(Thomas VanBelle eliminated medalist Ben James with an eagle on the 19th hole)
As can happen in match play, Tuesday at the 77th Junior Amateur Championship was a day when some household names left the household.
Ben James, the phenomenal 15-year-old from Great River Golf Club, medalist on Monday and a comfortable winner in his first match Tuesday morning, fell in 19 holes to Greenwich’s Thomas VanBelle, when VanBelle hit his second shot to the par-5 first to three feet and made eagle.
Alex Aurora, of the Ct PGA Junior Golf Association, who finished T5 in the state Division1 championship, fell to Matt Doyle of Madison Country Club, 3&2. Doyle then also eliminated Tyler Hahn of the Golf Club of Avon, who was runner-up in the first CIAC Open Championship.
Chris Fosdick, the CIAC Open Champ, lost in 19 holes to Matt Camel of the Round Hill Club.
And then Camel, who had last week tied an AJGA tournament 54-hole scoring record while making holes-in-one in consecutive rounds, lost himself to Connor Belcastro of the eClub of Connecticut and Greenwich’s Brunswick School, where he is a teammate of VanBelle.
It was indeed a day for Greenwich golf. Billy Nail, who captains the Division1 state-championship Greenwich High team with Jackson Fretty, also won, beating incoming Greenwich freshman Tyler Donnellan on the 18th hole. Nail was a semi-finalist in the 2017 Junior Amateur.
But nobody was celebrating like the Brunswick boys, who if truth be told, looked a bit surprised by their success.
“Honestly, when Ben stuck it on number one and eagled the first hole of our match, I was thinking maybe I didn’t have a chance,” said VanBelle. “But then when we were even after five holes, I thought, hey, I can play with this guy.”
He did. Though two down after eight, Van Belle birdied the ninth and tenth and made only one bogey coming home. He survived a wayward approach on the 18th with a miraculous, short-side up and down. James missed a 15-footer for birdie, and then Van Belle made his eagle to win.
His Brunswick teammate Belcastro kidded Camel that he’d been rooting for his morning opponent, Fosdick, because he didn’t want to face Matt. But Belcastro led from the start, birdieing twice before making eagle on the par 5 seventh to reach plus-four after nine, finally winning 3&1.
Some of the “favorites” remain in the Round of 8.
Sixteen-year-old Alexander Gu of Darien won 5&3 over Kyle Camello in the morning and then, despite not making a birdie in the afternoon, outlasted Raymond Gresalfi, who came from four down to lose on the final hole.
Justin Mathew, who has qualified for next week’s U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club, defeated Michael Hanratty in 19 holes. Hanratty has qualified for the Connecticut Open.
Jack Maguire of Ridgefield and the CSGA Club for Schools beat Jackson Roman of Shuttle Meadow Country Club in 19 holes. Roman had gone 21 holes in the morning to defeat Tyler Blose of Brooklawn Country Club.
Bryan McLennan of Suffield Country Club joins the eight. He beat Mark Gertsen of New Canaan in the morning and William Karkos of the eClub of Connecticut in the afternoon.
One who did not survive was 15-year-old Jack Bosworth, of Hop Meadow, who Monday shot 69, was one of only five players under par and defeated his usually dominant older brother James by 10. Alas, young Jack lost to Karkos in the morning, 3&2.
But for father James Bosworth, who was on hand to watch his sons compete this week, all was well. “The main thing is to have fun. I’m really proud of them both.”
Wednesday Morning Matches:
8:00 AM - Thomas VanBelle vs Connor Belcastro
8:09 AM - Alexander Gu vs Jack Maguire
8:18 AM - Billy Nail vs. Justin Mathew
8:27 AM - Bryan McLennan vs. Matt Doyle