The excitement and buildup of the fifth annual Greatest Golfer of the Valley Junior series will play out on the golf course today in the final qualifying event before the championship.
In its first year with individual player points standings, the final golfers to make the cut for this year’s championship won’t be determined until today’s rounds at Trumbull Country Club are complete.
And there are quite a few close races.
In addition to the six automatic qualifiers from each of the four age divisions, six more players from each division will earn entrance to the juniors championship July 27 at Avalon Lakes through at-large spots. Those are rewarded to golfers who are consistently finishing near the top of each event.
Take boys 14-and-under division points leader Bobby Jonda. He’s placed inside the top four in each of the five qualifying events and was one shot off the leader in two of them. With his steady overall performance through the summer, he’s earned a series-high 22 points and is comfortably leading his age division.
Should he win today and automatically qualify, that would open up an at-large spot to the remainder of the 14-and-under field.
In the boys 17-and-under division, there’s a large group of golfers sitting near the cut line. Division points leader Zach Jacobson (17 points) and Joey Shushok (12) are the only players to have locked up spots in the finals, should they fail to win today.
Twenty-three players are within five points of each other vying for no less than three remaining at-large spots. Leading that bunch is Cardinal Mooney senior Nicholas Hough (7). He’s played well in his last two events, setting himself up to qualify with a good performance today.
“I struggled the first weekend at Pine Lakes, but I’ve started to play better at the past couple and I hope to get my score down even more [today],” Hough said.
“I feel OK,” he said about his positioning, “but I know some good players are right behind me.”
He’ll be playing his first round at Trumbull Country Club, but that doesn’t worry him. Hough had never played Salem Golf Club before the June 23 qualifier. He shot a round of 83, which was only three shots off the lead.
“If I can play in the low 80s I’ll be pretty happy,” he said. “I’m hoping to get in the 70s, but I’ll take low 80s.”
There are just six at-large spots available for each division and should there be a tie in the points standings, a tiebreaker of average score would be used to determine who advances.
The girls 14-and-under division is set with all six competitors earning entrance to the championship.
However the girls 17-and-under division have no less than two at-large spots still available. Alexa Tringhese, Kaci Carpenter, Cait Butler and Emily Koehler have enough points to finish in the top six, should they not win today.