Juniors go low to qualify

story tease

Snyder redeems himself with 1-under 71 to win boys 17-U title at Tam O'Shanter

By Kevin Connelly


Hermitage, Pa.

Nolan Snyder prefers playing golf under par to doing it under the weather.

Last year’s third-place finisher in the boys 17-and-under division knew he was better than the 91 he shot in this year’s first Greatest Juniors qualifier at Pine Lakes Golf Club. He also knew he wasn’t playing at 100 percent because he was fighting the flu the day of the event.

“I probably shouldn’t have played, really,” the Western Reserve senior said. “I wasn’t at my best and really wasn’t happy with my performance.”

Snyder made up for his previous lackluster performance with a 1-under par round of 71 at Tam O’Shanter on Friday. It was the low round in his division and the low round of the day.

Qualifying for the championship had him feeling much better.

“You know I thought I had a pretty good round in me,” Snyder said. “I was playing a practice round [Thursday] night and after about the 14th or 15th hole, I stopped because I was playing so well.

“I wanted to save some good shots for today.”

Snyder joins Pine Lakes qualifier Billy Colbert, who shot 73 on Friday, and Mohawk Trails qualifier Bradley Miller.

The shot of the day came from Jacob Wilson, who gave Snyder a challenge thanks to a hole-in-one on the 275-yard par-4 first. The hole location was playing fairly accessible, since Cameron Gumble made a run at it, too. His ball missed the cup by less than a foot.

“Yeah, I heard about the hole-in-one from someone when I was out on the course and they said [Wilson] was having a pretty good round, too,” said Snyder, who was 2-under par after three holes. “That definitely made me take notice and tighten things up to make sure I played my best.”

Ken Keller, last year’s younger division winner, made his first appearance of the season. He’s coming off a victory in an Optimist International Junior Golf qualifying event, for which he’ll earn an all-expense paid trip to Florida’s Palm Beach Gardens PGA National Resort and Spa.

Now in the older division, Keller was four shots off the leader with a 75.

Less than two weeks after last year’s girls 17-and-under runner-up, Jacinta Pikunas, earned a spot in this year’s championship, the 2013 winner made sure she had a chance to defend her title.

Canfield’s Christina Cooper played a clean round of 3-over par 75 to qualify. It was her first event this year, but she joins Pikunas and Kaylee Neumeister, who shot 80 on Friday, as qualifiers.

“I was trying to relax today and I just played a solid round,” Cooper said. “This year’s been pretty fun for me. I have a lot better state of mind.

“My game’s gotten a lot better, even just from last year.”

There wasn’t going to be a second showdown between Brian Terlesky and Cole Christman in the boys 14-and-under division this week. At Mohawk Trails, Terlesky defeated Christman on the 18th green by sinking a birdie putt. Since he had already qualified with the win, and is a past Greatest Juniors champion, Terlesky took advantage of his situation to test his game against the older boys.

The 14-year-old played in the upper division and shot a 77 — a round he wasn’t too pleased with afterward — but the incoming Boardman freshman can certainly feel good about how he stacks up against his future high school competition.

Christman qualified with a round of 75 on Friday, but not my much. He narrowly out-played Bobby Jonda, who’s put together back-to-back rounds of 78 and 76 in his last two qualifiers.

Christman joins Terlesky and Connor Stevens as qualifiers.

In the girls 14-and-under division, Hannah Keffler had the low round of 87, but since she qualified at Pine Lakes, Hadley Spielvogel was awarded the qualifying spot. She shot 93.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.