The 17th Northern Junior Championship presented by The Golf Performance Center began today at Great River Golf Club in Milford, Connecticut. This year marks the first year that the Northern Junior has been hosted at Great River Golf Club, a beautiful venue with stunning views of the Housatonic River and surrounding hillside. With warm, sunny skies and breezy afternoon conditions, any round under par was surely an impressive feat. Local superstar Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut will carry the overnight lead into Wednesday’s final round, while Addy Douglas of Newport, Rhode Island is the leader in the clubhouse for the Girls Championship.
In traditional fashion, this year’s Northern Junior Championship kicked off on Monday with player practice rounds and the annual Players Dinner hosted in the magnificent Great River Golf Club clubhouse. The competitors were also treated to a special experience during the practice round thanks to AJ Broderick, the New England Regional Sales Representative for Trackman Golf. Each player got the chance to hit a drive using the incredible Trackman technology, and the results were used to determine this year’s champions of the Long Drive Contest. Elizabeth Garfield won the Girls competition with an impressive 260.7 yards, while Matthew Dickson captured the Boys title with a whopping 321.2 yards.
Another focal point on Monday was the presentation of the Ryan Lee Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded each year to one competitor in memory of two-time Northern Junior champion Ryan Lee. Ryan’s passion and love for the game of golf left a lasting impression on everyone he met, and it is a true honor for the Northern Junior Championship to help carry on his legacy. This year’s recipient, Kyle Camello of Coventry, Connecticut will be attending Endicott College this fall where he will also compete on the golf team.
As for Tuesday’s opening round of the Northern Junior, the Boys Championship is poised for an exciting final round on Wednesday. Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut fired a sublime four under par round of 68, which included six birdies and two bogeys. James surely has a slight edge on the rest of the field this week, considering Great River Golf Club is his home course. He’s also no stranger to the big stage of competition, fresh off making match play at the prestigious U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol in New Jersey.
“I definitely know the spots to hit it and where to miss it out here,” said James after his round. “I haven’t played the course a ton lately because I’ve been so busy traveling to tournaments, but I definitely know the course well and love playing here.”
Just one stroke behind James is another Connecticut star Christopher Fosdick, who recently finished 17th at the Junior PGA Championship in Kentucky. Fosdick played an impressive round on Tuesday, making five birdies and one double bogey to shoot three under par for the day. His round of 69 leaves him just one shot behind James and one shot ahead of Shane DeVincenzo of Port Jefferson, New York, who opened with a round of 70.
Rounding out the top five of the Boys Championship are Luca Ferrara of Toronto, Ontario who posted an opening round 71, and four players who shot rounds of even par 72 and sit tied for fifth: Jude Cummings, Tyler Hahn, Zachary Maloy, and Justin Mathew. A total of fourteen players are within five shots of the leader Benjamin James, setting up for a thrilling final round on Wednesday.
In the Girls Championship, Addy Douglas of Newport, Rhode Island fired an opening round of even par 72 and sits as the leader in the clubhouse. Unfortunately, five groups in the Girls Championship will need to return Wednesday morning to finish their first round, as late afternoon thunderstorms halted play not once, but twice. Douglas endured the first weather delay and was able to finish her round just as the second storm approached as 7:20 PM.
“It was a really solid round,” said a smiling Douglas after signing her scorecard. “I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t make my birdie putt on 18, but honestly I’m just happy that I was able to finish my round off.”
Still on the golf course, Sarah Houle of Sandy Hook, Connecticut is also at even par and tied for the lead. Gio Kim of Upper Saddle Ridge, New Jersey posted an opening round of one over par 73 and sits one shot back at the moment. Another stroke back at two over, Kyra Cox, Bailey Davis, and Katie Li are all tied for fourth place.
The remaining Girls Championship groups will resume play at 8:00 AM on Wednesday morning, while the Boys Championship tee times will start at 7:00 AM, as originally scheduled.
Great River Golf Club opened in 2001 and features an 18 hole Tommy Fazio designed golf course, Monty’s River Grille, and an unparalleled setting along the banks of the Housatonic River. The facility is owned by Sacred Heart University and also serves as the home for the University’s Division I golf team. This year’s Northern Championship features a total of 114 players from 19 different states, provinces, and countries vying to become the next Northern Junior Champion.
The final round of the 2018 Northern Junior will begin Wednesday, August 8th at 7:00 AM, with the leading groups teeing off between 12:00 PM and 1:30 PM. Admission and parking at Great River Golf Club are free and spectators are encouraged to attend.