The 18th Northern Junior Championship presented by the Golf Performance Center concluded on Wednesday at historic New Haven Country Club in Hamden, Connecticut. Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut and Emma Shen of Tenafly, New Jersey each cruised to five shot victories in the Boys Championship and Girls Championship, respectively.
After picture-perfect weather during both Monday’s practice round and Tuesday’s first round, the forecast for Wednesday looked ominous and severe thunderstorms skirted past the course all day. With a split tee start and early morning times, all players successfully completed 36 holes and the champions were crowned without any interruption.
In the Boys Championship, Connecticut star Ben James became just the second player in Northern Junior history to defend his title. Ryan Lee accomplished the same feat in 2008 and 2009. Ben’s summer already includes victories at the Connecticut Junior Amateur and AJGA Killington Junior Golf Championship, and he can now add the title of Northern Junior champion to his resume for the second time.
“The start to the day was a little shaky, but I settled down after the first few holes,” said James following his victory. “It’s always a little sweeter to win when you’re defending.”
James backed up his opening round of three under par 67 with another three under par round, giving him a six under par total of 134 and a five shot victory. Tied for second place were Tommy Dallahan (Simsbury, Connecticut), Sebastian Moss (Pearland, Texas) and Thomas Stafford (Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada) all posting one under 139 for the championship. Rounding out the top five was Mac Lee of Andover, Massachusetts, who posted rounds of 72 and 68 for an even par total of 140.
In the Girls Championship, Emma Shen of New Jersey secured a five shot victory after rounds of 68 and 74 for a two over par total of 142. Shen carded five birdies in her opening round on Tuesday, and played steady golf throughout most of Wednesday despite windy and challenging conditions. Shen has already notched top ten finishes in multiple AJGA events, including a victory at the 2018 Golf Performance Center Junior All-Star, and she can now add the prestigious title of Northern Junior Champion to her growing resume.
“I was looking at the leaderboards all day, and I think that really helped me,” commented Shen after her victory. “I knew I was leading throughout the day but I didn’t know exactly what was happening in the groups ahead. I just tried to play my game one shot at a time, and I’m so thrilled to have won this great event.”
Finishing five shots behind Shen was Natasha Kiel of New Hope, Pennsylvania, who posted rounds of 70 and 77 for a total of 147. Just another shot back at eight over par and solo third was Alexsandra Lapple of Ridgefield, Connecticut, who posted a splendid 32 on Wednesday’s front nine. Tied for fourth place at nine over par were Sydney Kuo (Edison, New Jersey) and Katherine Lu (Plainsboro, New Jersey).
This year’s competition included several special events for all players and families, including the Players Dinner and presentation of the Ryan Lee Memorial Scholarship on Monday night. This year’s recipient was Michael Rosenbloom from Wellesley, Massachusetts, who will be attending Emory University in Georgia this fall as a member of the Emory Eagles golf team. Players also participated in the traditional Long Drive competition on Monday evening (won by Kevin Lynch and Katherine Lu) and a mini golf tournament with ice cream sundae bar on Tuesday night.
For the fourth year in a row, players of the Northern Junior enjoyed a special treat during the final round when they reached the 18th green. A member of the United States Marine Corps greeted the players and attended the flagstick on the final green, appropriately adorned with a United States of America flag. Many players and families took the opportunity to offer their thanks and appreciation for his service and his dedication to the United States of America. It was yet another beautiful tribute to Stan Trojanowski, for whom the Northern Junior was originally founded. Stan Trojanowski was a marine himself, serving in World War II. Sadly, Stanley Trojanowski passed away in 2001 due to mesothelioma, yet his spirit and love for the game of golf continue to live on through golf’s next generation.
This year marked the 18th playing of the Northern Junior Championship, an internationally recognized junior championship held each year in the state of Connecticut. The 2019 field featured players from 25 different states, provinces, and countries who had not reached their 19th birthday or entered college by August 7th. More information about this year’s event, as well as next year’s event, can be found at NorthernJunior.com.
The Tournament Committee wishes to extend a sincere thank you to the golf staff, maintenance crew, and members of New Haven Country Club for their support of this year’s event, as well as the Golf Performance Center for their continued support of the Northern Junior. Additionally, we offer our sincerest thanks to the countless volunteers and Connecticut State Golf Association officials who helped to make this year’s Northern Junior a memorable experience for all of the players and families. Congratulations once again to Ben James and Emma Shen, the 2019 Northern Junior Champions.
About The Golf Performance Center
The Golf Performance Center is the Northeast’s leading golf academy. Leveraging more than 20 years of experience, PGA and TPI Certified Founder Roger Knick and his coaching staff provide a unique methodology to training that focuses on the 5 Elements of Success: Desire, Coaching, Physical Performance & Nutrition, Mental Game, and Equipment. Combined with state-of-the-art training facilities and performance-assessment technologies, athletes enjoy customized programs designed to take their game to the next level and give them the competitive edge they seek.
About the Northern Junior Championship
The Northern Junior Championship is a nationally ranked junior golf tournament that is contested over two days in Connecticut each summer, and is open to amateur boys and girls under the age of 19 who have not entered their first year of college. The tournament attracts a field of competitors from across the country and across the world, and is conducted with the goal of providing the same first-class championship experience offered at the best amateur and professional events in the country. Now in its 18th year, the Northern Junior Championship is conducted each year in memory of Stan Trojanowski, husband of Florence Trojanowski and father of Cindy and Gary Trojanowski, who passed away in 2001 due to Mesothelioma.