NEW HARTFORD – Some of the best young golfers from all over the world came to Yahnundasis Golf Club Friday to test their skills in hopes of qualifying for the USGA Junior Amateur Championships.
Most came from throughout the northeast, many from Canada, and a few from as far away as Mexico, England, China and New Zealand in hopes of qualifying for the championships. Also in the mix were five local boys and one local girl as 13-year-old sensation Bailey Shoemaker from West Edmeston shot 2-over 73 to take medalist honors, beating out top players in the 18-under event.
The Yahnundasis posed a stiff test to some of the world’s best juniors and just the very best advanced. The top three boys and girls moved onto the Junior Amateur Championships on July 16-21. The boys championship will be played at famed Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, while the girls head to all the way to California’s Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Joining Shoemaker at Poppy Hills will be fellow New Yorkers, Kaitlyn Lee (Scarsdale) and Lindsay May (Auburn). Mikah McDonnell and Malini Rudah are first and second alternates, respectively.
Shoemaker has played in huge tournaments around the world, finishing third at the IMG World Championships last summer in San Diego, Calif. She also won the state junior-am last year at Seven Oaks Golf Course.
“It’s one of the biggest tournaments for girls golf, so it’s amazing to make it,” Shoemaker said. “It’s pretty high up (on her list of accomplishments). I’m really looking forward to it.”
Qualifying for the boys were Mexico’s Alejandro Madariaga and Skaneateles’ Jeremy Sisson, who each posted 1-under rounds of 70. The final spot went to another Syracuse-area star as Ian Rivers defeated Jason Lohwater in a playoff. The two tied with even-par rounds and had to go extra holes to decide the third qualifier. Lohwater becomes the first alternate, while Harrison Ornstein (72) is the second alternate.
For Sisson, who just graduated from Skaneateles, it’s hard to imagine a better result.
“It’s awesome,” said Sisson, who visited Baltusrol to watch the 2016 PGA Championship.
Now he gets to play the historic course.
“I’m so happy because it’s the last year I could play in this. It’s the best way I could cap my junior career off. It’s very exciting and it’s going to be a great experience.”
None of the local boys in the field qualified.
Playing on his home course, New Hartford’s Jack Angelucci shot a 3-over 74 to lead the way among the local contingent. Sean Scarafile (80) and Mike Mandel (81) had up-and-down rounds and finished in the middle of the pack.
“It was a solid round,” said Angelucci, who’s headed to play at Mercyhurst University this fall. “I felt good from the beginning and having Scott Mundorff caddie for me is big. It’s good to have him out there. It’s the third year having him and he really helps. He’s good at reading greens and is a big asset to have. Being able to play and putt here every day is an advantage.”
Angelucci had a wild opening nine, carding four bogeys and three birdies to make the turn at 1-over par. He was extremely steady on the back nine, aside from a huge triple-bogey 7 on the par-4 12th that virtually knocked him out of contention. The New Hartford grad did manage to birdie the par-4 16th to pull back to 3-over, but the damage on 12 was too much to overcome.
“I hit a pretty good drive and was in the rough a few yards off the fairway,” Angelucci said recalling his play on the 12th. “I was 172 yards from the pin and the ball was sitting up, so we chose a 6-iron, which is my club from 170. I hit it and it went about 210 yards and I had to take an unplayable. … What are you going to do. Looking back, 8-iron would’ve probably been the right club, but neither of us would ever think that at the time.”
A few weeks ago, Shoemaker, as just a seventh-grader, finished second at the New York State Public High School Championship at Bethpage’s Yellow Course. In the second round of that event, she shot a 65 to set a personal, course and tournament records.
Shoemaker opened Friday’s qualifier with a bogey-5, but responded with birdies on Nos. 6 and 9 to post a 1-under 35 on the front side. She stumbled early on her closing nine, posting four straight bogeys from Nos. 11-14 to fall 3-over, but bounced back with a birdie on the par-4 15th and closed with a 73.
The rising eighth-grader at Unadilla Valley High School didn’t hesitate when asked what carried Friday’s round.
“My putting,” Shoemaker said. “I swiped putters and went back to the one I used the last day at states when I shot 65.”