For some local duffers, a trip to the Hopewell Valley Golf Club to compete in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions is old hat, a regular tradition.
For someone like Delbarton’s Will Voetsch, it’s a chance to improve on his stellar performance of a year ago, when he finished fifth overall with a round of 74. It’s Voetsch’s last chance at the TOC, considering he’s a senior headed for Rice University in the fall.
And for someone like Morristown’s Evan Quinn, it’s an opportunity to avenge what turned out to be the worst day of his high school golf career. Last year, coming off a blistering 66 to capture the gold medal at the North 1 & 2 Group III sectional, Quinn shot a totally uncharacteristic 84, a performance that has haunted the talented junior every day since.
But there are others like Mendham’s Ryle Heraghty, Roxbury’s Brian Quilty, Morristown’s Luke Haralampoudis, Pequannock’s Brett Lubba, Morristown-Beard’s John Shay and Newark Academy’s Sam Goldenring, a Florham Park resident, who all earned the right to play the round with the big boys Monday, with the shotgun tee time slated for 11 a.m.
While unfortunately there are no local teams participating in unison, like there were last year, when Pequannock won the Group I title, Morristown took home Group III and Delbarton just narrowly lost out on the overall crown by a single stroke, there is strong local representation from the eight local players who will hit the links with the best in the state Monday morning.
Of the locals, rivals Voetsch and Quinn have the best chances to shine.
Voetsch was downright brilliant last week, capturing the medal at the Non-Public A North sectionals at Forest Hill Golf Club in Bloomfield with a round of 72, three strokes better than the rest of the entire field.
Voetsch knows that this is his final try for statewide glory.
“I’ve been close before there and I’ve been under par all three times there,” Voetsch said. “So I’m interested to see where I stand with everyone else. I feel solid. I just have to keep the momentum going. I just needed to fine tune some things over the weekend to get ready for Monday.”
Voetsch and Quinn have locked horns several times in the past, so Monday will be nothing different.
Quinn shot a 73 last Monday to capture the medal at the North 1 & 2 Group III sectional at Darlington Golf Course in Mahwah. He vows that he won’t have another meltdown like the one he suffered last year at the TOC.
“I have some unfinished business at Hopewell Valley,” said Quinn, the reigning two-time All Daily Record Golfer of the Year. “I just wanted to get back there to play again. I think my game is coming into shape, especially my short game, which needed practice. Overall, I’m pretty happy with my game.”
It should lead to some interesting golf Monday at Hopewell Valley. If they’re on their games, both Voetsch and Quinn should finish among the top 10 in the state and don’t be surprised if one or the other is wearing the crown as New Jersey’s top high school golfer come sundown Monday evening.
The two will get one final chance of going head-to-head on the high school level next Tuesday at the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference championships at Flanders Valley.
Voetsch and Quinn weren’t the only golfers to win a state sectional gold medal last week. Shay, the Mo-Beard standout and Chatham resident, shot a 77 to get into a three-man playoff for the top spot in Non-Public B North, then won the playoff on the second hole to get the gold.
Shay is headed to the University of Mississippi in the fall and doesn’t plan on playing golf, but another solid round today might open some eyes.
Heraghty, the Mendham sophomore, opened a ton of eyes last week when he fired a 74, just one stroke shy of Quinn, at the state sectionals to earn a berth in the TOC.
“I worked hard on my short game to get better,” Heraghty said. “I’m chipping much better. I’m happy with the way I’m playing. I was waiting for my game to all come together and it seems to have come together at the right time. Doing well in the sectionals inspired me to do well at the Tournament of Champions.”
Heraghty may still be making a name for himself, but earning a berth is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
The same goes for Quilty, who no one figured would move on to the TOC, except, of course, Quilty himself.
“I’ve had a lot of confidence lately,” said Quilty, who shot a 75 last week to finish in fourth overall, earning his spot. “I had been trying, almost too hard. But I’ve been playing well lately and I feel ready for the challenge.”
Haralampoudis shot a 76 to earn a tie for fifth place and join teammate Quinn as the lone two golfers from one Morris County school in the TOC.
“It would have been better if the entire team was going,” Haralampoudis said. “But it’s a good accomplishment for Evan and me to go. I just hope I don’t make the mistakes I made last week.”
Lubba and Goldenring both competed in the TOC last year, so they have some big tourney experience that might help them Monday.
All in all, it should be an interesting afternoon of golf, as Morris County’s top locals shoot for the grand prize.