As the wind swirled through the tree-lined fairways at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood on Tuesday, the Shore Conference Tournament venue became a test that challenged every aspect of a player’s game.
And no one dealt with the conditions more adeptly than Rumson-Fair Haven senior Perry Litwin, who fired an even-par 72 to take individual honors. Southern’s Jackson Fiel, who won his third straight Ocean County title last week, and Rumson freshman Travis Weiner finished tied for second at 74.
“This is really nice to win this,” Litwin said, “”because I didn’t start playing until my sophomore year. I played baseball as a freshman, But I was playing well coming in and I putted well. It’s just the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
In the team standings, it was Christian Brothers Academy claiming the top spot for the ninth time in ten years, as senior Sean Farren led the way with a 75, tying for fourth with defending champion Dawson Jones of Howell. The Colts finished two shots ahead of victory over Rumson. Rounding out the scoring for the Colts were Jack Doherty (77), Monmouth County champ Chris Gotterup (78) and Manny Lazzaro (81).
“It’s a good win and it sure doesn’t hurt us to have a tough tournament like this going into the states,” CBA coach Tim Sewnig said. “I think we’re still figuring out who we are as a team, and we’re still looking at some things in terms of our depth, but our top three have been great, for sure.”
The first hint that this might be a special season for Litwin came when he captured the season-opening Wall Invitational, leading the Bulldogs to the team title at Jumping Brook.
At Eagle Ridge, Litwin was able to work his way through the narrow fairways, while using his short game to clean up any mistakes.
“I played the course a couple of times before, but didn’t really know it too well,” he said. “”I was pretty conservative off the tee. Just keep it straight and the couple times I hit it into the trees I was able to get up-and-down and save par.”
Beginning his round on the fourth hole, Litwin he made a nice par-saving putt on No. 5 before carding a bogey on the sixth hole. The string of seven straight pars that would follow included a 10-foot putt to save par on No. 7 and a recovery shot from the trees on the tenth hole where he hooked his second shot up to the front fringe and two-putted for par.
“Making a 10-foot putt for par is as good as a 20-foot putt for birdie,” Litwin said, `because you don’t expect to birdie every hole, but making a par you’re not giving a shot back to the field.”
When he arrived Eagles Ridge’s back-to-back par-5s, beginning on No. 14, Litwin hit the green in two shots and two putted for birdie to get back to even par. He hit the green in two on No. 15, but this time he three-putted for par.
And then he made one final save, hooking his second shot out from the trees on the 17th hole, eventually sinking a 20-foot putt for par.
“I think as a team we’re really confident heading into the states,” Litwin added. “We did not get our best scores from (players) two thru four, but our No. 5 played really well. I think we’re going to be right in it and hopefully contend at the Tournament of Champions.”
It was another strong showing for Fiel,who finished fifth her a year ago. This time, however, Southern, winners of the last two Ocean County titles, produced a strong fourth-place showing, finishing at 338, four shots behind Manasquan.
“”To me it’s a little disappointing,” Fiel said. “”Fourth as a team is a little disappointing, but we did break that Monmouth County barrier a little bit. Personally, I’m disappointed, especially with my front nine. I doidon’t come out firing on all cylinders and was 5-over after nine holes. But then I eagles 14 and birdied 15, making a 30 foot putt and then a 20- foot putt. Then I made another 20-footer for birdie on No. 17.”
Staff writer Stephen Edelson is an Asbury Park Press columnist: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: SteveEdelsonAPP
Team: 1. CBA 311; 2. Rumson-Fair Haven 313; 3. Manasquan 334; 4. Southern 338; 5. St. Rose 340; 6. Wall 341; 7. Ocean 347; 8. Howell 348; 9. Jackson Mem. 358; 10. RBC 367; 11. TR North 370; 12. Jackson Liberty 385; 13. Central 388; 14. Brick 394;
Individual: 1. Perry Litwin (R-FH) 72; 2. tie, Jackson Fiel (Southern), Travis Weiner (R-FH) 74; 4. tie, Sean Farren (CBA), Dawson Jones (Howell 75; 6. Jack Doherty (CBA) 77; 7. Chris Gotterup (CBA) 78; 8. Kellen Jordan (St. Rose) 79; 10. tie, Mike Stefanelli (Howell), Mike Reilly (Manasquan) 80; 12. tie, Manny Lazzaro (CBA), John Lee (Ocean) 81; 14. tie, Jared Mullin (Jackson Memorial), Pat Gates (St. Rose), Pat Leitrkinder (RBC), Andrew Jeans (TR North), Reid Bedell (Rumson), Shawn Mayer (Brick) 82; 20. tie, Andrew Hatch (Wall), Bobb Weise (Freehold Twp.), Logan Sabins (Manasquan) 83; 23. tie, Matt Rizzo (Southern), Luke Dougherty (Wall) 84; 25. tie, Russell Herbert (Freehold), Robby Coene (Rumson) 85.