- Golfer Benefits
SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts – History was made in Springfield on Monday as U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Qualifying was hosted at Veterans Memorial Golf Course. It marks the first time one of the city’s two municipal golf courses has hosted a USGA Qualifier.
The event was highlighted by a visit from Mayor Domenic Sarno, who delivered a proclamation, officially making Monday USGA Junior Amateur and Girls’ Junior Amateur Qualifying Day in Springfield.
In the morning, four players shot 3-under or better to earn a spot into the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. And in the afternoon three punched their ticket to the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship.
The first group of the day grabbed two of the four qualifying spots. Tyler Bruneau (Nashawtuc CC) and Sascha Robinson (Plymouth CC) played together on Monday and will now have the chance to tee it up together down in South Carolina, at the Championship Proper.
Robinson birdied holes 14, 15 and 16 to get to 3-under-par and coasted in with a couple of cozy pars to earn one of the four spots.
“There was a lot of gettable holes out there, but you had to keep it in the fairway, and the greens were in really good condition.”
For Bruneau, a University of Rhode Island commit who is originally from Massachusetts, it wasn’t the five birdies that drew the biggest celebration, but rather a timely par save on the final hole. After missing the green on the par-3 finisher, he hit a pitch shot to 20 feet. While clearly unhappy with the result of his second, Bruneau’s emotions flipped thanks to the result of his third, capped off by a fist pump and a loud “Give me that!”
Interestingly the other two players to grab a golden ticket came from the final tee time of the day.
Jia Hao Poon (Malaysia) made the 24-hour flight across the world to compete in Springfield, Massachusetts. His answer to the question of what made him choose this location was interesting.
“I chose this location because Massachusetts has such a chill vibe. I heard a lot about the Muni’s (Municipal Golf Courses) in the area and really wanted to check them out.”
He was spotted over the past few days playing both Veterans and Franconia in preparation for today’s qualifier. Safe to say, that plan worked out.
Trevor Drew (Long Meadow CC) went into his final two holes knowing he needed a pair of birdies to qualify. After driving the 300-yard par-4 8th, the first birdie was easily captured. But on his last hole, the par-5 9th, his second shot splashed into the bunker, leaving a fried egg. A classy up-and-down got Drew to 3-under, and a tee time next month in South Carolina.
All four players will be making their USGA Championship debut next month at the Daniel Island Club in Charleston, South Carolina.
In the afternoon, the score of 72 was the lucky number. All three players to qualify for the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship shot level par to earn a trip to Colorado.
Early in the round, players were pulled off the course for a weather delay, but were able to quickly get back out to continue play.
One of those that took advantage of the break was Isabel Brozena (Indian Ridge CC). After a slow start, she chipped away with some birdies in the middle of her round.
“Shout out to my group of Piper Jordan (Boston GC) and Delaney Nadeau. They made the round so fun and were screaming and cheering me on the whole way. I think they were more excited for me to advance than I was.”
With the mid-round surge pulling Brozena within striking distance, there was still ground to make up. On the par-3 7th (her 16th hole of the day), Brozena stepped up and delivered. She hit a tee shot to the upper shelf, which is where the hole location was set, but was still a healthy 20-feet away. Her next shot was even better, as the lengthy birdie putt fell to the bottom of the cup, pulling her one back of the lead.
Brozena tacked on one more birdie on 8 (her 17th), which was enough to secure a spot in the Championship Proper, and allowed for a stress-free walk up 18.
Joining Brozena at the top of the leaderboard was a few players from out-of-state. With a round of 72, Emily Luo (California) made it two straight years of successfully qualifying for the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur out of Massachusetts. Last year she made it through the Oak Hill CC Qualifying event.
And rounding out the group of co-medalists (and qualifiers) was Sawyer Brockstedt. Having never played in Massachusetts before, she’s quickly coming to enjoy the area. Like many of the players in the field, Brockstedt signed up for multiple USGA Qualifiers being held in Massachusetts this week. On Tuesday, she’ll also compete in U.S. Women’s Amateur Qualifying at Renaissance in Haverhill.
The past few days have been spent bouncing back-and-forth between the two clubs to get her practice rounds in. After successfully qualifying on Monday, one would think she’s quite alright with all the driving.
The three will now compete in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship in Colorado next month.
U.S. JUNIOR AM QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Jia Hao Poon (Malasyia); (-5) 67
Tyler Bruneau (West Palm Beach, FL); (-4) 68
Sascha Robinson (Plymouth, MA); (-3) 69
Trevor Drew (Tyngsborough, MA); (-3) 69
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Eidan Jamzidi (Malasyia); (-2) 70*
John Scully (Winchester, MA); (-2) 70*
*Advanced in playoff
U.S. GIRLS’ JUNIOR AM QUALIFIERS (Names; Cities)
Isabel Brozena (North Reading, MA); (E) 72
Sawyer Brockstedt (Rehoboth Beach, DE; (E) 72
Emily Luo (Danville, CA); (E) 72
ALTERNATES (In Order)
Jolene Truong (Canada); (+2) 74
Zorah Williams (Mystic, CT); (+3) 75
In 2020, the city of Springfield invested $1 Million into its two municipal golf courses, Veterans Memorial GC and Franconia GC. Headlined by a major bunker renovation, the courses now boast championship worthy tests. This year’s U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Qualifying held at Veterans Memorial GC sold out faster than any of the other qualifiers in the country.
The golf course at Veterans was designed by Geoffrey Cornish, a notable golf course architect, author, and a fellow of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. The course opened for play in 1964.
As a municipally operated course, Veterans is known throughout Western Mass as one of the best values in golf. With greens fees costing just $27 and replay rates running just $6, one would be hard pressed to find a less expensive way to play a proper golf course in Massachusetts.
⛳️ Golf in the city of Springfield ⛳️
— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) June 26, 2023
In 1948, the USGA inaugurated the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, for players under the age of 18, to determine the best junior golfer in the United States. In 2016, the USGA made a significant change to the age limit of the U.S. Junior Amateur to allow anyone under the age of 19 to compete starting with the 2017 championship.
A number of prominent players have won the U.S. Junior Amateur, including 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, who captured three consecutive titles from 1991-93. Jordan Spieth, the 2015 U.S. Open champion, is the only other individual to win multiple Junior Amateur titles. Michael Thorbjornsen of Wellesley, MA won the 2018 championship.
The 2023 championship will be contested at Daniel Island Club in Charleston, S.C. The U.S. Junior champion receives an exemption into the following year’s U.S. Open Championship.
The U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship was established in 1949, one year after the Junior Amateur Championship. Philadelphia (Pa.) Country Club, one of the oldest golf courses in the nation, was the host club for the USGA’s newest championship, and the competition drew a starting field of 28 girls from 17 states, although 10 of the players were from the Philadelphia area.
Marlene Bauer, 15, of Los Angeles, claimed the inaugural title and she became one of a long list of Girls’ Junior champions who would have success on the professional level, including Hall of Famers Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Amy Alcott and Nancy Lopez. Alcott, Carner, Inbee Park, Ariya Jutanugarn, Hollis Stacy and Wright would go on to win the U.S. Women’s Open.
In 2016, the USGA made a signifcant change to the age criteria. Starting with the 2017 championship, any female under the age of 19 will be eligible to compete in the U.S. Girls’ Junior. Prior to that, competitors could not have turned 18 by the conclusion of the championship.
The USGA also announced in 2017 that the U.S. Girls’ Junior champion would receive an exemption into the following year’s U.S. Women’s Open Championship.
The 2023 championship will be contested at Eisenhower Golf Course at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.