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BERNARDSTON, Massachusetts – In a morning that began with heavy fog in the Pioneer Valley and ended with sunshine and blue skies the 101st Massachusetts Junior Amateur Champion was crowned, as James Imai defeated Trevor Lopez, 1up. This is the third victory for Imai in the Mass Junior, which is the first time in Mass Golf history that that has happened.
(4) TREVOR LOPEZ DEF. (1) JOHN BRODERICK, 4&3
After a birdie on two for John Broderick broke the ice and gave him a 1up advantage, Trevor Lopez responded to take control of the event. Lopez won holes three through 7 to take a 4up advantage, but wins on 8 and 9 for Broderick pulled him back within two. Lopez gained back control on the back nine, winning holes 10, 11 and 14 to end the match 4&3.
(2) JAMES IMAI DEF. (6) CONNER WILLETT, 3&2
The reigning Mass Junior Champion finds himself in a familiar again, as he punched his ticket to the finals. Along with winning last year at Belmont Country Club, Imai won in 2016 at Kernwood Country Club. Imai was able to defeat Conner Willett of Charles River Country Club by giving himself a big cushion early. Imai broke the match open with wins on holes three through six to take an early 4up advantage. Willett would crawl back into this one with three straight wins himself to close out the front nine only one down of Imai. The competitors would then trade wins between holes 11-16, with Imai closing out Willett on the 16th with a birdie.
In the climax of the four days spent at Crumpin-Fox Club, James Imai, a rising freshman at Northwestern University who plays out of George Wright GC, and Trevor Lopez who plays out of Winchester CC squared off the in the 2019 Massachusetts Junior Championship. This was the only match in the match play section of the Championship Proper Imai went to holes 17 and 18, but he played them solid with two pars to close out Trevor Lopez. The match started relatively quiet on the front nine, with Imai winning hole three with a birdie, and Lopez winning the par-5 fifth with a four to bring it back to even. Imai took control of the match with a stretch of three wins in four holes, taking wins on holes 10, 12 and 13 to pull three ahead. Lopez would respond with wins on 14 and 16 to pull within one, but both competitors were stalemated the next two holes with pars, leading Imai to his third Mass Junior win, the first time in history. This was also Imai’s last ever Junior golf event, as he is headed off to college in a few weeks to Northwestern University.
“Mass Golf, this was my first experience in major championships,” said Imai. “I was kind of in awe of how nice this tournament was and how special this tournament was. It really made me realize that I really wanted to do this. To be apart of history like this I can’t describe. There’s a lot going through my mind right now but honestly it just feels good.”
Throughout the week and especially in match play, it was apparent the camaraderie that the players had with one another. Whether it was playing football or corn hole after rounds at Crumpin-Fox, or joking around and staying loose on the range and practice greens.
“We all want all of us to play better,” said Imai. “That’s what you saw with Trevor today. He played so well today, really all week. He was my toughest test all week. Most of us were on Team Mass last week on the New England Junior. We’ve been good friends. All these guys are great. We want to beat each other, but we also want to see each other be the best that we can be.”
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