CB East’s Stewart Rickenbach won the SOL individual title on Monday. To view photos of all the action, please visit the Photo Gallery. To view a list of district qualifiers as well as a breakdown by conference, please visit the GOLF home page on the web site.
By BEN REESE
FRANCONIA TOWNSHIP – Stewart Rickenbach had something in mind when he was preparing for Monday's Suburban One League golf championship at Indian Valley Country Club.
He wanted to win.
The Central Bucks East senior has had a sterling season, leading the Patriots to an undefeated year and the automatic team bid to the District One championships next week.
But this was something different. It was individual competition. It was for a title all his own.
“Playing in the lead group, I kind of knew where I stood,” Rickenbach said, “so I really wanted to get after it and try to win.
“(The competition in the lead group) definitely motivated me. Playing with Zach Herr; he's the No. 1 player in the state. That kind of motivated me to go out there and try to beat him.”
That motivation must have worked because Rickenbach shot a 3-under 69, the only player under par, to take the SOL individual crown and also the SOL Continental title. Herr, the Council Rock North senior, for his part, was tops in the National Conference and Wissahickon junior Jalen Griffin took the American accolades. Pennsbury won the wild card spot for the districts.
“I played pretty well out there,” Rickenbach said. “I was consistent.
“I hit a lot of greens, a lot of fairways. I made some putts.”
OK, sure, that's what you have to do to win.
But it was what Rickenbach did to get to the top that was really important. He rallied.
“I bogeyed the first hole,” he said. “I guess I was a little nervous playing in the lead group. But after that I was pretty solid.”
Four birdies and one bogey is more than solid. It is championship work.
“I got down a few times and my short game saved me,” said Rickenbach. “Other than that I was pretty consistent. I hit the ball really solid.”
The 69 he shot over the par-72 6,493-yard course isn't the best effort of his young career.
“I shot a 67 at my home course (Commonwealth National) once which is 4 under,” he explained. “In competition, I've shot 2 under, 3 under a couple of times.”
Herr, on the other hand, couldn't find the consistency which led him to the 2011 SOL title. Last year, he shot an even-par 72 but Monday he finished at 2-over 74.
“It was a little rough out there,” he said. “It was the little mental faults that got me.”
He went into the turn at 2-under 34. But he gave those two strokes and two more back on the back nine.
“I didn't make any birdies (on the back nine) which was a problem,” Herr said. “I didn't make any putts.
“I really didn't make any putts all day. My only birdies were on the par 5s because I was on them in two.”
In fact, he gave back all four shots on three holes.
“I bogeyed 13, 14 and then on 15 I tried to get one back and I wound up doing something stupid (he tried to hit tough some trees and ended up in the water) and making double (bogey),” he explained. “That was pretty stupid looking back on it.”
Griffin was also consistent, shooting a 1-over 73. He was also in the lead group along with Upper Dublin's Andrew Carber.
“It was pretty good,” Griffin said. “It was just kind of an ennh kind of round.
“It started out pretty good. I was even for about seven holes. That was solid for a while.
“Then on nine it started to fall downhill. I made back-to-back bogeys (on 9 and 10), just missed easy putts. I got it back on 11, almost made a birdie, and on 12 I made a good putt so I was back to 1 over. Then I made birdie on 14.
“After that, I just played solid throughout the rest of the day. I was hitting my irons great today; it was just that I was just missing easy putts.”
All three acknowledged that, while winning their individual conference titles was good, they were aiming for something higher, like districts and states.
Herr especially has some added motivation. His sister, Erica, won the girls state championship last year.
“I want to win districts and I want to win states,” Herr said. “They are the only two things I'm worried about.
“Erica has gotten a lot of respect the last year so I have to show her what's up.”
Goldsborough might have had the largest smile of all the competitors and coaches at the championship. His Falcons qualified as the wild card team for districts.
“(I feel) vindicated,” Goldsborough said with a laugh, referring to his two matches last week against Council Rock North.
North won the first one by nine strokes and Pennsbury took the second by four shots meaning that the teams were named co-champions of the National Conference. However, by the five-stroke difference, North got the automatic spot in the district team competition and Pennsbury had to qualify as a wild card.
The Falcons put together a 311 combined score to grab the position. Jackie Rogowicz shot a 73, Vinay Ramesh a 77, Ryan Foll a 79 and Dylan del Vecchio an 82 to notch the victory.
“You had two really good teams in the National Conference and you can see that by the scores,” Goldsborough said. “It's a testament to the players on the team. I'm really happy for them.”
The girls will hold their championship on Wednesday at Five Ponds Golf Club in Warminster. Last year, Rogowicz shot an even-par 71 to win the SOL title.
Then comes the District One Championships, which will again be held at Turtle Creek Golf Course in Limerick for the boys and Gilbertsville Golf Club for the girls. Both tournaments will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 9, and Wednesday, Oct. 10.