Pennsbury sophomore Jade Gu captured the Regional title, one of five SOL golfers to advance to the state tournament.
By Ben Reese
FLEETWOOD -- Jade Gu might be one of the most controlled golfers on the planet.
The Pennsbury sophomore, who exhibited a big smile, nevertheless was very quiet while shooting a 1-under 71 to win the girls portion of the PIAA Eastern Regional golf tournament at Golden Oaks Golf Club on Monday.
Her biggest reaction came when informed that she had won.
"Yea," she said, still smiling. "That's cool. I'm excited."
OK, but not the reaction that was expected after being the lone girl to shoot under par over the par-72 course.
"I am jumping up and down inside," she explained.
How will she react if she wins the state tournament? Will she physically jump up and down?
"Probably," she said, "but we don't know anything. I just want to make sure that I just don't blow up.
"I want to play my best and I'll be happy. It's not that big a deal if I win or not."
Wow, that's control.
Gu was one of five Suburban One League golfers who qualified for the state tournament on Monday, Oct. 22, and Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Heritage Hills Golf Resort and Spa in York.
Joining her will be Council Rock South's Matt Fleming, Central Bucks East's Patrick Sheehan, Central Bucks West's Luca Jezzeny and Stephen Butler of Souderton.
Gu started her round on 18, opening with a par on the par-5 hole. She continued on the par roll with three more on holes 1 through 3.
She birdied the par-3 fourth but gave that stroke back with a bogey on the sixth hole. However, she finished off the front nine with a birdie on No. 9.
All that remained for her was to play her final eight holes in even par. She did that, mixing a birdie on No. 12 with a bogey on 16.
"I was able to hit the greens a lot," Gu said. "I only missed three greens.
"My driver was pretty mediocre today but my approach shots stayed on the green which was helpful. When I got the ball close, my speed control was really good especially from long distance."
Obviously, she wasn't the only SOL golfer who had a good day. Fleming and Sheehan shared second place with 71s, finishing behind Central York's Carson Bracha, who finished with a 3-under 69.
For Sheehan, it was a bit of retribution. He just missed the cut for states at last year's regionals.
"Yeah, finally," he said when asked if it felt good. "It's just taken long enough to get to states.
"It's a qualifier and it's not exactly who wins but I wanted to win. When Carson made that putt at the end, it made my putt not matter. (Bracha made a birdie putt on the 18th green to put two strokes between himself and Sheehan. Sheehan had an eagle putt on 18, which he failed to make and then he missed a 4-foot putt for birdie which would have given him second place alone.) I think if he had missed his putt, I would have made my 4-footer. I played well."
Jezzeny was happy with his round. He had two birdies, on 11 and 18, and three bogeys.
"I played pretty solid today," he said. "It wasn't my best but I got the job done. I just needed to stay steady out there.
"I feel good. It's definitely nice to finally get to states."
Butler had his troubles early in his round.
"My drives weren't going straight and I couldn't get the speed of the greens," he said. "I was putting it either way too hard or way too soft.
"One thing I had to get used to was the speed of the greens. Once I got used to that, my round was a lot smoother. Once I got through the first couple holes, I started hitting my driver better and I started putting better and that made my score drop."
Fleming had his problems at the beginning of his round also.
"I started off the round - I think the first five holes, with three 3-putts,” he said. “I was 3-over through the first five.
"I made the turn and played the back nine 3-under. It gave me a lot of confidence.
"My putting was not good in the beginning. I made one key putt on 12 and that set my round with my putting so I started to putt really well."
One thing everyone agreed on was the conditions. The day started out cold, damp and windy.
"The wind kicked up on the back nine so you had to pay attention a little bit," said Jezzeny. "Overall it wasn't too bad."
Sheehan actually felt the wind was a benefit.
"The wind was downwind on the holes it needed to be - both the par-5s on the front and that helped a whole lot,” he said. “The only problem today was the wind and it wasn't even that bad."
Gu had no problems with the conditions.
"It seemed that since the fairways were so wet, it was a lot easier to chunk (hit the ball fat)," she said. "It was lift, clean and place so it wasn't too bad.
"It didn't start raining until the last couple of holes. The weather wasn't really affecting me."
One thing they all agreed on was that it was great to be going to states.
"(I feel) really good," said Fleming. "It feels really good to go to states. I worked really hard."
"I'm excited," said Butler. "I didn't expect to make it there but I'm going. I'm happy."
The lone SOL golfer who missed the cut was Sarah Scarpill of CB East. The junior shot an 83 and finished in 14th place. However, only 13 girls advanced to states.
SOL QUALIFIERS FOR STATES
Matt Fleming, CR South 71
Patrick Sheehan, CB East 71
Luca Jezzeny, CB West 73
Stephen Butler, Souderton 75
Jade Gu, Pennsbury 71*