NEWBERRY — Robert Bartolomucci of Hilton Head broke a nine-year streak by winning the qualifying medalist award and then winning six matches to be named champion of the 37th SC Junior Match Play Championship at Country Club of Newberry.
Bartolomucci, a rising high school junior, defeated Nick Willis of Cowpens, in the semifinal match on July 11. In the other semifinal match, Ryan Marter of Columbia beat Jake Smith of Duncan, setting up the final match against Bartolomucci.
In the final match, both players got off to a smooth start and Bartolomucci took a one up lead after winning the seventh hole with a par. Marter won Hole 10 and Hole 13 to take a one up lead, but Bartolomucci responded by winning the next three holes with birdies, taking a two stroke lead heading into Hole 17.
Marter did not go easily winning 17 and cutting the lead to one up heading into the last hole. After each player made par, Bartolomucci won the match one up.
“I played really well this week, especially on Tuesday in the qualifier,” said Bartolomucci. “I can’t remember when I have played this much golf.”
The week began with one round of qualifying and then six rounds of match play within a four-day period.
For the girl’s championship, Morgan Cox of Easley defeated older sister Maddisen in their semifinal match. Savanah Goodman of Easley advanced to the final match against Cox with a win over Carly Lyvers of Greenville.
In the finals, Cox and Goodman traded holes before Cox took the lead after five holes and the pair halved the next four holes giving Cox the lead after the first nine.
On the back side, Cox birdied the par four Hole 11 to take the lead. The next two holes were halved and then Cox won Hole 14 and Hole 15 to take the title and become the SC Junior Girls’ Match Play Champion.
“I have to thank my sister Maddie for caddying for me after our match. I was really tired but she really made the difference in the last match,” said Morgan.
The winners will play in junior team matches. The girls play July 26 and July 27 in Laurel Fork, Va., while the boys matches will be Aug. 16 and Aug. 17 in Wallace, N.C.
The S.C. Junior Golf Championship is conducted by the Carolinas Golf Association. Golf Pro Brian Summer of Country Club of Newberry said the tournament, although held at their facility, was funded and supported by the association. Participating golfers had to have been in a club associated with the Carolinas Golf Association to participate.
Summer said of the 144 open slots for golfers, they had 124 to sign up. The qualifier on July 8 limited the number to 64 participants. The tournament was split into girls and boys championships.
Jason Cox, director of Junior Golf for the Carolinas Golf Association, said the association began in 1901 and now supports 150,000 golfers in North and South Carolina.
Summer said the Country Club of Newberry was contacted about a year ago about hosting tournaments through the Carolinas Golf Association.
Cox said the Country Club of Newberry was chosen primarily for its location. The Upstate and Columbia have the largest number of golfers in the state, which is why they wanted to stay in this area of the state.
“Their (CCN) reputation, of course, made it a great fit for us,” Cox said.
Golfers came from Bluffton, Hilton Head, Spartanburg, Greenville, Rock Hill and other areas to participate in the junior matches. Golfers ranged from ages 8 to 18.
Jake Montgomery and Will Eckstein of Newberry, members of the Country Club of Newberry, were also participants.
“My dad got me started when I was 6 1/2,” Eckstein said about golf. Eckstein is now 16.
Summer said CPR certified staff members were on standby throughout the week. During the qualifier on July 8, Summer said they went through 24 cases of Gatorade and water to keep players hydrated.
The tournament also was a good opportunity for the golfers to grab the attention of college scouts. Cox said he noticed representatives from the University of South Carolina, Wofford College and Furman University, although he said more might have been in attendance throughout the week.