Semifinals set in 99th Met Junior Championship sponsored by MetLife
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (July 13, 2016) – The semifinal matches in the 99th Met Junior Championship sponsored by MetLife are set following two rounds of match play on Wednesday at The Patterson Club. Christian Cavaliere of Katonah, N.Y., Connor Daly of Bronxville, N.Y., Max Theodorakis of Danbury, Conn., and John Felitto of Mountainside, N.J., all notched a pair of wins, keeping their hopes alive to hoist the Mandeville Trophy on Thursday.
Cavaliere began his day with a come-from-behind victory against his high school teammate Nathan Han of Somers, N.Y. Facing a two-hole deficit on the 17th, Cavaliere scrambled for par, getting up and down from 40 yards short of the green. On the final hole, Han found trouble with a difficult lie in a greenside bunker, while Cavaliere was conceded his par for the match. In the afternoon, Cavaliere trailed 2015 Met Junior semifinalist Ethan Ng of New York City by three through five holes. But, a string of four consecutive pars helped the stroke-play medalist close the deficit to just one as they made the turn. The pair halved the first two holes of the inward nine with birdies, while Cavaliere continued the hot streak with two more birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 to take a 1-up lead. A par on the challenging par-3 14th earned him another win, while halves on the next three holes secured the 2&1 victory.
“This afternoon it was kind of a grind,” Cavaliere remarked. “I had nothing going early in the round. I was just not making anything and then it kind of clicked—on the 10th hole I made a 20-footer, then a two-putt birdie on 11 and nice putts on 12 and 13, so the putter just got hot for a little bit.”
Felitto also managed a come-from-behind win in the morning round, knocking off Stephen Sul of Old Bridge, N.J. “This morning I kind of hung in there against Stephen,” said the Notre Dame commit. Felitto trailed by one entering the 17th, but knocked in a lengthy birdie putt, and took momentum to the 18th. “Luckily, I made a good 20-footer on 17 and then was fortunate enough on 18 to win the hole.” Felitto stepped up his game in the afternoon, winning four of the first five holes and carding birdies on Nos. 10 and 13 en route to a 6&5 win over Sean Taylor of Westfield, N.J. The 18-year old entered the day without much match play experience, but has enjoyed the format, saying, “I feel like a lot of the tee shots, I feel less pressure because there’s no big numbers coming into play. You can make whatever you want. It definitely loosens me up and enables me to make a lot more birdies.”
Daly, who is headed to Villanova this fall, defeated reigning champion James McHugh of Rye, N.Y., 5&4 in the morning match before claiming a 3&2 win in the afternoon over Ben Pirro of Bayport, N.Y. The second match stood all-square through the 10th, before Daly birdied the par-5 11th. A par-3 on the 14th and another birdie on the par-4 16th allowed him to punch his ticket to the final day of competition.
Theodorakis, who matched the low round in stroke play qualifying on Tuesday with a 3-under 68, used a 2&1 win over William Rand of New York City and a 2-up win over Connor Daly of Bronxville, N.Y., to advance to the semifinals. Oakley led by one through seven, but Theodorakis claimed Nos. 8 and 9 to take the advantage into the final nine. An eagle on the par-5 11th made his lead two, and while Oakley was able to fight back to just a one-hole deficit on two occasions down the stretch, Theodorakis’ par on the final hole earned him the 2-up win.
The Patterson Club has served as a superb host for the nation’s oldest junior championship. The course requires accuracy off the tee and on approach shots into well-guarded greens, while short game is also key in managing small, yet undulating green complexes—all combining for a perfect test of golf to decide the 99th Met Junior champion.
Thursday’s first semifinal match, squaring off Cavaliere and Daly, is scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m., with Theodorakis and Felitto following at 8:10 a.m. The two winners then meet to decide the 2016 champion. The MGA will provide live scoring for the matches throughout the day, plus Twitter updates and live look-ins with the Periscope app.