Hunter Bruce clinches 97th Junior Championship with final-round 68
Posted June 28, 2017 - By Mike Dudurich, Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich
Hunter Bruce with the Percy Preston Trophy after winning the 97th West Penn Junior Championship
GREENSBURG - Hunter Bruce just loves playing golf. Sure, it’s great to compete in big tournaments, but for the senior-to-be at Peters Twp. High School, it’s just about playing the game.
Wednesday at Hannastown Golf Club in Greensburg, he got to do all of that and more.
Bruce, of McMurray, posted rounds of 70 and 68, and won the 97th West Penn Junior Championship by a shot over Palmer Jackson of Murrysville.
“It’s awesome, very cool,” Bruce said. “You look at the names on the trophy and you realize how awesome it is.”
Jackson was in control of the tournament early, making four birdies and a bogey in an opening-round 67 and that good play continued into the second round when he made a pair of birdies on his first nine holes to get to five-under par.
But once he began his final nine holes, things turned in the wrong direction. He made bogeys on his 10th, 15th and 16th and then double-bogeyed his last hole of the day for a 72.
“I was up against a fence and had to take an unplayable and then had about a 25-foot putt for bogey and missed it by inches,” Jackson, who will be a junior in high school this fall, said. “I got a couple unlucky bounces out there, but that happens. Overall I thought I played good all day.”
Bruce, on the other hand, was in the chase position all day. He got back to even par in the first round after going one-over on his first nine.
A birdie on the eighth hole of his second round kept him even for that nine and set him up for an eventful final nine holes.
“I bogeyed the 10th, but then eagled the 12th and made another birdie on 14,” Bruce said. “I had no idea how that was going to pan out but I’m very happy with how it did. It was very classy by Palmer. He came over and shook my hand and told me congratulations. I really feel for him, but that’s golf.”
Bruce and Jackson, who plays on the Franklin Regional High School golf team, were the only players to finish under par. The course was set up at about 6,600 yards, but gave the 70-plus plays who started all they wanted as 63 rounds of 80 and above were posted.
Mark Goetz of Greensburg finished four shots behind Bruce, Evan Long of New Castle was six back and Louis Olsakovsky of Upper St. Clair was seven behind.
The Junior Championship, open to players 18 years old and younger, trophy is historic, not only because of how long the event has been contested, but because it’s the only trophy on which Arnold Palmer’s name is misspelled. Somehow it left the engraver’s with it saying “Arnod” Palmer 1948. Palmer's name was spelled correctly after his first win in 1947.
Palmer and Sam Parks Jr. have their name on the trophy and are the only two who went on to win the U.S. Open. Arnold Palmer (1947) and Fred Brand, Jr. (1927) are the only players in the Association’s history to have ever won the West Penn Amateur and Junior Championships in the same year.