East Brandywine – Catching fire in the middle of his round, Kennett High School senior Evan Brown later survived a quadruple-bogey 8 — a snowman — at the 16th hole to finish with an even-par 72 and win the Ches-Mont League Golf Championship Tuesday at Applecross Country Club.
Brown finished one stroke ahead of a trio of golfers who shot one-over-par 73 — Bishop Shanahan junior Ryan Conners, Downingtown East senior Wills Montgomery and Unionville junior Nick Gianelos.
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The Kennett senior came to the ninth hole, a 512-yard par 5, which has a pond guarding the front of the green, at one-under on the day. He eagled the ninth, and followed up with birdies on 10 and 11 to go five-under through 11 holes.
On No. 9, the long-hitting Brown, a powerful 6-foot-4, 250-pounder, pounded his drive about 320 yards into the rough. From 195 yards, he decided to go with a 6-iron, and fired a shot four feet from the hole, making his eagle putt.
Brown’s putter then heated up, as he knocked in a 15-footer for birdie on No. 10 (par 4, 310 yards) and canned a 25-foot putt for birdie on the 11th (par 3, 146 yards).
The Kennett senior finished the day hitting 15 greens and taking 31 putts.
“Overall I was pleased with my round — there were a lot of positives,” said Brown, who finished second at last year’s Ches-Mont tournament. “I hit the ball well and putted well.”
Brown did a pretty good job of recovering from the fairway rough too. On the 15th hole (par 5, 505 yards), he smashed his drive well over 300 yards into some tall rough on the left. From 165 yards, he hit a 9-iron onto the green, then two-putted for a birdie.
“They key to it all [getting out of fairway rough] is wrist strength,” said Brown.
Standing five under par at the 16th tee, Brown used a 4-iron for his tee shot on the 387-yard par 4, and the ball landed in the right rough behind some trees. He tried to clear the trees with a 9-iron, but hit the shot a little thin and did not escape the trees. He hit a recovery pitching wedge fat, and finished with an 8.
Brown then bogied the 17th hole, but recovered nicely with a par on the 18th, barely missing a short birdie putt.
“The big thing I wanted to do today was advance to districts,” said Brown, who finished fourth at the PIAA championships last fall.
The Kennett senior is committed to Loyola (Md.) University for golf, where he intends to major in business or finance. Outside of Kennett, he’s had some impressive showings in a number of various tournaments, such as the USGA Junior Amateur (where he finished 38th) and the Pennsylvania Amateur (he shot 64 in a qualifying round at Colonial Country Club in Harrisburg). A member of Hartefeld National, Brown has received valuable coaching from several local pros, and has started to work with esteemed White Manor teaching professional John Dunigan.
One stroke back of Brown Tuesday afternoon at Applecross were Conners, Montgomery and Gianelos.
“I was pretty consistent today — I think I had 14 pars today,” said Conners, who finished third at Ches-Monts last fall. “This course sets up well for my game — you have to hit it straight.”
Montgomery, a St. Joseph’s University commit who placed fourth last year, said, “The undulating greens here are tough, and your iron play has to be good.”
Gianelos, whose Unionville squad captured the team championship (Downingtown East was second), finished with a flourish, birdieing No. 15 and then ramming home a 40-foot putt on No. 17 for another birdie.
“I thought the course was in great shape today,” said Gianelos. “The greens were quick.”
In fifth place was Great Valley senior Stephen Borst, who shot a 75. He has been a member at Applecross for the past four years.
“The greens were good and fast today,” said Borst. “It’s a ball-striker’s course, a second-shot course. It suits my game well, because the best part of my game is the short irons. But I really struggled today on the last three holes.”
A total of 25 golfers advanced to Districts. A playoff had to be held among the golfers who shot 86 to determine the final two qualifying spots.