GILBERTSVILLE >> A season ago, Harvey Smith was playing a practice round at Skippack Golf Course while his Methacton teammates were playing for their third straight Pioneer Athletic Conference Championship.
The only way he was able to keep up with the match was through his Twitter feed.
All that practice, all that watching finally came to fruition on Thursday afternoon.
Smith shot an even-par 35, backing three-time PAC Individual champion Kyle Vance’s 1-under as the Warriors captured their fourth consecutive PAC Championship, 180-186 over Spring-Ford at Gilbertsville Golf Club’s Red Course.
“It was awesome to be out there,” said Smith, who played in the fifth slot Thursday. “I was JV as a freshman, then sophomore and junior year I was filling in throughout the season. This year I really stepped up my game and started to see improvement. I was able to contribute in just about every match this season.”
Smith opened his round with a birdie on No. 1 then moved to 2-under with his second birdie on No. 7. He mixed in five pars before bogeying his final two holes.
“The game came easy for me today,” said Smith, playing in the fifth slot. “I was good off the tee. I hit almost every single fairway, was throwing my wedges tight and making my putts.
“I lipped out for a par on No. 8, then left my approach shot a little bit short on the ninth green. Still though, I’ll take that score any day.”
Ahead of Smith, the match’s lead group proved to be everything as promised.
Vance regained control midway through his round after he strung together a double bogey on No. 4 then followed it up with a bogey on No. 5.
“Down the stretch, I knew I’d need to turn it on,” said Vance. “I didn’t want to come in high for the team. Dan (Rieger) talked and we knew we had to turn it around at that point (after No. 5). We definitely had to put something together.”
The senior birdied three of his final four holes — including a near-chip-in for eagle on No. 9. He hit seven greens in regulation for the round, along with four fairways and used his putter 14 times.
Now having been a part of a four championship teams, Vance called Thursday afternoon the most memorable one yet.
“We have seven seniors who have been a part of this program since the first time we won it,” he said. “It was definitely a team effort, every one of these guys contributed and brought something. We all did it together.”
Spring-Ford No. 1 Ben Pochet was consistent throughout, carding eight pars before saving his best for last — he stuck a shot to within two feet from the pin from 150 yards out to make his lone birdie of the round. He would finish at 1-under along with Vance atop the leaderboard.
“I kept everything in play and kept out of trouble,” said Pochet. “My proximity to the hole, even though I was hitting greens, I wasn’t hitting them real close. That last hole was definitely a good way to finish it out, though.”
Pochet two-putted his first eight holes en route to 17 putts on the round. He hit all nine greens in regulation and landed in five fairways.
Teammate Connor Boham followed right behind Pochet in the lead group with an even-par 35. He opened up with a birdie, then followed it up with a bogey before rattling off seven consecutive pars. Boham used 14 putts, gritting his teeth after a lip-out on a birdie try on No. 8.
Outside of the lead group, Methacton’s Gunnar Gale and AJ Thomas each carded a pair of 1-over 36s playing in the second flight while Connor McCaffrey and Rieger each finished up at 39.
Spring-Ford’s Jon Lumley carded a 38 while Chase Armor shot a 39 in the second flight. Thomas Freed, Jack Wilson and Jack Straub each finished up at 40 to round out the Rams’ scorecard.
Not to be Forgotten
Thursday’s result won’t take away from what was an unforgettable season for the Spring-Ford team.
The Rams entered the championship unbeaten in PAC play — their lone loss an early season non-league tilt against Radnor.
“Our regular season was pretty much flawless,” said Pochet. “We won some really tough matches against some good teams. Of course this stings, but we put in a really good season.”
There’s certainly one business which has been pulling for the Methacton team over the past few seasons.
“Hey, will we be able to make a quick stop at Sonic on our way back to the school?” Methacton head coach Kevin Flanagan asked the bus driver as he climbed aboard following the day’s events.
As per a tradition which began seven seasons ago by Ryan Vance, the Warriors celebrated their championship with a team trip to Sonic Drive-In in Royersford.