LIMERICK >> While lining up his putt for his third straight birdie attempt on No. 12 Tuesday at Turtle Creek Golf Course, Ben Pochet’s vision on the green was quickly knocked off sight when a tee shot came flying in from the group behind.
“I immediately knew who it was,” said Pochet laughing afterward. “Kyle Vance … the one guy who can drive that green.
“I backed off from my ball, reassessed my putt, then sank it and moved on.”
That moment told the tale of the day as Pochet — playing out of the round’s second-to-last group — paid little attention to the rest of the field on his way to capturing the District One Boys Golf Championship on Tuesday afternoon.
“I played my game,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about what anyone else was doing out on the course — just me.
“All of the scores from Day One were really close together, so it could be anyone’s day.”
After opening with an even-par 72 on the tournament’s Day One round Monday, Pochet got off to a fast start Tuesday, sitting at 2-under after his first three holes. He finished the frontside on a down note, though, hitting his tee shot into the water before finishing with a double bogey to move him back to even par.
“The front nine was up and down,” he said. “I was playing a lot better than my score of 36. I knew that if I wanted to be in contention, I’d need to get things going on the back.”
Things quickly got going.
The Spring-Ford junior rattled off three consecutive birdie putts on Nos. 11, 12 and 13 before parring out the rest of the way to close out his round.
“I’m really proud of the way I played over the past couple of days,” he said. “There’s always a lot of nerves involved with this tournament. One poor round can easily cost it for you. I kept myself in good shape both days and never got into trouble.”
Vance, the district’s defending-champion, wound up finishing third with a 1-under 143, posting a 72 on Day One and following it with a 71 to close it out. He finished right on the heels of Bishop Shanahan’s Ryan Conners, who birdied six holes on the back nine on his way to a 1-under 71 and an overall score of 142.
Much like he had the day prior, Conners gritted his teeth through some difficult circumstances. The junior suffered four lip-outs on the round, including one on a double bogey try on No. 9.
“I never counted myself out of it,” he said. “No matter what was going on, whether I was sinking my putts or not. Once my putter and my irons came around on the back nine, I really got things going.”
After stringing together a pair of bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12, Conners rattled off three straight birdies, then mixed in a par before closing out his round with two more birdies.
“I’m definitely happy about finishing second,” he added. “There’s some really good competition, so even just to be able to finish here is something special.”
As evidenced by his 320-plus-yard tee shot on No. 12, Vance’s best weapon on the round was his driver.
A couple times, it also served as his kryptonite.
The Methacton senior hit his drive on No. 8 out of bounds left, the same landing spot he had found himself in a day before. He also rolled one into the water on No. 13 despite out-driving the rest of the field.
“Those were my only two bad drives all day,” he said. “I was hitting my irons pretty well, but I couldn’t really buy myself a putt. Just couldn’t get it going.
Vance hit 10 fairways and 13 greens in regulation, even giving himself four legitimate eagle chances. He racked up four birdies, three bogeys and a double while finishing with 34 putts for the round.
“Now my focus is on to Regionals,” said Vance. “Just have to move on to the next and forget about this one. I’ve gotta go as low as I can.”
The top 16 finishers qualify for next Monday’s Regional Tournament at Golden Oaks Golf Club.
Representing the Pioneer Athletic Conference will also be Norristown’s Caleb Ryan (146) and Pope John Paul II’s JT Spina (150).
In addition to taking the top spot, Pochet served as the leader to a Spring-Ford team which captured the AAA team Championship.
Connor Boham shot a 3-over 75 while Jon Lumley (73), Chase Armor (78) and Thomas Freed (79) followed as the Rams bettered second-place finisher Unionville by eight strokes.