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Crowded At The Top: C.B. East’s Sheehan among leaders at District One Championship

LIMERICK >> Patrick Sheehan could be classified as a gentle giant.

Just don’t ask his golf ball.

The Central Bucks East junior, who presents himself more like a linebacker than a golfer, finished tied atop the leaderboard at 3-under 69 after the opening round of the District One Class AAA Boys Golf Championships on Tuesday afternoon at Turtle Creek.

“It’s a big confidence boost to post a good number the first day,” said Sheehan, who stands at 6-5 and weighs in at 192. “I played my best on the front nine, but I know I definitely left some strokes out there on the back.”

Central Bucks East’s Patrick Sheehan watches his tee shot during the opening round of the District One Championships Tuesday at Turtle Creek. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Sheehan was sitting at an impressive 5-under 31 after the front nine before stalling toward the finish. For his round, he mixed in four birdies, three bogeys and an unforgettable chip-in eagle from 45 yards out on No. 7.

“I haven’t had a hole-out from that far out in a while,” he recalled of the par-4 No. 7, where he smashed his tee shot 40 yards past the rest of the lead group. “I was just happy and didn’t hit the pin and roll away. It hit the pin and fell in, so I just moved on from there.”

Sheehan is currently tied with Holy Ghost Prep’s Liam Hart and Neshaminy’s Greg Deluca for the Day One lead. Falling in short order behind are Radnor’s David Colleran, William Tennent’s Colin Walsh and Central Bucks South’s Kevin Anthony, who all finished up at 2-under 70.

Hart’s day opened up much differently than he’d anticipated: He opened his round by holing out for birdie from the bunker on No. 1 and was in business from there. For his round, he finished with four birdies and one bogey.

Spring-Ford’s Ben Pochet follows through on a putt during the opening round of the District One Championship. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

“I was hitting fairways, hitting greens,” he recalled. “I putted really well today, probably the best I’ve putted in a while. The only one I’d really like to get back was on No. 18 — I burned the edge of the cup from about 4-feet. It didn’t break at all.”

After a steady day of rain Monday postponed the tournament to Tuesday-Wednesday, conditions were damp but favorable Tuesday as approach shots were sticking on the greens like darts on a board.

Spring-Ford senior Ben Pochet, the reigning District One and PIAA Eastern Regional champion, posted a 1-under 71 along with Strath Haven’s Ben Newlon, Souderton’s Thomas Butler, Bishop Shanahan’s Ryan Conners and Council Rock South’s Matt Fleming.

Pochet got it going early on in the back 9 where he birdied three of his first four holes including a 50-yard birdie putt on No. 11.

Spring-Ford’s Ben Pochet chips onto the green on No. 9 during the District One Championships. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

“I had a few too many careless shots,” said Pochet, playing back his bogey to close out the round on No. 18. “The way the course was playing today I had too many bogeys.

“I’ve got to get off to a better start tomorrow — maybe get back to par a little earlier than eight holes in. I can’t be too upset, though. Any time you shoot under par, you did something right.”

Pochet hit 12 fairways and 10 greens in regulation while flashing his putter 31 times. He had only one three-putt — a lipped-out par putt on No. 16.

A Cut Above

Tuesday’s Day One cut proved to be 5-over 77. In all, 36 players survived the opening cut, which will be trimmed down to 16 regional qualifiers after Wednesday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the second-round qualifiers separated by league:

Central League >> Conestoga saw four members advance to the second round including Ryan Tall (even-par 72), Morgan Lofland (2-over 74), Mike Hamilton (3-over 75) and Alex Cook (4-over 76). Harriton’s Andrew Wallace finished 1-over while Strath Haven’s Kevin Smith was 4-over.

Radnor’s David Colleran tees off on No. 5 at Turtle Creek during the District One Championships. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Ches-Mont League >> Unionville certainly stayed united.

Six members of the Indians’ squad advanced to Day Two including Connor Bennick (1-over 73), Nick Gianelos (2-over 74), Jake McCloskey (2-over 74), Will Bennick (2-over 74), Richie Kline (3-over 75) and Jon Passerello (3-over 75). Downingtown East’s Evan Drummond just survived the cut at 4-over.

Pioneer Athletic Conference >> Pope John Paul II senior Greg Hiriak finished at even-par 72 while classmate J.T. Spina, the reigning PIAA bronze medalist, finished 3-over. Norristown brothers Caleb (even-par) and Josh Ryan (1-over 73) survived the cut along with Owen J. Roberts’ senior Ward McHenry (E). Along with Pochet, Spring-Ford still has life in Nate Pierce (1-over 73), Jack Straub (3-over 75) and Drew Fuhrman (3-over 75).

Suburban One League >> Pennsbury advanced a pair of players in Pat Laushell (3-over) and Chris Dull (4-over) while Hatboro-Horsham’s Hayden Moffat finished 1-over and Central Bucks West’s Luca Jezzeny sits 2-over.

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