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Rolling Through: Pochet storms back, claims second straight District One title

LIMERICK >> Two things were threatening to approach all day on Wednesday — thunderstorms and Ben Pochet.

Fortunately for most, only one of them rolled through in the afternoon.

Pochet, a senior at Spring-Ford, put together a flawless second round at Turtle Creek to rally back and claim the District One Class AAA boys golf championship for the second straight season.

Spring-Ford’s Ben Pochet sports his medal after claiming first place at the District One boys golf Championship at Turtle Creek. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

“This is by far the best round I’ve ever played in a tournament,” said Pochet who followed up Tuesday’s 2-under round with a 7-under on Day Two. “Best back-nine, best nine holes I’ve ever had, too. This is such a good way to go out — my last tournament round here (Turtle Creek), probably ever.”

Pochet trailed Central Bucks East junior Patrick Sheehan by three strokes with three holes to go before stringing together a clutch birdie-birdie-par finish while Sheehan stumbled down the stretch with a double bogey on No. 16.

Ben Pochet of Spring-Ford putts on the 14th hole at the PIAA District Golf Championships at Turtle Creek Golf Club Wednesday. Pochet won the Boys AAA class with a -7 par, he also qualified for states. (Pete Bannan – Digital First Media)

For his second round, Pochet had a clean scorecard while mixing in seven birdies — five on the back-nine — and 11 pars. He hit 13 fairways, 15 greens in regulation and pinged his putter 26 times, aided by a chip-in for birdie on No. 5.

“Going into the last three holes, I was thinking I’d have to birdie-out to have a chance to catch Patrick,” recalled Pochet. “I hit some big putts, some really good wedge shots down the stretch.”

Pochet got his late run started on No. 16. The Drexel University commit stuck an approach shot to within inches of the pin, then came away with a tap-in for birdie. He followed that up with a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 17.

Then the nerves finally settled in on No. 18.

After hitting his second shot out of the bunker on the left of the fairway, Pochet stood over his ball while eying up a 200-plus shot over the water and onto the green.

“It didn’t hit me until I was standing over the shot, and I almost backed off,” said Pochet, of the decision to either go for the green or play it short.

Ben Pochet of Spring-Ford taps in on the 14th hole at the PIAA District Golf Championships at Turtle Creek Golf Club Wednesday. Pochet won the Boys AAA class with a -7 par, he also qualified for states. (Pete Bannan – Digital First Media)

After a quick moment of deliberation, Pochet landed it within 15 feet of the pin where he would two-putt to end it with a par.

“I needed a few minutes to catch my breath there after I hit it,” said Pochet with a laugh. “Last hole — knowing that I was ahead, knowing that Patrick still wasn’t finished, you just do what you can in that spot. I was swinging it well all day, so I trusted it.”

Sheehan certainly didn’t finish quietly.

Needing to hole-out for a double eagle from 240 yards out on No. 18 to push a tie with Pochet, Sheehan’s approach shot struck less than a foot from the pin. From there, he’d two-putt his way to a runner-up finish.

“I’m happy but disappointed at the same time, I can’t lie,” said Sheehan, who led at 3-under after the opening round. “I kind of just got beat outright today. Ben played so well, especially late.”

The 6-5 long-drive specialist finished 3-under for his second round, mixing in seven birdies, two bogeys and a double along with eight pars on the day.

In total, 16 players from the field of 30 advanced to next Monday’s Eastern Regional Tournament at Golden Oaks. With favorable conditions throughout both days of the tournament, the final cut sat at 1-over 145.

Neshaminy’s Greg Deluca finished at 4-under 140 for the tournament followed by Norristown’s Caleb Ryan in fourth with a 3-under finish.

Caleb Ryan of Norristown finished -3 to finish in fourth place at the PIAA District Golf Championships at Turtle Creek Golf Club Wednesday. With the round Ryan qualified for states. (Pete Bannan – Digital First Media)

Pope John Paul II senior J.T. Spina erased a forgettable opening round right from the get-go for a fifth-place 2-under to finish tied with William Tennent’s Colin Walsh.

Entering the day sitting at 3-over, Spina birdied four of his first six holes en route to a 5-under 67.

David Colleran of Radnor tees off on the 18h hole at the PIAA District Golf Championships at Turtle Creek Golf Club Wednesday. Colleran tied for tenth and qualified for states. (Pete Bannan – Digital First Media)

“I was happy just to be able to play today,” said Spina. “I ended my round with a 20-foot putt yesterday, or else I probably wouldn’t have made it here. I knew I’d need to go under-par just to have a chance today.”

* * *

Also among the qualifiers were Owen J. Roberts’ senior Ward McHenry, Central Bucks South’s Kevin Anthony and Holy Ghost Prep’s Liam Hart, all of whom finished at 1-under 143. Radnor’s David Colleran, Unionville’s Connor Bennick and Conestoga’s Morgan Lofland each shot even-par 144.

Five players who finished at 1-over battled it out for the final four spots with a playoff.

Norristown’s Josh Ryan, the freshman brother of Caleb Ryan, and Strath Haven’s Ben Newlon each birdied the first hole to survive the first wave.

Then on No. 9, Unionville’s Richie Kline and Council Rock South’s Matt Fleming each chipped-in for birdie while Bishop Shanahan’s Ryan Conners left his birdie putt just short to miss the cut.

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