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DLN ALL-AREA BOYS GOLF: Bennink leads Unionville to another big year

EAST MARLBOROUGH >> Unionville senior golfer Connor Bennink, the Daily Local News 2018 Boys Golfer of Year, particularly admires the grittiness of Tiger Woods.

“He’s my favorite golfer because of his competitive mentality; and especially after his comeback, lots of people are paying attention to golf who usually don’t really care,” Bennink said. “I would love to have the confidence and grittiness that he plays with, even when he’s not at his best.”

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Throughout this fall season, Bennink displayed his own grittiness under challenging conditions.

On the first day of the PIAA Class 3A individual championships at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York, the temperature was 31 degrees as Bennink warmed up for his round. Two days later, at the state 3A team championships, the wind was blowing so hard that the tents by the tee boxes toppled. But Bennink tied for sixth in the individual championship, and led his Indians to a second-place finish in the team championships.

“Connor is very consistent,” said Unionville boys’ golf head coach Jimmy O’Rourke. “You can probably count on one hand the number of balls he’s lost this season. He hits the ball far, too, and is very even-tempered.”

Bennink needed that even-keeled temperament after shooting a 77 in the first round of the 2018 PIAA District 1 championships at Turtle Creek. He rebounded nicely in the second round for a 69, making the cut for the East Regional individual tournament with three strokes to spare, and helping the Indians capture the District 1 team championship once again.

“That 69 was my best round of the season,” said Bennink. “I barely made the cut the first day and had to go low to make the cut and also help the team win for the second year in a row. My putting really came around and worked with my solid iron play all week.”

Bouncing back after a tough start is nothing new for Bennink. In the first round of the 2017 PIAA 3A state individual championships, Bennink took a triple bogey on the sixth hole, but rebounded for a fifth-place finish, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole. For his efforts last fall, Bennink was named the Daily Local News 2017 Boys’ Golfer of the Year, making him the winner of the award for the past two years.

During the regular season this fall, Bennink led the Indians to a 12-0 record with his scoring average of 36.8. It was the second year in a row that Unionville posted an undefeated record.

While Bennink has been a consistent hitter the past two years, he’d like to sharpen his game with the flat stick.

“The strengths of my game this fall have been driving accuracy and iron play – I’ve done a good job of keeping the ball in play off the tee around 275-280 yards and hitting a lot of greens,” said Bennink. “Unfortunately my putting has been frustrating and I haven’t been able to take advantage as much as I would’ve liked to contend to win.”

A National Honor Society member, Bennink will be continuing his golf career at Gannon University next fall, where he plans to major in finance and entrepreneurship.

Although Bennink never won the PIAA 3A state individual title during his four-year high school career, he enjoyed constantly being in contention and helping the Indians earn team glory.

“Playing for Unionville, I have gained lifelong friends and golf buddies,” said Bennink. “I had great coaches and got to meet lots of great people, and was able to play many courses and tournaments that I never would have had a chance to.”

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FUN FACTS >> CONNOR BENNINK

Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption.

Favorite TV show: Stranger Things.

Favorite pre-match pump-up song: Mo Bamba.

Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.

Golfer I particularly admire: Webb Simpson.

Favorite golf ball: Titleist ProV1x ball.

Favorite golf course I have played: Galloway National.

Favorite golf club: Taylormade Mw 2017 driver, 10.5 degree, 45 inches, Evenflow Blue 65 gram 6.0 flex shaft tipped one inch, MCC align grip.

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