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Chaminade’s Walsh wins Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association’s Junior Championship for boys

By: Warren Mayes

Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when legendary golfer Jim Holtgrieve speaks, you listen and Zach Walsh was all ears.

Walsh, who will be a senior this fall at Chaminade, won the Jim Holtgrieve trophy that goes to the boys winner of the

Zach Walsh [right] and Jim Holtgrieve pose after Walsh won the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association’s Junior Championship.

In the 19th annual event played recently at Forest Hills Country Club, Walsh won with a 5-over 149 on rounds of 75-74.

When Holtgrieve presented Walsh with the trophy, he spoke to him.

Walsh enjoyed the brief visit.

“It was really cool to talk to Jim and for him to give the trophy to me,” Walsh said. “He told me all about Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas and how he coached them in the Walker Cup — Jordan in 2011 and Justin in 2013. He also gave my a pin that he gave both of them which was pretty cool.

“He told me congratulations and he said to keep following my dreams and keep playing my game, and good things will happen.”

Good things happened to Walsh in the junior championship.

Walsh and Max Floyd, who will be a junior at Barat Academy this fall, were tied after 27 holes at 3-over par. They remained tied when they left the 16th hole of the second round.

Walsh stumbled a bit on the par-5 17th with a bogey to give Floyd a one-shot advantage going into 18.

Both boys hit great drives. Walsh was in the middle of the fairway and Floyd just off in the first cut. Walsh played first and hit a hole-high shot knowing he probably needed a birdie to force a playoff. Floyd would miss the green just left of the back-middle hole location.

Floyd played first and had a delicate chip to get up and down. He came up short and had to chip again, which he would settle in about 4-feet away. Walsh missed his birdie putt and made the 4 footer back for par. Floyd had that 4-footer which would send them to a playoff.

However, it spun out and Walsh would earn the title.

This was the first time Walsh had played in the tournament.

“I was playing pretty well going in,” Walsh said. “I still feel like I’m working out some kinks in my swing from a lesson I took a couple of weeks ago.

“There were some good players and it was some good competition in the tournament.”

Walsh liked his chances of winning the event.

“I was pretty confident that I could get the job done,” Walsh said. “Honestly I didn’t have my best stuff especially with my irons, I wasn’t as confident as have been. Like I said, I am still working on some swing thoughts.”

Forest Hills is his home course. He enjoys playing it.

“It does suit my game,” Walsh said. “It is not too long and is very tight and requires you to have a good short game when you miss the green.

“There were some tough pins out there for the tournament.”

In his first round, Walsh said he “played OK.” He hit nine greens in regulation/.

“My short game saved me,” Walsh said.

He quickly forgot the round before he came back for the final 18 holes.

“Honestly, I just wanted to free up and play my game,” Walsh said. “I had a great caddie on the second day. He is a good friend and old teammate of golf from Chaminade, Joe Tershluse. He is a great player and won state in 2017 as a senior when I was a sophomore.

“Honestly as a team that year I felt like We should have won the title, my brother, Drew was also on the team and he was playing very well too, we ended up getting third, which was disappointing in all of our minds.”

Tershluse won the MAGA’s Junior Championship in 2015. His experience in the tournament helped Walsh.

“Joe kept me calm all day and he helped me keep everything simple,” Walsh said. “It was great to have him on the bag the second day, it was a game-changer.”

Walsh and Floyd know each other well.

“Max and I have always played a lot together in the past and he has always been a good friend,” Walsh said. “He is a very nice person and is a very solid player. He is a great competitor.”

On No. 17, Walsh said he “got unlucky and landed in a sandy area in the fairway.”

He couldn’t take relief and ended up making bogey on the hole.

That set up the dramatic 18th hole to end the tournament.

“Joe and I knew we needed to make birdie to win and off the tee we gave ourselves the best opportunity in order to do so,” Walsh said. “I hit a great 3-wood right down the middle of the fairway and had a 6-iron left into a back pin. I hit it to about 20 to 25 feet and Max was barely over the green.

“I ran it by about 4 feet and made the one coming back. Max missed his bogey putt with a lip out.”

Earning the title was satisfying for Walsh but he knew his friend was deserving, too.

“It was cool to get a win and I felt bad for Max because he did play well and unfortunately had a bad finishing hole,” Walsh said. “I have put in a lot of practice over the last couple of months and over the span of this last year and after being so close to win at state it feels great to get a win again.”


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