A good attitude and a solid swing enabled Johnny Bush of Plainfield Country Club to win the New Jersey State Golf Association’s 97th William Y. Dear Junior Championship on Wednesday at the Raritan Valley Country Club in Bridgewater.
“I was just trying to stay calm the entire time and not let anything affect the next shot. I wanted to just keep playing my game,” said Bush, 17, who defeated 15-year-old Dean Greyserman of Crestmont Country Club, 3 and 2, in the final match.
“My swing is as good as it has ever been. My ball striking is the best I’ve ever had. On Sunday night, I went over to Shackamaxon to work with my uncle (head pro Joe Bush). We went over posture and set up and it worked this week.”
The Bush-Greyserman match was all square through nine holes, although Bush was 2-up through six. Greyserman won holes seven and eight with pars. Once the back nine began, things changed dramatically. Bush hit a gap wedge off the tee on the 145-yard, par-3 No. 10 to six feet. Greyserman’s tee shot went over the green where he ran into difficulty, and he eventually conceded the hole to Bush.
On the par-5, No. 11, Greyserman lost his drive out of bounds and eventually conceded another birdie to Bush, who went 2 up. Greyserman missed the green and failed to get up and down for par on the par-5 No. 12 and when Bush two-putted for par he went 3 up. The players parred in the rest of the way and the match ended on No. 16.
“It’s pretty awesome to me to win this,” said Bush, who made the cut at the NJSGA Open, shooting 74-73-75-222 for a T42 finish. “It’s cool to say I’m an NJSGA champion for the rest of my life. I’m grateful to the NJSGA for running such a great tournament.”
Bush, who is entering his senior year at Cranford High School, won the Plainfield club championship in 2017, the same year he was medalist at the Met Junior. He has two AJGA events lined up for later this month, at Williamsburg, Va., and at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster.
Greyserman is entering his freshman year at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Fla. He is ranked in the top six in the State of Florida in the Rolex AJGA Rankings for the Class of 2022. He was attempting to match his brother, Max, who won the Junior in 2013 and later won the NJSGA Open and Amateur. He plays on the Mackenzie-PGA Canada Tour.
“I played my worst by far in this match. I was spraying the ball all over the place. And I missed short putts I should have made on 12 and 13,” Greyserman said.
In the semifinals, Bush edged Moritz Weigold of Mendham Golf and Tennis Club, 19 holes, while Greyserman edged Carter Nunez of Galloping Hill Golf Course, 1 up.
On the extra hole of Bush’s semifinal match, the par-5, 563-yard first hole, Bush hit his drive into the left rough and the ball embedded in the soft ground. After a short search, the ball was found in area of casual water, which entitled him to free relief in the nearest area outside the casual water (not nearer the hole). His shot from that spot landed 112 yards from the hole in the right rough, from where he hit a lob wedge over a tree and to within 18 feet of the hole.
Weigold’s approach shot ended short of the green in rough and he chipped to four feet. When Bush drained the 18-foot birdie putt that broke from right to left, the match was over.
That semifinal match went back and forth multiple times. Weigold won the first two holes with a par and a birdie. Bush got to all square with par wins on No. 5 and No. 6. Weigold again stretched the lead to two holes with an eagle, dropping a 40-foot putt on the par-5 No. 9, and adding a birdie on the par-3 No. 10, to again lead by two holes.
Bush responded immediately with birdies on both par 5’s, Nos. 11 and 12, as the match again became all square. Then Bush won the par-4 No. 14 with a par and the par-3 No. 15 with a birdie for a 2-up lead. But Weigold wasn’t finished. He birdied the par-4 No. 16 by sinking an eight-foot putt. When Bush failed to get up and down from a right-side bunker on the par-4 No. 18, Weigold won it with a par and the match went to the extra hole.
“I was very fortunate on the playoff hole, getting a drop; and I hit a decent wedge shot onto the green. The putt broke a ton,” Bush said. “I was struggling with the heat and I went 19 holes in the previous match on Tuesday. The key for the final will be the putting because the greens are pretty flat. The guy who makes the most putts will end up winning.”
Weigold, a native of Germany, has lived in the United States for a year. He will be entering his senior year at Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone.
“I’ve learned that the match isn’t over until you finish on 18. I always fight to the end. It’s something that runs in our family,” Weigold said.
Against Nunez, Greyserman built a two-up advantage following a birdie on the par-4 No. 13. But bogeys by Greyserman on the next two holes enabled Nunez to draw even. Greyserman then birdied No. 16, but Nunez got it to all square when he sank a 35-foot birdie putt with six feet of break on No. 17. On No. 18, Greyserman hit his approach over a tree onto the left side of the green, 25 feet from the hole. He sank that birdie putt for the victory.
“I was in the rough a lot more than I was yesterday,” Greyserman said. “That left me with a lot of longer approach shots and longer putts. The key for me in the final will be keeping it in the fairway. It’s good for me to make it this far. I wanted to give myself a chance to win this.”
Nunez is entering his senior year at Columbia High School in Maplewood. The South Orange resident qualified for the 2017 U.S. Amateur and also played in the MGA’s Carter Cup competition last year.
“I will take a lot out of this. I love the way I’m driving the ball. And my putting heated up in the last match. Hopefully, I can get in the top 10 in my next AJGA event in Virginia,” said Nunez, speaking of the AJGA Colonial Junior in Williamsburg, Va.