WEIGELSTOWN — No one on the York County Junior Golf Association Tour has been hotter than Gus Minkin.
The Central York High School golfer won two of the three events he played in this season, and would have swept all three had it not been for a crazy 7-under-par 65 fired by rival Andrew Davis last week at Regents' Glen.
Those finishes earned Minkin the No. 1 seed in this week's George Barton Match Play Tournament at Grandview Golf Course. And after sweeping both matches Tuesday, Minkin set himself up for a title after taking out No. 13 seed Michael Gruver, 3&2, in the semifinals.
While it was hardly a round he'll likely be overly proud of, Minkin was just good enough when he needed to be against Dallastown grad Byron Markle in the finals. The third-seeded Markle, who downed No. 2 seed Davis 4&3 in the other semifinal, rallied from a two-hole deficit with three to go against the rising Panther junior. But after evening things out after 17 holes, Minkin was strong and steady on No. 18.
Minkin stayed out of trouble with his tee shot on the course's long par-3 final hole, chipped onto the green, and sank his putt to claim a 1-up victory over Markle.
It was a banner day for the Black and Orange of Central. Rising freshman Julianne Lee downed Spring Grove's Victoria Ross, 4&3, to claim her second girls' division title in a row.
"This means a lot," Minkin said. "I'm really happy with the way I played. I was able to come back. Each match I was down, except the first one (Tuesday), got things back together and won."
Minkin may have started to count his chickens before they were hatched after taking a two-hole lead with three to play. Back-to-back poor drives on No. 16 and No. 17 led to easy wins for Markle.
"I was so stressed," Minkin said. "I thought I had him after 15, but on 16 and 17 I just hit bad drives. I was in a tree twice and he got back to even."
In tournament play, Minkin's predicament on No. 17 would have likely earned him a nine on the par-5 hole, a fact that wasn't lost on him.
"I'm just glad it's match play," Minkin said with a smile.
Markle's drive on No. 18 was short of the green, while Minkin blasted his just past the hole. The former Wildcat, however, just missed chipping onto the green with his second shot and the ball dropped into the bunker.
That opened it up for Minkin, who chipped and putted to secure the title.
"I'm just glad I made that putt," Minkin said.
Girls' final: While Minkin was sweating it out down to the wire, Lee was already driving around with her caddie, Kendel Abrams, watching the boys duke it out. After surviving a scare against Lauren Parrini in the semifinals before prevailing 1-up, Lee took control from the onset and never allowed the rising Rocket senior a chance to catch up.
"This means a lot to me," Lee said. "I think this is going to be my last year, because I'm going to do the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) tournaments more."
Lee, who raced out to a four-hole lead after nine, may have benefitted from having Abrams at her side. Both rivals will be freshmen this year — Lee at Central and Abrams at Susquehannock — with Lee enjoying the fact that she didn't have to lug around her clubs for the final.
"She said she wanted to do it for me," Lee said. "And my bag is kind of heavy so I'm kind of surprised that she kept on going."
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.