junior player of the year
Philadelphia Cricket’s Berman finishes atop
tight Junior Player of the Year race by Tony Regina
During Day Two’s weather delay in the Joseph H. Patterson Cup, Cole Berman paced Philadelphia Country Club’s pro shop, waiting and won- dering. Would Mother Nature ultimately cancel the event’s final round? If so, Berman speculated that 18-hole leader Brandon Matthews would be declared champion and thus overtake the Philadelphia Cricket Club member in the Junior Player of the Year Standings. He became more
pensive as the stoppage lingered.
“I remember looking at the standings the night before and seeing that he (Mat-
thews) was a good amount of points behind me, but with a win, he would move
into first if I didn’t get anything,” Berman, 16, of Rosemont, Pa., said. “I still
thought he was a junior. It was definitely in my mind because I did want the Junior
Player of the Year award. I was definitely nervous, but at the same time, for him to
shoot 65 that round and win, he would definitely deserve points and if it added up
the way it did, he would deserve the award, too.”
His nerves wouldn’t unravel entirely. A Golf Association of Philadelphia staff
member informed Berman that Matthews turned 18 years old two weeks prior to
the event, rendering the Fox Hill Country Club member ineligible to accrue points
in the Junior category. Berman’s 360 total remained safe. He edged Berkshire
Country Club’s Evan Thornton by a scant five points to become the 2012 Junior
Player of the Year.
“It feels good,” Berman said. “It was definitely my goal going into the year.
That’s why I played in as many GAP events as I could. It definitely feels pretty
“It definitely feels pretty good to have
my name on that trophy and to be able
to say that you’re the [Junior] Player
of the Year.”
good to have my name on that trophy with everyone else and to be able to play on
the Mason-Dixon team and to be able to say that you’re the [Junior] Player of the
Year at the end of the day.”
Over the past four years, the player who’s earned the No. 1 seed in the Junior
Boys’ Championship went on to seize the Division’s top honor. Berman followed
the path of his predecessors, carding an even-par 70 to grab medalist honors in the
qualifier at Torresdale-Frankford Country Club. However, he fell in the Round of
16 to Zachary Melnick of Plymouth Country Club in 19 holes.
“It was fun [to be medalist],” Berman, a junior at The Haverford School, said.
“That was a day I really battled. I had three birdies in the last six holes to get me
back to even. Match play didn’t go where I wanted it to. I bogeyed the 19th hole.
I was behind all day and trying to fight and never got it back.”
Berman responded with a strong performance in the Jock MacKenzie Memo-
rial, posting a 1 under at Sandy Run Country Club to place tied for third. That
result kept Berman atop the Harry Hammond Award Standings with a four-stroke
lead entering the Christman Cup—the medal’s final scoring event. He took to
Merion’s West Course paired with his nearest Hammond pursuers—Thornton
and Yardley Country Club’s Reilly Erhardt, the 2011 Junior POY. And both play-
ers gained ground following the Christman’s opening round. Thornton finished at
2 under, Erhardt at even to each climb within two strokes of Berman, who fired a
“I really just had to regroup because I wasn’t too pleased with my first round,”
Berman said. “I really tried to go out and limit the mistakes and make as many
birdies as I could.”
Berman didn’t limit those mistakes; he eliminated them entirely en route to a
bogeyless 4-under-par 66, which vaulted Berman into a tie with Huntingdon Val-
ley Country Club’s Jack Gregor for runner-up rights. He also secured the Harry
Hammond Award by nine strokes.
“It feels great to have the lead every time and come in first at the end,”
GAP accolades weren’t foreign to Berman prior to this season. He won the
Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship in 2009 at Merchantville Country Club. After
that victory, however, calendar conflicts and competitive commitments limited his
GAP presence in the coming years. He only participated in the Christman Cup in
2010 and 2011. Berman reshuffled his priorities to meet his 2012 goal.
“I figured this year, I should make it my priority to play in all of the junior
events,” Berman said. “I made it so my schedule would fit all of them.”
Philadelphia Cricket also influenced Berman’s road to reward. The club fin-
ished second in the GAP Team Matches and appeared in the Team Championship
for the first time in 54 years.
“It [the club’s player depth] has made a huge impact on me, and I know it’s
made an impact on just about everyone at the club,” Berman said. “We all play
together and try to beat each other, but at the same time, we’re all very supportive
of each other. The e-mail chains and the text messages during everyone’s tournaments keep going and going. It’s pretty unbelievable what’s happened at the club.
I know it’s definitely made all of us better. To have the GAP Middle-Amateur
Champion (John Brennan), the [Pennsylvania Golf Association] Middle-Amateur
Champion (Jack Wallace) and three guys in the U.S Mid-Amateur (Brennan, Joe
April and Marc Mandel) is pretty unbelievable. I know we’re all pretty proud.”