Four tough matches and Jackson is a champion again

Posted July 12, 2017 - By Mike Dudurich, Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich



Palmer Jackson with the C.R. Miller Memorial Trophy after winning the 44th C.R. Miller Memorial Match Play Invitational

FOX CHAPEL – For a golfer, especially a young one, there’s nothing better after losing a big championship than winning a big championship not long afterward.

Palmer Jackson of Murrysville is the latest example of exactly that. Jackson, who’ll be a junior at Franklin Regional High School in less than a couple months, suffered a crushing loss in last week’s West Penn Golf Association’s Junior Championship at Hannastown Golf Club.

That was an event that was in his grasp the entire day, but an unplayable lie and a missed putt on the final hole made him a runner-up instead of a champion.

“That was very tough because I thought I played really well,” Jackson admitted Tuesday after winning the C.R. Miller Match Play Invitational at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

Monday and Tuesday’s gathering of the top 16 juniors in the West Penn Golf Association made the memories of Hannastown distant ones. Jackson won four tough matches over those two days, including a real struggle in the final against Louis Olsakovsky of Upper St. Clair.

Neither player led by more than one hole until Olsakovsky made consecutive bogeys on 15 and 16 to put Jackson up 2 with two to play. When the two parred 17, the match was over, 2 & 1.

“I thought I played well all day,” Olsakovsky said. “I made a bad swing on 15 and then missed a 5 or 6-footer on the 16th green, but other than that it was a lot of fun.”

On 15, the soon-to-be Allegheny College freshman hit his drive into the right rough and a couple large trees blocked his clear vision of the green. But he played an aggressive shot up over those trees and it went over the green, leaving him with a difficult chip back down to the green.

That chip ran by and he missed his putt for par.

And Olsakovsky’s putt on the next hole was aggressive as well.

“I was trying to be aggressive with that second shot and the putt,” he said. “For me, especially in match play, I play better when I’m aggressive.”

This time the aggressive play didn’t pay off and Jackson became a two-time C.R. Miller champion. He also won at Sewickley Heights in 2015. The only other players to win it twice are Easton Renwick and Justin Smith.

From an overall perspective, the finalists put on quite an exhibition on the warm and occasionally stormy day. In his semifinal victory over Skyler Fox, Jackson chipped in for a birdie off the cart path behind the sixth green.

In the final, he rolled in a 30-foot putt for a birdie on the same hole.

“I was really trying to get the ball up there to tap-in range,” he admitted. “We’re good friends and we’ve played a lot of golf together and it’s always fun, just like it was today.”

It’s been a good summer thus far for Jackson, who won the Pennsylvania Junior Boys Championship at Hershey Country Club earlier in the year.

Jackson knows that continued success this summer will help him in the long run.

This year there’s a lot of pressure for college,” said Jackson, who is still considering options for his collegiate career. “Now is the time the coaches really look at you.”