Bruce repeats as WPGA Junior Champion
By Mike Dudurich • July 14, 2018
Mike is a freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich.
It’s amazing what a bit of instruction, a few good bounces and a victory can do for a young man’s summer.
Hunter Bruce, the 2017 West Penn Golf Association Junior champion, had not been pleased with how he had been playing and went to see his instructor, Kevin Shields, after a trip to Pinehurst.
“We started finding something in my swing,” said Bruce, who won a WPIAL title and was a PIAA runner-up while at Peters Twp. High School. “My short game was really tuned, too.”
Thus armed, he became a back-to-back winner of the Junior by shooting a one-over par 143 at Wildwood Golf Club.
He posted a two-shot win over Chris Joson, who was the first-round leader. It wasn’t an easy victory, to be sure, but it was a special one for Bruce.
He became the 12th two-time winner of the Junior in its 98 years of existence. Bruce became the 12th to win consecutive titles and the first since Venetia’s William Miller won three straight between 2003-05.
“This summer hasn’t been my best,” Bruce, who won a WPIAL title as a sophomore and finished second in the PIAA Championships as a senior said. “But I played well in the Junior, however. This feels pretty special winning this for a second time, feels good.”
Bruce posted three birdies (1, 14, 17) and two bogeys (6, 18) on his first 18 of the 36-hole championship. On the second 18, he had two birdies (3, 12) and four bogeys (2, 4, 10, 11). Joson, a 2018 Upper St. Clair grad, shot a 2-under 69 on the first 18, but consecutive double bogeys on his second and third holes on his second 18 put him in a bad place.
“I made those bogeys on 10 and 11, but then played the last seven holes 1-under,” Bruce said. “I guess that win proved to me I can beat some really good players. Hopefully I can keep that momentum going into the fall.”
This fall he’ll be a freshman on the Penn State University golf team, something he’s very much looking forward to.
Among the players Bruce beat at Wildwood was Palmer Jackson, who became a victim to Bruce for the second straight year. A year ago, Jackson seemed to have the event in hand but an errant tee shot at Hannastown Golf Club in the closing holes gave the title to Bruce.
“He’s a great player,” Jackson said. “We both hit it long and have similar games. We’re compatible on the course. I didn’t play great that day. I got off to a quick start, 3-under through five holes, and I thought I’d shoot in the 60s. But I made a double-bogey on 10 and lost it. He played well, though.”
The legendary Arnold Palmer won the event in 1947 and 1948 and that caught Bruce’s eye when he saw it on the trophy.
“The fact that Arnold Palmer is one of the guys who have done it before is pretty special,” Bruce said. “Having my name on the trophy with his is also pretty special.”