Incoming Freshman John VanDerLaan Wins New England Amateur Championship
WINCHESTER, Mass. - Florida Southern freshman-to-be John VanDerLaan made his first ever appearance in the New England Amateur memorable on Thursday as the Southbury, Conn., native took home the coveted championship trophy at the 85th annual event held here at the Winchester Country Club.
VanDerLaan, who has already won a Connecticut junior championship, a high school championship and was the low amateur at last year's Connecticut Open, finished the 72-hole, three-day New England Championship by shooting a six-under par 278 on the 6,832-yard Winchester Country Club course.
Entering Thursday afternoon's final round of the event, VanDerLaan, who signed with the Moccasins during the spring recruiting period, was tied for 10th after shooting a five-under 208 for 54 holes. In fact, VanDerLaan was six shots back following Wednesday's second round.
"It is awesome," VanDerLann said in a release from the New England Golf Association after winning the New England Amateur Championship. "The best players in New England for the most part were here, and to play as well as I did for four rounds to earn that title is pretty awesome."
He opened the championship by firing a one-under par 70 on Tuesday, before shooting an even-par 70 in Wednesday's second round to enter the final 36 holes on Thursday sitting six shots off of the lead.
In Thursday's final two rounds of golf, VanDerLaan, who is a graduate of Pomperaug High School, played the final 36 holes of the tournament at 5-under par to make up his six shot deficit. After making par on his first hole (No. 10) of the day in the third round, he proceeded to make two straight birdies and finish shooting a two-under 34 on the back nine, before carding three birdies and a bogey over his final nine holes in the third round to push himself into first place after 54 holes.
He opened the fourth round on Thursday afternoon by shooting an even-par 35 on the front nine and suffered a three-putt bogey on the 10th hole to drop him to four-under with eight holes remaining. He would rebound though as he chipped in from the bunker on No. 11 for a birdie and then sealed his championship by scoring a birdies on the 530-yardm par 5 13th hole. The birdie was his 16th of the championship.
"That really turned things around for me," said VanDerLann of his bunker shot on the 10th hole. "I made another birdie two holes later and then just cruised in from that point."
Those two birdies on the back-nine of the fourth round were crucial for VanDerLaan as Boston College sophomore-to-be Nicholas Pandelena of Atkinson, N.H., was making a charge up the leaderboard. Pandelena, who was in second after the first two rounds, was at one point sitting at 5-under through 14 holes during the fourth round after a four-hole stretch where he was 4-under par (two birdies and an eagle on the 12th hole). Pandelena, though, couldn't get any closer as he bogeyed two of the last four holes to settle for second place overall after shooting a 3-under par 281 for 72 holes. University of Connecticut sophomore-to-be Zach Zaback finished third as he shot a 2-under 282 for 72 holes.
Click here for complete results of the 85th Annual New England Amateur Championships