Top honors for Nazareth duo
TJ Bohl called the victory a “stepping stone.” Ethan Honsel said it served as a “confidence booster.”
Bohl and Honsel, juniors at Nazareth Area High School, started off their season in style Friday morning, shooting an 8-under 62 to win the 19th John Wasser tournament at Shepherd Hills Golf Club.
Coupled with a strong performance in Thursday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference opener, Bohl and Honsel are extremely optimistic about their high school season. Nazareth, coached by Jarret Hoff, amassed a team total of 398 to easily best Bethlehem Catholic, Freedom and Whitehall in the opener.
“Definitely, Emmaus is the team to beat,” Honsel said of the talented, young Green Hornets, who are considered the preseason favorites. “I think we can change that, though.”
“Emmaus and us are the two big threats,” Bohl agreed, “but they’re favored by area golf people.”
Though not an official scholastic event, the Wasser Cup draws two-player teams from high schools all across the Lehigh Valley. The tournament debuted in 2001 to honor John Wasser, who was struck by lightning and killed on a golf course in 1998. Wasser’s family organized the event in part to highlight junior golf in the area.
Bohl and Honsel were on-point from the start Friday, carding eight birdies, while avoiding any bogeys.
Their nearest threat, Emmaus’ team of sophomore Matt Zerfass and freshman John Keba, shot a 66 to finish four strokes behind the winners.
“Putting,” Honsel said of the key to the round. “TJ dropped everything within 15 feet. He kept dropping them and a lot were birdies. We hit some very good wedge shots, too. Our short game was the key.”
“That’s probably the best I’ve putted in a while,” Bohl admitted. “Ethan hit the drives, I hit the putts. And we were both sharp with the short game.”
Bohl and Honsel walked off the Shepherd Hills course with a big trophy, Nazareth’s first Wasser Cup title since Trevor Buss and Evan Fahs won the better-ball event in 2016. Buss and Fahs shot a 65.
“It was really enjoyable,” Bohl said. “It means a lot to bring another Wasser Cup back to Nazareth.”
Coach Mo Bryan’s Green Hornets enjoyed a successful Wasser Cup tournament, as both two-player teams shot below par and placed among the top six.
Zerfass and Keba were runners-up, while junior Michelle Cox, the conference’s girls champ last season, and sophomore Aiden LeBlanc settled for sixth place with a 1-under 69.
Emmaus showed its strength in Thursday’s EPC opener, easily outplaying contenders Liberty and Northampton. Emmaus secured the EPC regular-season crown and the District 11 3A team title a year ago, while Northampton captured the EPC tournament title last year.
Patti Cox, an assistant to Bryan who represented Emmaus at the Wasser Cup, said the annual event was a great way to start the season.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Cox said. “It’s a chance for everyone here to reconnect with players from others schools. The local golf community is tight. And it certainly was a confidence-builder for John Keba, our freshman, as well as Matt, Aiden and Michelle.”
Best of the rest
Southern Lehigh’s tag-team of Chris Andrews and Roman Lisicky shot a 2-under 68 to take third.
Liberty senior Joey Altemose partnered with freshman Matthew Vital to place fourth, also at 68.
Altemose teamed up with Evan Cartwright to win the Wasser Cup a season ago. Vital, who won the national Drive, Chip & Putt competition at Augusta National in April, is a promising ninth-grader at Liberty.
Nazareth’s TJ Bohl, left, and Ethan Honsel fired an 8-under 62 to win the Wasser Cup.
Emmaus’ top four of Michelle Cox, from left, Matt Zerfass, John Keba and Aiden LeBlanc are the reason the Green Hornets are picked to win the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference title.