Evan Eichenlaub had five birdies in an eight-hole stretch on the front side at Bethlehem Golf Club during Monday’s Colonial League golf championships.
A storm chased the players off the course for about an hour, but neither the delay nor anyone in the field could stop Eichenlaub.
The Moravian Academy standout had two bogeys and a birdie on the inward side to finish with a 4-under-par 67 to win by five shots over Palmerton’s Tyler Hager, who won the title two years ago.
“After my front nine,” Eichenlaub said, “it didn’t really faze me. I just stayed in my game, my tempo, my routine. The front nine is shorter, so I had to take advantage of that. My wedges, my pitching was on point on the front side.”
There was plenty of drama in the girls competition.
Bangor’s Natalie White walked to the 10th tee during with her mind full of frustration after a front-nine 44, which included a quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 fourth.
Then she lost her cellphone.
“I didn’t know where it was after my tee shot,” White said. “I just said to myself that I don’t really care about the cellphone. That kind of calmed the nerves.”
White found her cellphone by the time she bogeyed the 10th hole, then found her game again. She strung together four pars before registering an eagle on the par-5 15th and a birdie on the par-3 16th.
The Slater finished bogey-bogey to reach a playoff, then beat Moravian Academy freshman Mara Dubacher on the first extra hole with a chip and an 18-inch putt for bogey.
“It was a scary day,” White said.
Dubacher led by three at the turn. She and White bogeyed the par-4 10th before White got a shot back at No. 12 with a par. White got within one with her eagle at No. 15, when her 7-iron from 150 yards bounced up to within three feet. Dubacher made birdie.
White made a 6-foot birdie putt at No. 16 while Dubacher made double bogey. That gave the Slater a two-shot lead. Both bogeyed No. 17 before Dubacher made birdie at 18 while White had a bogey to force the extra hole.
White found the greenside bunker at No. 1, the first playoff hole. Sand play is not her specialty, so she barely got out. But the returning state qualifier’s chip allowed her to overcome her nerves to win her first league title after Dubacher two-putted for double bogey from 20 feet.
“We weren’t playing well in the playoff because our nerves got the best of us,” White said. “But she’s just a freshman. She’s on her way to a great rest of her career.”
White was third last year at districts and tied for 31st at the PIAA Class 3A state meet.
Eichenlaub was second last year at the district 2A tournament and tied for sixth with Hager at states. He spent offseason working on his play off the tee and short game. Both allowed him to post a stellar score and run away early from the field.
“Everything has been going on an upward trajectory,” he said. “I did a lot of work on my long game and my swing and getting a good mental side of the game. A lot of golf is mental.”
All five of Eichenlaub’s birdies came on putts from 15 feet and in.
Palmerton (409) repeated as team champion by nudging Moravian Academy (412) and Southern Lehigh (413). Top five players count toward the team scores.
Hager, Connor Reinhard (77), Nathan Steinmetz (84), Ashton Lesher (87) and Aiden Leister (89) combined to give the Blue Bombers their third consecutive title.
“Our expectations were tempered more for this crew than the last three years’ teams we’ve had,” co-coach Alex Knoll said. “We knew we had some depth issues we were going to have to face today with Southern Lehigh and Moravian Academy.
“We had a player too sick to play, so Aiden Leister stepped into our top eight. He shot a career round. Ashton had one of his best rounds, too. Without those two in our lineup today, it wouldn’t have given our top three a chance to stay in it.”
Eichenlaub, Collin Schreiber (76) and Ford Koch (85) led the Lions. Cohen Resch (76), McClain Bradley (83) and Dominic Cirocco (85) were tops for the Spartans.
Palmerton and Moravian Academy will battle it out in two weeks for the District 11 Class 2A team title. The Blue Bombers have won the last three district crowns.
Southern Lehigh will be among those chasing down defending champion Liberty in the district 3A team race.
Palmerton (13-0), Southern Lehigh (12-1) and Moravian Academy (10-3) finished 1-2-3 in the Colonial League regular season.
Morning Call reporter Tom Housenick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or at [email protected]
Monday at Bethlehem Golf Club (par 71)
Top 5 earn exemption from District 11 qualifying
1. Evan Eichenlaub, Moravian Academy: 67
2. Tyler Hager, Palmerton: 72
3. Frankie Boensch, Southern Lehigh: 73
4. Collin Schreiber, Moravian Academy: 76
5. Cohen Resch, Southern Lehigh: 76
6. Connor Reinhard, Palmerton: 77
7. McClain Bradley, Southern Lehigh: 83
8. Nathan Steinmetz, Palmerton: 84
9. Simon Weed, Notre Dame-GP: 85
10. Ford Koch, Moravian Academy: 85
11. Dominic Cirocco, Southern Lehigh: 85
12. Colin Sarnoski, Southern Lehigh: 86
13. Ashton Lesher, Palmerton: 87
14. Blake Greenawald, Southern Lehigh: 89
15. Andrew Lessig, Notre Dame-GP: 89
16. Aiden Leister, Palmerton: 89
17. Wyatt Adams, Southern Lehigh: 89
18. Jake Martini, Pen Argyl: 90
19. Justin Sebelin, Palmerton: 91
20. Thanos Milios, Southern Lehigh: 91
21. Connor Simms, Northern Lehigh: 92
22. Erik Mather, Northwestern: 92
23. Owen Fogel, Salisbury: 92
24. David Tervalon, Southern Lehigh: 92
25. Jeff Holzbauer, Saucon Valley: 92
26. Caleb Walsh, Southern Lehigh: 92
27. Jake Constantine, Bangor: 92
1. Natalie White, Bangor: 79*
2. Mara Dubacher, Moravian Academy: 79
3. Avri Chandler, Northwestern: 92
The latest sports news locally and nationally, and what’s happening in sports this afternoon and tonight.
4. Ava Smarch, Salisbury: 95
5. Maddie Hagens, Southern Lehigh: 97
6. Mary Frey, Northwestern: 98
7. Sophie Morales, Southern Lehigh: 103
8. Emma Xu, Moravian Academy: 105
9. Addison Remaley, Northwestern: 117
10. Ava Houser, Wilson: 130