Wong, Zerfass win gold
In professional golf there’s often a spotlight on the best player to never have won a major. Questions linger about if or when they might breakthrough.
Up until last Monday, Matt Zerfass might have been the best local high school player in the area never to have won a postseason event. Any question about whether or when he might break through ended last week.
The Hornet senior has been one of area’s the top players on one of the area’s top teams for all four years of high school. He’s earned district medals all three times he teed it up in a District 11 Championship. But a postseason win had eluded him for his first three seasons.
Zerfass got that breakthrough win last Monday in the East Penn Conference Championships at Olde Homestead. He shot even-par 72 to tie Liberty’s Matthew Vital, then won the tournament on the first hole of a playoff.
“I worked really hard the last week knowing how windy it was going to be,” said Zerfass, who will play college golf at St. Joe’s University. “Today definitely gives me a boost of confidence because I know I can do well and I know I can win the events and to finally win one of the postseason events definitely gives me a boost of confidence heading into districts.”
Zerfass was one of two league champs for Emmaus as senior Evelyn Wong won the EPC girls title to help the Hornets to a second-place finish in the team standings at the event.
Zerfass made three straight bogeys on holes 3-5 to fall behind Vital, who had birdied the first two holes to take a quick lead. But the Hurricane junior triple-bogeyed the sixth hole and his lead fell to one stroke. Zerfass followed with a birdie on No. 7, but Vital birdied holes 7, 8 and 10.
Zerfass, who took a bogey on the 11th, birdied holes 10 and 11. When Vital made a double-bogey on the 13th, Zerfass was in front.
Vital birdied the 16th hole to tied things and was in good position on the 17th to get back in front. Zerfass’s tee shot on the par 3 went long and left. He had a putt from the fringe, but a long way to the hole.
“We had a battle going on,” said Matthew Vital. “On 17 he made a huge putt, really good putt, like 50 feet over a hill for birdie. Then I topped it with a birdie. On 18 we both made good pars. All day it was a battle going on.”
The playoff started, and ended, on the par-5 first hole. Zerfass parred and Vital bogeyed.
On a wet and windy day at a course that isn’t on any EPC team’s regular season schedule, Zerfass was pleasantly surprised to shoot 72.
“I thought it was going to be higher,” he said. “But I knew there’s a lot of strong guys in the field. I felt like someone was going to play really well. I didn’t have a specific number in mind. I knew it was going to be tough. But 72 is certainly lower than I thought I would have done or anyone else would have done.”
Wong said the wind was not a big factor for her until the last few holes, which play on higher terrain. She shot 83 to finish seven strokes ahead of second-place finisher Madison Salter of Northampton.
Wong was pleased with her driving accuracy at leagues, but said he short iron play could use some improvement before districts.
The Emmaus senior is the defending District 11 girls champion, having won last year’s title in a playoff. With it being just her second year on the team, the league tournament was a new experience for Wong as the 2020 event was canceled as a result of the pandemic.
“Last year was my first season and we didn’t have a league tournament so I didn’t know what to think,” she said.
The district tournament is a different matter. She shot 76 at last year’s district tournament and said she’s excited to get to districts and see players that are friends but weren’t on the Hornets’ schedule this year.
Wong, who will play college golf at Lehigh University, has enjoyed her senior season not only because of her success and that of her team, but also because she’s been a full-time student at the high school after home schooling as a junior.
“I was excited to come back this year,” she said. “The year before I was home-schooled because I couldn’t come back from China. This year I’m actually going to Emmaus and after school I get to come to the course and hit with my friends.”
Zerfass, Wong and friends played to a second-place team finish Monday with a team score of 321. Liberty, which beat Emmaus by three strokes in a regular season match, won the district team title with a score of 311.
Hornet senior Matt LeBlanc shot 81 to place sixth at leagues. Noah Schurman’s 85 for 13th place rounded out the Hornets top four, while teammate Patrick Bova shot 93 at leagues.
Wong and Zerfass are both exempt from district qualifying and will head into the District 11 Championships next Tuesday at the Steel Club in Hellertown.
Zerfass is looking to cap what has been a stellar run in district championship play. He’s finished fourth at districts twice (2020, 2018) and was the runner up as a sophomore in 2019.
LEBLANC WINS D-11 QUALIFIER
On Monday several Hornets competed in the District 11 qualifying tournament at Olde Homestead with hopes of reaching next week’s district championship.
LeBlanc was one of three Emmaus boys who competed in the qualifier in hopes of advancing to next week’s championship tournament. LeBlanc didn’t just advance, he finished first in the Class 3A field at the event. The Hornet senior shot 4-over par 76 Monday to beat Liberty’s Michael Vital by one stroke.
LeBlanc was five shots ahead of Vital after six holes, but the Hurricane played the final 10 holes at even par to make up some ground.
Emmaus sophomore Noah Schurman shot 81 in the qualifier to finish in seventh place. He will advance to his first district championship tournament. Schurman bounced back from a front-nine 42 to shoot 39 on the second nine and keep his individual season alive.
Emmaus senior Patrick Bova shot 87 Monday to finish 21st overall in Class 3A, which was one stroke short of a 15th-place tie and earning a spot in next week’s championship.
The top half of the 35-player field advances to the championship tournament.