Hunter wins club tourney

Published 10:32 pm Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ben Hunter of Suffolk recently won the 2013 Men’s Club Championship at the Elizabeth Manor Golf and Country Club.

After a dramatic second round, he finished with a two-day total of 135, three strokes better than B.J. Maben, who is the assistant coach of the golf team at the Apprentice School, where Hunter attends and plays.

“I felt really good about it,” Hunter said of his performance. “The goal that I set for that weekend, in particular, was just to improve my round from Saturday to Sunday.”

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His first-round total was 68, and he produced a 67 on Sunday. Fulfilling this goal made the win even sweeter, but the victory did not come easy.

“I was actually behind three strokes going into the second day, and I told myself before the round, just try to get it going early.”

He did just that on the first five holes, which he finished birdie, birdie, par, birdie and par. Meanwhile, Maben, who was the leader after shooting a 65 in round one, started out going bogey, par, double bogey, par and bogey.

Hunter completely turned things around, and he said, “I actually had a four-shot lead going into the back nine.”

But the back nine proved to be very back and forth, and he said, “We were all square going into the 18th hole.”

“B.J. hit his tee shot out of bounds, and I ended up birdieing the hole,” Hunter said. “He ended up making a double bogey.”

Maben felt he made a good comeback, but he said Hunter was the better player on the day.

“He played very well,” Maben said. “He definitely deserved to win. It was neat watching him, how he played. He played two very solid grounds of golf. When you play that well, you should definitely win.”

Maben had a great golf career when was a student at the Apprentice School, setting records and making his mark.

Later, as a coach, he recalled recruiting Hunter to the Apprentice School. “I knew from day one that he was something special.”

Maben said Hunter, a senior, now holds all the Apprentice School records.

Hunter said he enjoys playing alongside his coach. “It’s fun. We go at it all the time during practice for the Apprentice School.”

The club championship proved to be redemption for Hunter, who had lost to Maben the weekend before in a match play event at Elizabeth Manor.

This was the first time Hunter had competed in the club championship, and he also had the distinction of being the event’s first African-American winner.

“I guess to be the first at anything is special,” Hunter said. “I’m just grateful that I won the event and just grateful that, hey, I was the first African-American to do it.”

Also citing Hunter’s success in the last few years at the Elizabeth Manor-hosted Eastern Amateur Golf Tournament, Club General Manager and Golf Professional Dan O’Boyle said, “He’s a nationally accomplished player, and we’re thrilled to have him as our champion.”