For 16-year-old Father Duenas Memorial School Friars golf standout Markus Nanpei, his first six finishes on the east coast summer tour were rather ordinary. A fifth-place finish up the leaderboard in Connecticut is the closest he had gotten to reaching the podium.
But on Wednesday, liberated from his previous mediocre performances, competing in the Boys 16-18 Division, Nanpei hoisted the first-place trophy above his head at the New Jersey Professional Golf Association Junior Cup Precision Pro tournament in Mendham, New Jersey.
“It felt great to finally win and have the trophy in my hands,” Nanpei said. “It is very promising to win, and it was a great way to end the summer tournaments.
“After months of practice, it feels very satisfying to win a tournament in the U.S. mainland and hopefully it will give me the confidence to win again soon.”
Nanpei, after the first round of the 2-day tournament, after posting a plus-2 74 on the par-72 course, trailed by seven strokes. In Round 2, on a par-71 course, he finished two-under-par, 69.
While Nanpei's game wasn't where he wanted it to be in Round 1, especially his short-game, his putter had become his greatest weapon in Round 2. With four birdies, including a 20-yarder, flags were lifting and balls were dropping.
"My putting was very good and I managed several long putts today,” said Nanpei, adding he wasn’t able to practice on either of the two courses before play began.
Without prior course knowledge, there was no room for error, no time to figure things out.
“I knew I needed to hit fairways and greens,” he said. “My highlight for the day was a 60-foot putt for birdie on Hole No. 10.”