PROVIDENCE – It’s getting to be a familiar sight, that of Max Jackson entering the winner’s circle.
Unlike his seven-shot romp at last month’s R.I. Interscholastic League Golf Championship, Jackson needed to survive some tense moments in his quest to cap off another tournament with a victory.
The young phenom from Cumberland and Pawtucket Country Club walked down the 17th fairway at Triggs Golf Course in a first-place tie with Joey Lenane of Dedham, Mass. A strong tee shot gave way to an on-point approach as Jackson gave himself a realistic chance at a birdie putt.
A slight left-to-right break on a 15-footer was correctly read. With the aid of his trusty putter, Jackson succeeded in shifting the pressure onto Lenane, who wound up bogeying the par-four 17th. A workman-like approach on the last hole – another par-four – enabled Jackson to cap off the two-day World Series of Junior Golf with a one-shot victory.
Jackson followed up his opening round of three-under 69 with a plus-one 73 on Friday.
“It definitely made the adrenaline rush a little more,” said the 15-year-old Jackson about his mettle being tested over the final few holes.
The strong finish made a tough two-hole stretch a moot point. A couple of bad swings on holes 14 and 15 led to a pair of bogeys that enabled those in the hunt to close in on Jackson, who sat in a two-way tie for first heading into Day 2 of the junior tournament.
A sophomore-to-be at La Salle Academy, Jackson got back on track with a par on No. 16 before recording his fourth birdie of the day.
“I played that hole perfectly,” said Jackson when asked about the touch he displayed on No. 17. “It felt good to give myself a little cushion going in.”
Under less-than-ideal conditions, Jackson opened Friday’s round with three straight bogeys.
“In my opinion, holes 1-4 is the toughest stretch on the course. To play them in the rain and the wind, it made it even harder,” said Jackson. “I knew that no one was going to go crazy on those holes. I also knew I had easier holes coming up that I needed to bounce back on.”
Jackson played the final six holes of the front nine at one-under (one birdie, five pars). He got back to minus-two for the tournament after draining a 30-foot putt for birdie on the par-five No. 10.
“That was definitely a confidence booster going into the rest of the back nine,” he said.
Things were looking even more promising when Jackson notched another birdie on a par-five, this time on No. 13. There was still a lot of golf remaining and Jackson helped set the stage for a dramatic finish after running into trouble on back-to-back holes.
Ultimately, there was no repeat of how Jackson fared during last year’s World Series of Junior Golf.
“I was in contention after Day 1 last year, but I didn’t play well during the second day,” he said.
For Jackson, the focus now shifts to the R.I. Amateur that begins Monday, July 12 at Kirkbrae Country Club.
“This is very good going into the next few weeks with a lot of big events ahead,” said Jackson. “I love [Kirkbrae] so it should be fun.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03