Middle Township High School’s David Hicks and Mainland Regional’s Colin Roche are two of the top golfers in South Jersey.
They proved that once again on Thursday in a dramatic Cape-Atlantic League Individual Golf Tournament at Wildwood Golf & Country Club.
The first-team Press All-Stars each shot even-par 72s before squaring off in a playoff. Hicks, the defending champion, won on the second extra hole.
Hicks is the defending Press Golfer of the Year and finished in a tie for second in the CAL tournament as a freshman before winning back-to-back titles.
“It’s something I’m very proud of,” Hicks said. “Especially against the competition we have in South Jersey and the CAL.
“It was really nice being able to pull off a win with a great field.”
Hicks and Roche were an interesting pairing in the playoff.
Hicks is a junior and already a two-time Tournament of Champions qualifier.
Roche is a senior in his fourth year as Mainland’s top player and has reached the TOC three times.
It was also the second straight day that Roche has finished in a tie for first at an 18-hole tournament.
He shot a 1-under par 71 on Wednesday at ValleyBrook in the Carl Arena/Al Rifkin Memorial Tournament.
Roche was a good sport in defeat and said it was hard to be too upset after shooting 71-72 in back-to-back rounds.
“I definitely would have preferred to finish one-up and on top,” Roche said with a laugh. “But I haven’t really played that fantastic this year, so I’ll kind of take what I can get out of this.”
Hicks and Roche each had a par on the first playoff hole.
The second playoff hole was the par-4 seventh.
Hicks and Roche each nailed their drives down the middle of the fairway.
“I hit one of my longest drives, and Colin still put it over me,” said Hicks, who is a member at Wildwood where Middle Township plays some of its home matches.
Hicks left his approach a little more than 10 feet under the hole and Roche about 10 feet past.
But Hicks lipped out his birdie putt, leaving the door open for Roche, who was facing a tough downhill putt.
“I thought that I was going to give it a go,” Roche said. “I thought I could make it. I hit a pretty good putt but it power-lipped by the hole.”
Roche missed the comebacker to take a bogey.
“That was all she wrote,” Roche said.
There is a mutual respect between Roche and Hicks, who are each as dominant in the classroom as they are on the course.
Roche is heading to Cornell as a preferred walk-on.
Hicks is ranked No. 1 academically in his junior class.
“I really like David,” Roche said. “I have a lot of respect for him, not only as a golfer but as a guy. There’s a lot of respect there.”
Even Hicks had a tough time saying exactly why he has had so much success in the CAL Tournament.
“I really can’t tell you,” Hicks said. “I played well, and I got a little lucky.”
Buena Regional's Janice Shpadier shot an 80 to finish as the top girl in the CAL. Hammonton's Erin DiDonato finished in second with an 86.
Contact John O’Kane:
1. David Hicks, Middle Township, 72 (won on the second hole of the playoff)
2. Colin Roche, Mainland Regional, 72
3. Blake Vogdes, Wildwood Catholic, 74
4. Anthony Godleski, Mainland Regional, 77
5. (tied). Eric Dargis, Vineland/Erik Dekarski, Egg Harbor Township, 78
7.(tied). Henry Jungels, Mainland Regional/Dom DiGiacomo, Ocean City 79
9. Mark Benevento, St. Augustine Prep, 80
10. Greg Szrom, Egg Harbor Township, 81