Mark Benevento Jr. will have some great stories to tell his St. Augustine Prep golf teammates when school is back in session come September.

The 16-year-old Somers Point native and rising junior at the Prep earned a spot on the International Junior Golf Association Team USA team.

Benevento Jr. and IJGT Team USA traveled to Toronto and beat the Canadian Junior Golf Association Team Canada 16-12 in the North American Cup from June 30-July 3 at The Weston Golf & Country Club.

“It was pretty awesome,” Benevento Jr. said. “We had a bunch of team meetings and things like that. We chipped in the hallways of our hotel.

“It was just an overall great time. I didn’t really want it to end.”

Mark Benevento Sr. accompanied his son on the trip. Benevento Sr. is the president of Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point.

“From my perspective, it was incredible,” Benevento Sr. said. “It was harder for me to watch than if I was actually playing.”

The North American Cup uses a Ryder Cup-style format with two days of team play followed by one day of individual matches.

Benevento Jr. won each of his matches in team play the first two days before falling to Team Canada’s top player in individual play despite making four birdies.

“It was an incredible match to watch and I couldn’t be more proud of the way he handled himself in victory and in defeat,” Benevento Sr. said. “He’s becoming quite a nice young man and I’m proud to be his dad.”

There were some wild coincidences involved as well.

In early June, the Beneventos took second as part of a team in a college-amateur event at the Palmer Cup at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware.

Golf legend and tournament namesake Arnold Palmer presented the Beneventos with their team trophy and spoke with Benevento Jr.

“It was an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Benevento Jr. said. “He’s getting pretty old and I wasn’t really alive when he was in his prime, but I’ve heard stories and seen plenty of videos.”

Benevento Sr. said that Palmer had friends at Greate Bay during his time in the Coast Guard.

Palmer’s first career PGA Tour win came at Weston (site of the North American Cup) in the Canadian Open.

Famed golf architect and two-time Open champion Willie Park Jr. (recently inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame) designed Weston. He also designed Greate Bay, where Benevento Jr. is a regular.

Benevento Jr. was a first-team Press All-Star last season as a sophomore with the second lowest nine-hole average in the Cape-Atlantic League. He finished second in the CAL Tournament, fifth in the Carl Arena/Al Rifkin Memorial and tied for second at the Galloway National Challenge.

Benevento Jr. earned his spot in the North American Cup with solid play in IJGT events and said he likes the way his game is progressing.

Benevento Jr. hopes to play in college. He’s always had a solid short game but has gotten stronger and started to gain distance off the tee.

“Last year I didn’t really hit the ball that far and my short game was keeping me up with everybody,” Benevento Jr. said. “But I’ve been hitting the ball a lot further. I have gained 30 or 40 yards off the tee.”

Contact John O’Kane:

609-272-7210

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Started at The Press in 1993 as an Ocean County reporter. Moved to the copy desk in 1994 until taking over as editor of At The Shore in 1995. Became deputy sports editor in 2004 and was promoted to sports editor in 2007.