Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 22
 
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
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ON COURSE: Princeton High junior golf star Fraser Graham displays his putting form. Last week, Graham fired a one-over 72 to win the individual title in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions held at Rumson Country Club. He is the first PHS golfer to win the crown. It was the third tournament victory this spring for Graham, who is playing in the N.J. Amateur Championship this summer and hopes to make the field for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.

Showing Skill and Coolness Under Fire, PHS Golf Star Graham Wins TOC Title

Bill Alden

Although Fraser Graham carded a bogey on his first hole at the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions (TOC) last week, he wasn’t overly concerned.

“It seems like in most tournaments, I have a tough start,” said Graham, a Princeton High junior who had previously taken individual honors at the Garden State Cup and the Mercer County Tournament this spring.

“At the Garden State Cup, I bogied the second hole. At the Mercer County Tournament, I had a bogey at No. 2 which is an easy hole. It seems like I loosen up after that.”

A key putt moments after the bogey got Graham playing looser at the TOC, which was held at the Rumson Country Club.

“On my second hole, I made a 30-foot birdie putt so I was even after two holes,” recalled Graham.

“I try not to think about what has happened on the last hole. I try to think about the next shot; there are going to be bogeys.”

Over the rest of the round at Rumson, Graham made plenty of good shots as he carded a one-over 72 to place first in the field of 132 players.

As he headed down the stretch, Graham realized that he had a chance to do something special.

“Once I had par on No. 12 and I was one-under, I thought if I could hold it together, I had a chance. I thought that something around par would win and I would have a good shot. I made as few mistakes as possible coming in.”

Shortly after arriving in the clubhouse, Graham got a better sense that the title could be his.

“I saw a couple of 73s on the board,” said Graham. “People were asking who shot the 72 and when I said it as me, they were telling me that I was probably the winner. I had to wait for 10 minutes or so to find out for sure.”

Even though all signs were pointing to a victory, Graham was taken aback when his triumph was confirmed.

“I was excited,” said Graham. “It was hard to understand at first; I was kind of in shock. In the last few days, it has been sinking in that I am the first Princeton High guy to win it.”

Coming into the TOC, Graham thought he had a good chance to make a breakthrough.

“I was excited to play; I didn’t play my best coming in but I thought I could hit fairways and greens,” said Graham.

“I didn’t play that well in the sectional (finishing third) but the two wins had given me confidence. I came into it thinking that I wouldn’t be surprised to do well. The day before I played with my dad and my pro and I was hitting well.”

For Graham, who also stars in ice hockey, taking a more professional approach to his golf has been a major factor underlying his success this spring.

“I didn’t play AAA travel hockey,” said Graham, who still led the PHS boys’ hockey team in scoring as it advanced to the Mercer County Tournament championship game this past February.

“In the past, I didn’t touch the clubs from October to March. This year, I played in tournaments in October and November and I went to Florida to play in February and March. I also started working with a professional for the first time.”

Graham is hoping to keep up his victory march in competition this summer. “I am playing in the Optimist International at the PGS National in West Palm Beach in late July,” said Graham, who is hoping to ultimately play for a Division I college golf program.

“I want to qualify for the national junior amateur; there is a qualifying round at Peddie on June 17. I am also playing in the New Jersey Amateur with an exemption I got for winning the Tournament of Champions.”

In Graham’s view, he now has the game which qualifies him to play with top-notch competition.

“I realize that I can shoot the numbers to win and play with the best people in the state,” said Graham.

“I don’t have to worry about whether I fit in. I have confidence in every type of shot; I don’t have to worry about technique.”

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