by Catherine Garrett
Davis High golfer Cole Ponich lived out a dream over the past few weeks as he competed for the United States as part of the winning Junior Ryder Cup team that defeated the Europeans 12 ½ to 11 ½ at Golf Disneyland in Paris Sept. 24-25. The win keeps the streak of six consecutive victories alive in which the Americans have come out on top in the junior event.
“There’s no other experience like this, knowing that you’re representing your country,” Ponich said. This year was especially meaningful to Ponich since fellow Utahn Tony Finau – who is the only other golfer from the state to be on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team – was also the captain’s pick for the American’s Ryder Cup squad.
“It’s super special to have us both compete this year and that does a lot for Utah golf,” Ponich said. “Tony is one of the most inspirational guys and has fought his way to the tour.”
Ponich contributed to the junior team’s winning score with a 2-up victory over Robin Williams/Connor Gough with partner William Moll to begin the tournament.
In his second match on the first day, Ponich secured a 2 and 1 win with Alexa Pano over David Puig/Emma Spitz. A highlight for the Davis High senior in that round was a chip-in for birdie that even made ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top 10 on Sept. 24. “That was the craziest moment I’ve had in golf,” he said. “I picked out a landing area and hit it and had the perfect pace.”
Ponich lost a 2 and 1 match against Williams on the last day, giving him a 2-1 record in the event.
“Cole is not only an exceptional and talented golfer, but truly an outstanding young man,” said U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Captain Allen Wronowski. “He was also really good at helping inspire his fellow teammates and was always supportive of their play.”
Wronowski said that despite the opening ceremonies of the event being disrupted by rain, his 12-member squad sang the national anthem. “To watch those kids draped in the American flag, it was just incredible,” he said.
After the first day of the Junior Ryder Cup, the Americans were up by three points and things tightened on the final day. “It was close there for a bit and then we went and grabbed the last point and a half. I was so emotional, I was crying like a little baby,” Wronowski said.
Wronowski credited Ponich for his “incredible patriotism” during the event. “Cole’s an incredible young man. I can’t wait to see how his career develops,” he said.
“This truly was an unforgettable experience,” Cole’s mom, Becky Ponich, said. “What an honor for Cole to be on that team.”