EAST AURORA - Wil Lockwood and Nolan Ditcher have already made the case over the past few months - a convincing one at that - that they are two of the top high school golfers in the area.
Evidence of that grew even more compelling this week as the pair competed in the 61st annual International Junior Masters, squaring off for a nearly week-long tournament against some of the best junior golf talent (ages 14-18) in, well, the world.
Competing against more than 90 golfers from not only familiar places like New York, Florida, Georgia and Massachusetts but also more exotic locales like Zimbabwe, Mexico, and Columbia, Ditcher and Lockwood, behind solid finishes, showed that they too belong in that prestigious group.
Wil Lockwood, left, and Nolan Ditcher have continued their golfing successes into the summer.
The grueling event, which is the oldest international junior golf invitational in North America, featured a practice round on Monday, a stroke play competition on Tuesday and Wednesday that grouped, in order of finish, competitors into five separate flights, and then match-play (morning and, if victorious, afternoon matches on Thursday and Friday.
Lockwood, a rising junior at Maple Grove High School who recently finished 36th overall at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association state golf tournament, finished in the top 32 during the Tuesday stroke play competition - he shot a 74-78-152 for 23rd - and then reached the quarterfinals of the Consolation Flight.
"(Wil) was very happy to qualify in the low 32," his grandfather, Jerry Lockwood, said Friday. "This is a pretty prestigious event, so (to shoot) a (two-day total) of 152 in his first year ever playing was exciting for him. ... It was just a great experience."
With his top-32 finish in stroke play, Wil soon found himself in the Consolation Flight, where he toppled Jack Gianniny (who'd finished seventh in stroke play with a 148), 3 and 1, on Thursday morning but then fell to his quarterfinal opponent, David Berkun, 7 and 6, later that afternoon.
Ditcher, meanwhile, a soon-to-be sophomore at Randolph who tied for fifth overall (he was the highest Section 6 finisher) at the NYSPHSAA tournament, carded a 79-83-162 during stroke play, putting him in the Silver Flight. He went on to reach the semifinals of that flight.
Ditcher, 15, was the tournament's youngest competitor.
"It was a lot of great golf," Nolan's father, John, said by telephone on Friday evening. "All the kids are good. You're not invited if you aren't a good player. It was a lot of fun and a very enjoyable experience for Nolan."
Though he had a tough start in the stroke play portion - Nolan had played at East Aurora CC just three times prior to this week - he turned it on in match play, toppling Michael Lane of Fairport on Thursday morning, 3-up, and then Christopher Yustin of East Amherst, 4 and 3, later that afternoon.
He fell to Kurtis Campbell (Quebec) on Friday morning in the semifinals, 1-up.
"It was all square going into the 16 and then Campbell birdied to go 1-up," John Ditcher said. "With one to go, both hit good drives and Nolan was on the green, putting for birdie. He ran his putt a few feet past the cup, Campbell bogeyed and Nolan lipped his par putt out so they tied the hole and Campbell won."
All told, the pair played roughly 220 holes over five days - that's considerably more than even the professionals are asked to do - and they're not taking much of a break before their next tournament.
What's next? A New York State Junior Golf Championships qualifier on Tuesday.
And given their track record, expect solid results.