Thursday June 20, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Peter Goszewski, who here hits out of a sand trap, qualified for the International Junior Masters later this month.
Just days before playing in a qualifier for this summer’s International Junior Masters competition, Peter Goszewski found himself revamping his swing with the instructor he works with at Wanakah Country Club.
With the major adjustment Goszewski was in the midst of making to such an important element of his game, it would seem the Hamburg resident might be a long shot to finish among the top five, which is necessary to qualify for the prestigious international tournament to be played in Western New York.
But that new swing came around just enough in the nick of time to land the soon-to-be senior at St. Francis High School into a three-player playoff for that final qualifying spot during the competition in May.
Then on the second hole of the playoff, it was up to Goszewski’s short game after a well struck first shot on a par-three hole to determine his fate. He sank a birdie to qualify for the International Junior Masters, a well-known amateur golf tournament, which brings in some of the best players from all over the world, from June 25 to 28.
“A couple days before the tournament, I was still going through some swing changes,” Goszewski remembers. “I wasn’t hitting well, but started to strike the ball well at the tournament and gained confidence from that. I thought if I played my game, I’d have a chance and here I am.”
Now, along with having his confidence back, he’ll also have somewhat of a home course advantage. The tournament will be played at the same East Aurora Golf Course where he qualified just last month.
“I may have the competitive edge,” Goszewski said. “I’ve been playing there for a while now.”
Regardless of how he performs there, Goszewski feels completely honored to be a part of this tournament, which has seen past competitors eventually turn professional such as Jim Furyk.
“The tradition itself is great,” Goszewski said. “There are great amateurs coming to play from all over. It’s a good life experience. To play against guys from different countries is a very cool experience.”
He was first introduced to the idea of attempting to qualify by fellow members at Wanakah Country Club. He submitted an application but wound up not being among the around 60 golfers chosen to take part in the International Junior Masters. He had to win his spot at a qualifier.
At the event, Goszewski finished with a 78 and in a three-way tie for fifth. After a par on the opening hole and one of three being eliminated, he watched as his remaining opponent hit an approach onto the green and within distance for a make-able putt.
Undaunted, Goszewski landed his first shot in right about the same location around 10 feet from the cup. He watched as his opponent missed his birdie putt and then he stepped up and made the shot to win the playoff and earn the last bid into the tournament.
It was an even more gratifying moment because 20 to 30 of the players at the event gathered to watch the playoff and were heard ‘oowing’ and ‘aahing’ during the final shots. It was also the weekend of Mother’s Day. His mother, Mary, along with father, Peter, have been so very supportive, even during the tougher times when he was close to quitting the game.
“I told my mom, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ afterward,” said Goszewski, who credited members at Wanakah as well for encouraging him to take this step. “I was able to keep my composure pretty well during the day. The one guy left in my group was very consistent so I knew it would be tough at the end. I just played my game and kept my head straight.”
Also among those who Goszewski credits are swing coach, Steve Parker, the former head coach at Akron University and at Firestone Golf Club, along with being a two-time Instructor of the Year in Ohio.
Goszewski has also learned plenty from his golf instructors at St. Francis, head coach Chuck Stephenson and assistant Mike Cullen, the father of Cory Cullen, who will be golfing next season at Canisius College.
“They’ve helped me so much with the mental part of my game,” Goszewski said. “As everyone always says, the sport is 90 percent mental and I have to thank them for making me a strong player with that. It used to be the worst part of my game.”
Having already played in tournaments such as the New York State Amateur Qualifier and Buffalo District Tournament, Goszewski now aspires to take his game to another level so he can play in college like his now former teammate Cullen.
“Cory’s been like a big brother and been so helpful,” said Goszewski, who’s had some interest from potential college suitors and will look to go down south for college. “He’s always telling us what to do in bad situation and how to fight back when you’re down. He and his dad have both helped me.”
Goszewski also looks forward to playing during his senior year as he’ll once again be teammates with a very supportive little brother, Paul. It’s that kind of support from family members and coaches that Goszewski feels has helped get him to this point.
And with that support and imparted knowledge, Goszewski now hopes he has his game, including that new swing, working again at the biggest of events for him so far in his life.
“It’s helped me a lot working with Steve (Parker) for the last two years,” Goszewski said. “Changing the swing was for the better. It was ugly at times, but now it’s coming along well. Some changes here and there should have it coming around just about at the right time for the Junior Masters, so I’m excited to see what I can do.”