Franklin Regional's Jackson prepares for PIAA tournament
Franklin Regional junior Palmer Jackson is preparing for the PIAA golf tournament in Hershey for the third time in his high school career. He has found success at each tournament this season, finishing first in the sectional tournament after shooting a 68 at Willowbrook Country Club, and firing a 4-under 68 at the WPIAL individual semifinal qualifier at Donegal Highlands Golf Course. He then shot 2-over 72 to finish third at the WPIAL finals at Nemacolin Country Club.
At Monday's PIAA Western Regional at Tom's Run, he shot a 73 to place third and advance to the state tournament.
“I could have done better but I thought I played well, winning two out of three,” Jackson said of the section tournament and WPIAL semifinal. “I had a bad start with some tough greens, but I gave myself a chance to win there at the end (at the WPIAL finals), it just didn't go my way.”
“I thought he played well, considering the weather conditions that day,” coach Jeff Traphagen said. “I am sure he was not satisfied with third but in golf it happens. He advanced and will just go out and play better in the tournament.”
Traphagen is most impressed by Jackson's consistency s. Jackson is constantly working on his game and finding ways to get better.
“The way he observes and prepares is like no other,” Traphagen said. “He knows the courses and where the pins are at, he goes in with a plan, and he executes it. With that, his mental game and confidence, he will give himself a chance to win every time.”
“The consistency just comes from training every day,” Jackson said. “I try to hit the range or play nine holes every day to put myself in different situations. The summer tournaments are big as well, getting to play against some good competition.”
Jackson finished ninth at the PIAA tournament last season and was seventh in 2015.
“Putting is always important because you want to be able to finish there on the green when you get the chance,” Jackson said. “But this year I really wanted to focus on driving the ball and getting it where I want it to be.”
“He is always focused on the fundamentals, putting, bunker shots,” Traphagen said. “But this year he has really focused on directing his shot, which I think he has done very well.”
With the state tournament set for Monday and Tuesday in Hershey, Jackson has not put much pressure on himself.
“I don't really have many expectations for myself, simply because it is just added pressure,” Jackson said. “I like to play free and open, so that is what I plan on doing.”
“I always expect him to do well,” Traphagen said. “Hopefully, him and one of his friends Brady Pevarnik, a junior from Latrobe, who will also be in it will be there at the top. They have a nice friendly rivalry that makes each other play better. It's fun to watch.”
Cody Scott is a freelance writer.