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Woodson wins Virgina State open, Eklund is low amateur
MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (July 22, 2012) -- MIDLOTHIAN –– Professional Jay Woodson, 30, of Richmond delivered his second consecutive round of 4-under-par 68 and blew past the field to post a four-stroke win at the SunTrust State Open of Virginia, which concluded Sunday at the 7,033-yard, par 72 Independence Golf Club.

In claiming his first SunTrust State Open title, Woodson finished the championship at 13-under 275. Charlottesville’s Weston Eklund, a 22-year-old rising senior at Radford University closed with 2-under 70 to take home low amateur honors and was runner-up at 9-under 279. Amateur Ji Soo Park, 19, of Centreville, a rising sophomore at the University of Virginia had 71 (7-under 281). Fellow Professional Steven Pierce, 26, of Centreville, with whom Woodson was grouped in the final round, concluded play with 74-282.

Woodson, who plays the developmental NGA Tour, will have his name engraved on the Farmington Trophy and etched his name into history. He became the seventh player to triumph at the VSGA Amateur and the State Open. The others are Keith Decker, Vinny Giles, Chandler Harper, Tom McKnight as well as brothers Bobby and Lanny Wadkins. Woodson won back-to-back VSGA Amateurs in 2002 (Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach) and 2003 (central Virginia’s Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot).

He turned professional in the spring of 2004 and has been eyeing a SunTrust State Open triumph ever since. Woodson was a part of the winning team at Monday’s pro-am at the event; now, he’ll have to make room for a larger and much-coveted trophy.

“This is a big win. I won the VSGA Amateur two years in a row and as soon as I won those Amateurs, I wanted a piece of the Open, so this is very special,” said Woodson, who picked up the $7,000 winner’s check as the low professional.

With soft greens and conditions ripe for scoring if competitors drove it in the fairway, Woodson used a deft putting touch to take control of the championship. After starting the day at nine under par, he ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch between Nos. 2 and 5, making a combined 50-plus feet of putts during that deciding span. He holed putts inside 20 feet at Nos. 2 and 4, knocked in a 6-footer at No. 5 before sweeping in a left-to-right breaking 18-footer at No. 6 to get to 12 under and move five strokes ahead of his next-nearest pursuer in Pierce.

Woodson one-putted the first six holes to turn in 3-under 33. He knocked in birdie putts of 7 and 22 feet to start the inward half and used just 13 putts through the first 11 holes to get to 14 under before rolling to his seventh victory as a professional.

For all of his ball-striking prowess, Woodson’s performance on the putting surfaces was a large determiner of the event’s outcome.

“I think you get that rhythm. You get the speed down and everything else becomes a lot easier,” Woodson said. “You can read putts a lot easier and the lines just kind of pop up at you when you have the speed really dialed in. I knew I was putting well. All I was trying to do was hit my lines and get the ball rolling.”

Woodson has won two tournaments in just over a month’s time frame; he captured the NGA Tour’s ComSouth Classic in Hawkinsville, Ga., in June.

“To win a full-field event, a four-day event – any tournament for that matter – to go out and win, outlast some really good players, stick with your game plan and believe in yourself and actually pull it off – that’s huge,” Woodson said.

“Regardless of where it’s at or how many players are in the field, if you can get through a tournament like this, it carries over through the end of the year. And you can always look back – I won the [SunTrust] State Open of Virginia. I was able to outlast my own emotions, my own mental thoughts and get the job done.”

Admittedly, this triumph holds particular significance for Woodson, who says his first exposure to golf at some of the highest levels came from watching his uncle, Mike Moyers (PGA professional at Greene Hills Club in Stanardsville), play in the SunTrust State Open while he was growing up and starting to get acclimated to the game.

“I just thought it was the coolest thing,” Woodson said with a smile. “I knew this would be a great, great tournament to try to win. It’s been a long time – since I was a little kid – looking at those guys win this trophy. But it’s finally here.”

Eklund was tied for the lead at the halfway point of the championship, but played the first three holes of the third round in four over par. He recovered and was seven under over the last 32 holes, including a concluding birdie on Sunday.

“I felt really good with my short game all week. I’ve been working really hard on that – finally it paid off,” said Eklund, who won last month’s Cannon Cup at Spring Creek Golf Club. “[Saturday] was a really good round of just kind of keeping myself in there after such a bad start. [Sunday], I drove the ball in play for the most part, which I think is really important out here. I putted really well for the most part, so I was really happy with getting up and down when I needed to. I’m really excited.”

Pierce, an assistant professional at northern Virginia’s Chantilly National Golf and Country Club, could only watch, along with amateur Jake Mondy (Blacksburg) this summer’s VSGA Amateur champion, as Woodson drained putt after putt.

“He played awesome today,” Pierce said. “Every time he had the putter in his hand, he was burning edges or the ball was going in the hole. Back-to-back 68s on the weekend – what can you say about that?”

The words ‘Let’s do this’ are inscribed on the back of Woodson’s gap wedge – they proved prophetic on Sunday. He is the first professional to win the SunTrust State Open since 2009 when Faber Jamerson of Appomattox triumphed.

A graduate of Powhatan High School and James Madison University, Woodson had his brother, Paul as his caddie, and his father, mother, wife, niece and a healthy contingent from Mill Quarter Plantation Golf Club were in attendance during the final round.

“To have all my family here is great,” Woodson said. “That’s why I do this. It’s a great job, but you do it to enjoy it and celebrate with the people that are that close to you, so this is phenomenal.”

MIDLOTHIAN –– Results following the final round of the 2012 SunTrust State Open of Virginia at Independence Golf Club (7,033 yards, par 36-36—72) on Sunday, July 22.

(a – denotes amateur)

Professional Jay Woodson, 30, of Richmond delivered his second consecutive round of 4-under-par 68 and blew past the field to post a four-stroke win at the SunTrust State Open of Virginia, which concluded Sunday at the 7,033-yard, par 72 Independence Golf Club.

In claiming his first SunTrust State Open title, Woodson finished the championship at 13-under 275. Charlottesville’s Weston Eklund, a 22-year-old rising senior at Radford University closed with 2-under 70 to take home low amateur honors and was runner-up at 9-under 279. Amateur Ji Soo Park, 19, of Centreville, a rising sophomore at the University of Virginia had 71 (7-under 281). Fellow Professional Steven Pierce, 26, of Centreville, with whom Woodson was grouped in the final round, concluded play with 74-282.

Woodson, who plays the developmental NGA Tour, will have his name engraved on the Farmington Trophy and etched his name into history. He became the seventh player to triumph at the VSGA Amateur and the State Open. The others are Keith Decker, Vinny Giles, Chandler Harper, Tom McKnight as well as brothers Bobby and Lanny Wadkins. Woodson won back-to-back VSGA Amateurs in 2002 (Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach) and 2003 (central Virginia’s Kinloch Golf Club in Manakin-Sabot).

He turned professional in the spring of 2004 and has been eyeing a SunTrust State Open triumph ever since. Woodson was a part of the winning team at Monday’s pro-am at the event; now, he’ll have to make room for a larger and much-coveted trophy.

“This is a big win. I won the VSGA Amateur two years in a row and as soon as I won those Amateurs, I wanted a piece of the Open, so this is very special,” said Woodson, who picked up the $7,000 winner’s check as the low professional.

With soft greens and conditions ripe for scoring if competitors drove it in the fairway, Woodson used a deft putting touch to take control of the championship. After starting the day at nine under par, he ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch between Nos. 2 and 5, making a combined 50-plus feet of putts during that deciding span. He holed putts inside 20 feet at Nos. 2 and 4, knocked in a 6-footer at No. 5 before sweeping in a left-to-right breaking 18-footer at No. 6 to get to 12 under and move five strokes ahead of his next-nearest pursuer in Pierce.

Woodson one-putted the first six holes to turn in 3-under 33. He knocked in birdie putts of 7 and 22 feet to start the inward half and used just 13 putts through the first 11 holes to get to 14 under before rolling to his seventh victory as a professional.

For all of his ball-striking prowess, Woodson’s performance on the putting surfaces was a large determiner of the event’s outcome.

“I think you get that rhythm. You get the speed down and everything else becomes a lot easier,” Woodson said. “You can read putts a lot easier and the lines just kind of pop up at you when you have the speed really dialed in. I knew I was putting well. All I was trying to do was hit my lines and get the ball rolling.”

Woodson has won two tournaments in just over a month’s time frame; he captured the NGA Tour’s ComSouth Classic in Hawkinsville, Ga., in June.

“To win a full-field event, a four-day event – any tournament for that matter – to go out and win, outlast some really good players, stick with your game plan and believe in yourself and actually pull it off – that’s huge,” Woodson said.

“Regardless of where it’s at or how many players are in the field, if you can get through a tournament like this, it carries over through the end of the year. And you can always look back – I won the [SunTrust] State Open of Virginia. I was able to outlast my own emotions, my own mental thoughts and get the job done.”

Admittedly, this triumph holds particular significance for Woodson, who says his first exposure to golf at some of the highest levels came from watching his uncle, Mike Moyers (PGA professional at Greene Hills Club in Stanardsville), play in the SunTrust State Open while he was growing up and starting to get acclimated to the game.

“I just thought it was the coolest thing,” Woodson said with a smile. “I knew this would be a great, great tournament to try to win. It’s been a long time – since I was a little kid – looking at those guys win this trophy. But it’s finally here.”

Eklund was tied for the lead at the halfway point of the championship, but played the first three holes of the third round in four over par. He recovered and was seven under over the last 32 holes, including a concluding birdie on Sunday.

“I felt really good with my short game all week. I’ve been working really hard on that – finally it paid off,” said Eklund, who won last month’s Cannon Cup at Spring Creek Golf Club. “[Saturday] was a really good round of just kind of keeping myself in there after such a bad start. [Sunday], I drove the ball in play for the most part, which I think is really important out here. I putted really well for the most part, so I was really happy with getting up and down when I needed to. I’m really excited.”

Pierce, an assistant professional at northern Virginia’s Chantilly National Golf and Country Club, could only watch, along with amateur Jake Mondy (Blacksburg) this summer’s VSGA Amateur champion, as Woodson drained putt after putt.

“He played awesome today,” Pierce said. “Every time he had the putter in his hand, he was burning edges or the ball was going in the hole. Back-to-back 68s on the weekend – what can you say about that?”

The words ‘Let’s do this’ are inscribed on the back of Woodson’s gap wedge – they proved prophetic on Sunday. He is the first professional to win the SunTrust State Open since 2009 when Faber Jamerson of Appomattox triumphed.

A graduate of Powhatan High School and James Madison University, Woodson had his brother, Paul as his caddie, and his father, mother, wife, niece and a healthy contingent from Mill Quarter Plantation Golf Club were in attendance during the final round.

“To have all my family here is great,” Woodson said. “That’s why I do this. It’s a great job, but you do it to enjoy it and celebrate with the people that are that close to you, so this is phenomenal.”

View results for State Open of Virginia Golf Championship

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