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Virginia Public Links: Justin Young prevails
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (Aug. 25, 2013) -- Roanoke’s Justin Young curled in an 8-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th hole, completing a dramatic deciding match as he posted a 1-up win over Jimmy Delp (Arlington) to claim the 10th Virginia State Golf Association Public Links Championship, which concluded today at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Green Course.

Young claimed his first VSGA title and became the 10th different winner in as many years at the Publix, an event open to bona fide public course players. Young played the mini-tours from 2003-06, then stopped playing completely for about five years before being reinstated to amateur status in 2011 and got reconnected to the game. He couldn’t help but take a special measure of satisfaction from the victory.

“I’m ecstatic. It’s always great to get a win, but to get a VSGA win—it’s definitely one of the top wins I’ve had,” said the 35-year-old Young, a member at Ole Monterey Golf Club in Roanoke. “I’m honored to be the Publinx champion.”

The match produced a runner-up in name only. All told, 16 of the 18 holes, including each of the final nine, featured a won-hole by one of the two finalists.

Owner of a 1-up lead after eight holes, Young appeared to seize control of the encounter by winning three straight holes from Nos. 9-11 to build a match-high four holes up lead. He began the stretch with a win at the par-3 ninth and then his putter got hot, knocking in a 15-footer for birdie at the par-4 10th. Young completed the surge by snaking in a hard-breaking right-to-left birdie chance from 15 feet that had at least 5 feet of turn to it at the ensuing hole, the par-3 11th.

“We joked coming off No. 11 that I had him right where I wanted him because he was making everything,” Delp said with a smile afterward.

Turned out those words proved to be at least partially prophetic.

Delp scored four consecutive par wins from Nos. 12-15 to square the match. He took No. 12 by sinking in a 15-footer and following another win one hole later, he knocked in a nerve-rattling four and a half footer at the par-4 14th hole. After Young hooked his 3-wood second shot badly at the par-5 15th, all of the sudden it was a new match.

“In match play, you can get on one of those runs,” Delp said. “That’s what makes match play so much fun. That’s what makes golf so much fun.”

Young had to gather himself after watching a once-sizable lead whittle away.

“Any time you’re playing against one of the top guys in the [commonwealth] like Jimmy, you try to have some cushion,” Young said. “I did feel like he’d have to get on a birdie run to catch me, but things started to go sideways. Momentum can change and it did.”

At the par-3 16th, though, Young steadied himself, drilling a 7-iron to 8 feet for an eventual birdie to seesaw back ahead.

“I thought that was crucial for me considering what happened the previous four holes,” Young said.

Delp ensured the encounter would go to the last by draining a 6-footer to score a par-win at the par-3 17th hole.

At the par-5 18th, Young played a nifty one hop and stop 30-yard gap wedge that came to rest 8 feet above the hole. Delp, meanwhile, was in the far greenside bunker on the left and his shot flew past the flagstick and settled in the fringe 20 feet from the flagstick.

After Delp missed on his birdie chance, Young’s left-to-right clinching putt caught the left lip, the ball spun and hung on the back of the hole before gravity took over and the ball fell in.

“All I could say to Jim was, ‘Sorry, man,’ ” Young said. “I’m glad it went in, but for it to hang there, go around and then basically go in the back—it would’ve been nice for it to just curl in the side or something.”

Delp, who scored a 1-up win over Ryan Nolan (Virginia Beach) in Sunday’s morning’s semifinals to earn a spot in the final, finished second for a third time in his past four starts.

“Second place is getting a little old,” said Delp, 33, a member at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton. “I didn’t get it done, but I still had a good week. Justin is an awesome player. I’m not hanging my head.”

In taking the title, Young claimed four matches, with three of the victories coming against past event champions. On Sunday, he bested two former winners, scoring a 19-hole win over defending champion and stroke-play qualifying medalist Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg) in the round of four, before getting past Delp, the 2009 victor. On Saturday, he bested 2005 winner Jason Copeland of Virginia Beach in the quarterfinals.

“Coming into this, I was playing well and felt like I could be in contention,” Young said. “I very rarely beat myself, if you will. My mentality this week was not to make too many mistakes, make some birdies and maybe win a few holes with some pars based on what my opponent was doing. I played solidly and that’s what you need to do in match play.”

And Young prevailed in the part-endurance test of playing a total of 72 holes in four matches dating back to Saturday morning’s start of match play. Following his victory, a more than three and a half hour drive awaited Young en route back to western Virginia to rejoin his wife, Heather, and 2½-year-old son. But he made the trip with trophy in hand.

“We’ll probably celebrate by having a pizza,” Young said with a laugh.

View results for Virginia (VSGA) Public Links Championship

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