By Arthur Utley
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virg. (Aug. 26, 2013) –– Two-time champion Vinny Giles of Richmond bested his age by two strokes and claimed the lead after the first of two rounds of on-site qualifying in the 66th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship at Farmington Country Club.
Giles, 70, toured the hilly 6,297-yard course that features demanding greens in 2-under-par 68 Monday for a one shot lead over another past champion, David Partridge of Manakin, and Col. James Gallagher (Ret.) of Yorktown.
They were the only three from the field of 82 players 50 years of age and older to break par on the venerable layout. The match play field of 32 will be determined following Tuesday’s second round of qualifying.
Northern Virginians Larry Spielberg of Gainesville, Ken Hanson of Bristow and Buddy Patch of Fairfax Station returned even-par 70. Spielberg and Hanson, who were in the same grouping, have played against each other since junior golf days.
Dave Pulk of Williamsburg and Bill Apple of Lansdowne trail by three after posting 1-over 71. Five players are at 72.
Giles logged six birdies and made the turn after starting on the first hole in 4-under 31. The birdies came at Nos. 4, 7, 8 and 9. The longest putt was from 12 feet. He added birdies at 12 and 16 but had four bogeys, including two three-putts on the inward nine.
“All in all I hit the ball solidly and putted better than usual,” Giles said. “I don’t ever shoot under par on this golf course. I made bogeys on the two easiest holes on the golf course, but I made six birdies and I haven’t made six birdies on this golf course maybe ever.”
His score has given Giles a cushion he hasn’t always had after the opening round of qualifying.
“I don’t know what it will take to qualify, but if you shoot the score like I shot, you can make some mistakes,” he said. “The first round to me is critical. Usually in the Senior Amateur I’m like 76 the first round and now I’ve got to shoot 72 to qualify.”
Giles says he can’t get too comfortable because “I’ve got several games I can bring out.”
Partridge, the VSGA Senior Amateur champion in 2011, has a world of experience at Farmington. He is a University of Virginia graduate and a five-time winner of the Kenridge Invitational, an event Giles won twice.
This is the first time Farmington has been the venue for the VSGA Senior Amateur.
“It’s a great course for medal play and for match play,” Partridge said. “Farmington is one of my favorite golf courses in all of the world. It’s a very special place.”
Partridge said he played a solid round of golf.
“I think it is all about fairways and greens when you’re trying to qualify, particularly on a golf course like this,” he said. “While it’s not terribly long, at the same time the greens are the real defense. If I could have putted a little bit better … I misread a few putts today which is unusual as many times as I’ve played here. I really wanted to get a good one under my belt.”
A double-bogey at his final hole (No. 18) kept Gallagher, who won the VSGA Senior Four-Ball with Jim Nirich earlier this year, from the overnight lead.
Gallagher also collected six birdies Monday. Among the birdies was a 3-footer on the 225-yard 10th hole.
Gallagher first played Farmington as a 9-year-old. He was a member at The Keswick Club and was competing in a junior match. He didn’t play it again until Sunday, 46 years later.
“The golf course is so new [to me] that I’m just trying to keep it at par—to negotiate it the best I can,” he said.
Following Tuesday’s second round of stroke play qualifying, 32 players will advance to the match play portion of the championship; 33 competitors shot a score of 5-over 75 or better in the first round.
The first and second rounds of match play are set for Wednesday, Aug. 28, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals on Thursday, Aug. 29 and the scheduled 18-hole championship final on Friday, Aug. 30.
View results for Virginia Senior Amateur Golf Championship