POWHATAN –– Stoked by a strong closing nine, Fredericksburg’s Jon Hurst shot a final-round 1-under-par 71 to post a two-stroke victory as the 37th Virginia State Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship concluded today at The Foundry Golf Club.
The only competitor in the field to register three under par rounds, Hurst finished with a 7-under 209 aggregate (70-68-71). Charlottesville-area golfer Vincent Nadeau (Gordonsville) returned a final-round best 3-under 69 to place second (5-under 211). Local Jordan Utley of Richmond had 2-under 70 on the last day and finished four back at 3-under 213. Northern Virginian Scott Shingler (Haymarket), the 2010 event champion, logged 71 and was one of four competitors to finish in red numbers at 2-under 214. The championship is open to golfers 25 and older.
insidedIMG_3576Hurst posted three wins in various events throughout the commonwealth over the past few months, but he admittedly claimed the most significant victory of his VSGA career with his Mid-Amateur triumph.
“The older you get, the more nervous you get. It always feels good to win—no matter what you win, because you come up short more than you win in golf,” said Hurst, 44. “It feels great. I hit the ball really well the last three days.”
Hurst began the final round with a three-stroke lead, but that advantage dwindled to a single stroke at the turn over the 27-year-old Utley, who shot 3-under 33 on the outward half.
Hurst started to steady himself with a birdie at the par-5 10th to get to six under for the event, but Nadeau, playing in the same grouping with Hurst, made consecutive birdies at Nos. 10 and 11, knocking in putts of 10 and 12 feet, respectively, to move to five under and within a shot of the lead.
At the demanding par-4 12th, Hurst, short of the putting surface, faced an awkward chip and sent the shot 10 feet past the hole. On the tough, downhill putt, he showed a great touch in sinking the par chance to retain his one-stroke lead over Nadeau.
“That was huge. That was a very big putt—and that wasn’t the easiest of putts,” Hurst said “I was not trying to hit the ball past the hole. That might’ve been the turning point for me. That putt kind of felt like a birdie and maybe got me a little more motivated.”
It showed as Hurst regained his trademark steady play returned and he didn’t miss a fairway or a green the rest of the way. Nadeau flew his third shot over the green at the par-4 13th, but played a terrific flop shot off hardpan to tap-in range. The bogey, though, dropped him two shots back of Hurst.
At the par-5 16th, Hurst played probably his best shot of the day. Facing a downhill lie, Hurst drilled his 3-wood second shot and the ball curved on an ideal left to right flight to a tough front right hole location, clearing a guarding left greenside bunker before the ball settled 12 feet left of the hole.
“That set up well for me. I hit that club well taking a little off and cutting it into holes. I actually hit it better when I hit soft rather than hard,” Hurst said. “It felt good. I knew I could cut it off that lie and I knew it was the right distance. All I had to do was hit the shot.”
Nadeau kept the pressure on, though, playing a crisp long bunker shot to 6 feet above the hole before calmly making the ensuing birdie putt. After Hurst’s eagle chance raced 4 feet, he drained the uphill comebacker for birdie to keep his lead at two strokes
“His putt made mine a little longer,” said Hurst, who owned the advantage the rest of the way.
Both players had chances at birdies on the second nine. Hurst crumpled to the ground, barely able to watch as his 12-footer for birdie at No. 14 nearly fell in. For his part, Nadeau’s 45-foot birdie chance at the par-4 15th hit the top lip of the hole and somehow stayed out. Later, his birdie chance at the par-3 17th narrowly missed on the low side.
“I had a number in mind—it was a 67 and that would’ve tied me (with Hurst),” said Nadeau, who was making his debut appearance in the event after turning 25 in March. “I tried not to play Jon too much because that can get you in trouble. I played solidly the whole way around. Jon just played better.”
After Utley closed to within one of Hurst after nine holes, the central Virginian shot one over par on the inward half.
Known for his precise placement of shots, Hurst was rewarded on a course that demands accuracy. Hurst also negotiated the layout’s slick and undulating putting surfaces.
“I didn’t put myself in position to have a lot of makeable putts today, but I rolled the ball really well,” Hurst said. “I made a lot of good lag putts today, so that kept me in it.”
Fellow-competitors know Hurst as one of the top players in the commonwealth. He won last year’s VSGA Public Links title and it seemed only a matter of time before he picked up his first VSGA ‘major’ (regarded as a victory in the VSGA Four-Ball, VSGA Amateur, the State Open of Virginia or the Mid-Amateur).
“This is a pretty strong field—one of the stronger ones of the year. It’s good to beat these guys—once,” Hurst said with a smile. “I had a lot of fun today. I come out here to have fun, so if I don’t, I haven’t done what I wanted to do.”
Players have taken note of Hurst’s stellar play, especially this season. His victory moved him to third among points’ leaders in the VSGA player rankings.
“He’s the hottest player in the state right now,” said Keith Decker, a record seven-time winner of the VSGA Mid-Amateur.
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