BRISTOL, Virg. (May 10, 2014) –– The team of Brandon LaCroix (Roanoke) and Matt Chandler (Hardy) made par on the first extra hole, the par-4 first, to outlast Williamsburg residents Dave Pulk and Nathan Dean and claim the 49th Virginia State Golf Association Four-Ball Championship, which concluded today at The Virginian Golf Club.
Both tandems completed the 36-hole competition at 15-under-par 127. LaCroix-Chandler delivered a final-round 4-under 66. Pulk-Dean wiped out a five-stroke closing day deficit by returning 10-under 61—equaling LaCroix-Chandler’s first round championship-best aggregate.
Lynchburg’s Lee Fisher and Barry Wirt Jr. (Roanoke) as well as Scott Shingler (Haymarket)-Justin Young (Roanoke) each returned final day scores of 5-under 66 to finish three off the pace (12-under 130).
LaCroix-Chandler played steadily throughout the two days, going without a bogey. Nowhere was their consistent play needed more than at the deciding first extra hole where both found the fairway with their tee shot before finding the putting surface with their second shots. Both approaches came to rest inside 20 feet from the hole.
For all of their brilliance on the day that included nine birdies and an eagle against on bogey, Pulk and Dean both missed the green to the right on their second shots in the playoff. Thereafter, both were in scramble mode in hopes of salvaging par. Facing a thick lie, Dean’s chip shot scooted 40 feet past the hole, while Pulk’s third shot from a tough spot came up just short of the green.
After both LaCroix and Chandler converted fairly straightforward two-putt pars, Pulk missed on his chip shot that would’ve kept things going.
LaCroix and Chandler put golf’s version of blinders on during the championship, electing to focus solely on their own games, rather than concerning themselves with what the rest of the field was doing. The strategy paid off. After making two birdies at Nos. 7-8 to turn in two under, they registered three birdies in four holes at Nos. 11, 12 and 14. Chandler knocked in a slippery left-to-right breaking 10-footer to start the stretch, then played a wedge shot to tap-in range at the next hole before LaCroix ripped his 3-wood second shot at the par-5 14th hole to 20 feet to ultimately account for a two-putt birdie.
The two friends complemented one another well throughout the event and were never really in danger of making a bogey, even during some intermittent precipitation in the final round that made scoring and shotmaking more demanding.
“We’ve always been a good team together,” Chandler said. “Even when it was raining and the course was playing longer, it was nice to hang in there.”
The two VSGA members at Hunting Hills Country Club in Roanoke know each other’s games well and it showed in posting a wire-to-wire win some late last day dramatics.
“We’re just comfortable and relaxed around each other,” said LaCroix, who claimed his second Four-Ball title. He won in 2011 with Staunton’s Nick Biesecker at Creighton Farms, a club in northern Virginia. “We teamed well and have the same mindset. We got an equal contribution.”
Pulk and Dean were playing two groupings ahead of LaCroix-Chandler and made the move of the day. Stoked by Dean’s wedge hole-out from 125 yards for an eagle-3 at the par-5 third hole, they played Nos. 2-4 in four under par and logged 5-under 30 on the outward half.
“It was a really good day,” said Pulk, who, along with Dean, is a VSGA member at Two Rivers Country Club in Williamsburg “We got off to a good start and that put is right back in the tournament.
“We can’t be unhappy that we shot 10 under in some difficult conditions.”
In doing so, the partners, separated by more than 20 years in age—Pulk is 57 and Dean is 36—saved some of their best play for the late stages of regulation, birdieing four of the final five holes to help force extra holes. Dean got things going with a two-putt birdie at the par-4 14th and knocked in a 30-footer one hole later. Pulk then continued the surge by holing a 15-footer at No. 17 before Dean converted a demanding two-putt for birdie from above the hole.
“We played the best round we could’ve played—it was a really good round for us,” Dean said. “You have to take the good with the bad. Those guys (LaCroix and Chandler) played two really good rounds as well.”
View results for Virginia Four-Ball Golf Championship