Behbahani leads by two at Virginia Mid-Amateur
LEESBURG, Va. (Sept. 12, 2014) — Making his debut appearance in the event, local golfer Mark Behbahani (South Riding) shot 2-under-par 70 and is atop a crowded leaderboard following the first day of the 38th Virginia State Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship at The Golf Club at Lansdowne. First day action was conducted at Lansdowne’s Norman Course.

Behbahani was the only competitor to post a subpar round on a day when prevailing winds added to the demand of shot selection. He is two strokes ahead of defending champion Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg) and Scott Shingler (Haymarket), the 2010 VSGA Mid-Amateur winner, who each opened with even-par 72.

Three others are at 1-over 73—record seven-time winner Keith Decker (Martinsville), Jim Nirich (Catlett) and Tom Adrounie (Fairfax Station). Roanoke’s Justin Young and Ryan Patrick (Reston) each returned 2-over 74. The three-round event is open to golfers ages 25 and older.

Behbahani, 36, played consistently in delivering the low competitive round of his career. He hit nearly every green in regulation and got into red numbers with back-to-back birdies to start the second nine, draining a 15-footer at No. 10 before knocking in a 4-footer at the ensuing hole.

“Everything felt really great today. I had a lot of good looks for birdies,” said Behbahani, a professional club fitter. “This is one of the better ball striking rounds I’ve had in a while. It felt pretty solid and I hope that I can keep it going. I’m definitely looking forward to the next couple of days. It’s going to be fun.”

Shingler started his round with two consecutive birdies and despite a bogey at No. 5, he answered with two more birdies at Nos. 7 and 9 to turn in three under. But he would go no lower, playing a six-hole stretch from Nos. 10-15 in four over par. Shingler made birdie at the last, knocking in a 6-footer, to take some of the sting out of a second nine malaise.

“I started out well and hit some solid iron shots on the front nine and then on the back nine, I hit a few poor iron shots to give it all right back,” Shingler said with a laugh. “I worked hard on the front nine and wasn’t happy to give the shots back, but ended on a good note. The key is to hit some good solid short iron shots, give yourself some looks and hopefully bury some putts.”

Hurst performed solidly on a day when scoring was difficult, registering back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 en route to shooting one under on the second nine. He didn’t play a practice round, saw the course for the first time during the opening round and stayed away from the trouble ready to gobble up errant shots.

“I never played here before. I think it was a good thing, so I didn’t know where any of the trouble was,” Hurst said with a laugh. “I didn’t putt particularly well, but hit a lot of fairways and greens.”

The second round on Saturday will be conducted at Lansdowne’s RTJ Course, a layout Hurst has never played.

“I figured if I was going to play one blind, I may as well play two of them blind,” Hurst said.

Following the second day, the field will be cut to the low 45 players and ties for Sunday’s final round. After the first round, there are 50 competitors at 11-over 83 or better. Sunday’s final round will take place at the Norman Course.

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