LANSDOWNE, Va. (Sept. 13, 2014) — Defending champion Jon Hurst of Fredericksburg shot a scintillating 7-under-par 65 and owns a six-stroke lead entering Sunday’s final round of the 38th Virginia State Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship being conducted at The Golf Club at Lansdowne. Second day action was conducted at Lansdowne’s RTJ Course.
With the low round of this year’s event, Hurst owns a 7-under 137 aggregate (72-65). Record seven-time event champion Keith Decker (Martinsville) returned 2-under 70 and is the next-nearest pursuer (1-under 143). Locals Ryan Patrick of Reston (72) and past champion Scott Shingler of Haymarket (74) are at 2-over 146.
The day belonged to the 45-year-old Hurst who played his final 14 holes on seven under par and was bogey-free in that stretch. Beginning his round on No. 10 in the two-tee start format, he rattled off three straight birdies at Nos. 14-16. He rolled in a 15-footer to start the surge, knocked in a 4-footer at the ensuing hole and holed a 20-footer at the par-5 16th hole. He drained another birdie putt, this time from 25 feet at No. 18 to turn in four under par.
Hurst had strong close to his round, making a 15-footer for birdie at No. 7, his 16th hole of the day. One hole later he drilled a 2-hybrid club from 237 yards that settled 4 feet from the flagstick for an eventual eagle-3. Talk about efficiency—Hurst missed only one fairway, hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and estimated he used 27 putts.
Altogether, he accounted for six birdies and an eagle against one bogey.
“I don’t know what happened today. It was one of those days where everything went right. I’d like to teach myself how to do that more often,” Hurst said with a laugh.
In winning last year’s event at The Foundry in central Virginia, Hurst owned a three-stroke lead after the second round and won by two shots. He knows to keep his foot on the accelerator and play consistently during Sunday’s final day, which will be conducted on the trouble-laden Norman Course.
“I’m just going to try play like I don’t have the lead at all and play like I have the past two days.” Hurst said. “I think the key is to hit my driver pretty straight (at the Norman Course). If you can get your tee ball in play, I think you’ve won most of the battle because it’s not a super long golf course.”
Hurst hadn’t played either of the host layouts before arriving at the championship, but some unfamiliarity obviously hasn’t bothered him. In fact, Hurst believes flying a bit blind has perhaps worked to his advantage
“Oddly enough, I usually play courses that I’ve never seen before better for some reason,” Hurst said. “I tend to pick a spot in the middle of the fairway more often when I don’t know what’s out there and try to hit to that. I don’t know—maybe I don’t focus as much.”
Decker, 54, birdied the final three holes to own second place. Starting on the second nine, he ended his round by making 12 footers at Nos. 7 and 9, his 16th and final hole of the day, and sandwiched in a 6-footer for birdie at No. 8, his 17th hole. But everyone is in catch-up mode come the final round.
“(Hurst) is lapping the field,” Decker said. “I did not see a 65 out there today. I shot two under (par) and he picked up five shots on me. We’re going to need something special on Sunday and some help from him to keep it competitive.”
Following Saturday’s second day, the field was cut to the low 45 competitors and ties with 51 competitors at 20-over 164 or better advancing to Sunday’s final round.
View results for Virginia Mid-Amateur Golf Championship