7-time VSGA Golfer of the Year Keith Decker
Photo courtesy of VSGA
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Tournament medalist Addison Coll (Washington Golf & Country Club, Arlington) won two matches Wednesday and joined seven other competitors in the quarterfinals of the 102nd Virginia State Golf Association Amateur Championship at Farmington Country Club.
The 19-year-old Coll, a member of the Ohio State University golf team, is a first-time quarterfinalist in the VSGA Amateur as is his opponent, Dylan Jensen, 22 (Chatmoss CC, Martinsville) ; Maclain Huge, 21 (Loudoun G&CC, Lovettsville); and Trey Smith, 22 (Signature at West Neck, Virginia Beach).
Also advancing were Adam Ball, 21 (Meadowbrook CC, Richmond); Scott Shingler, 43 (Evergreen CC, Haymarket); Keith Decker, 55 (Chatmoss CC, Martinsville); and Mark Lawrence Jr., 18 (Hermitage CC, Richmond). All have been quarterfinalists in the past.
Decker, the oldest player left in the field and winner of more VSGA titles than anyone, won the VSGA Amateur in 1988 and 1991. Shingler was the 2011 VSGA Amateur champion. Ball, a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University golf team, won two VSGA Junior Stroke Play championships and two VSGA Junior Match Play titles. He won the Atlantic 10 Conference individual title in May and captured the national level Monroe Invitational in June. Lawrence won the VSGA Junior Match Play Championship for the third year in a row last week.
Here’s a look at each of the Thursday quarterfinals and how the players got there.
COLL VS. JENSEN: Coll defeated Brandon Yoon 4 and 3 in Tuesday morning’s first round and eliminated Philip Mahone, a Farmington member who earned his place in the tournament through a club qualifier, 2 up.
Coll called both his victories “very ugly, grind it out golf for sure. Definitely nowhere near the game I had in the stroke play portion, but my short game picked me up a lot. I was able to have a lot of key up and downs that saved me…just a lot of 5-footers that kept me in the match.
“That was a tough match (Mahone) mentally,” Coll said. “It just gets tougher and tougher. I know I’m going to have to step up my ball striking. I feel confident about tomorrow. I think I can get it done.”
Jensen, who graduated from Longwood University last year, won the VSGA Junior Match Play title in 2010. He eliminated Corey Gallagher 6 and 5 in the morning then rallied from 3-down in the afternoon to beat Jon Hurst with a birdie on the 19th hole.
A chip and putt birdie at the driveable par-4 13th hole after Hurst had driven the green “was big for me,” Jensen said. “I knew he was going to make birdie and I was able to hang in there, and I made a couple of long [putts] coming in that really helped.”
BALL VS. HUGE: Ball was last year’s medalist but lost in the round of 16. He birdied three of the first four holes Wednesday, added a fourth birdie on the front nine at No. 8 then weathered a rally from last year’s tournament runner-up Jordan Utley to win 2 and 1 in the morning. Ball made no mistakes in the afternoon against Austin Gray and won 7 and 6.
“I waHuges confident going into today. I’ve been hitting the ball well. I was close in the stroke-play rounds, I just wasn’t getting the ball in the hole fast enough,” Ball said. “This is a tournament I’ve wanted to win. It’s why I keep coming back. This will be my last one. I want to get my name on that trophy. I have a good feeling going forward.”
Huge, who defeated Tyler Gulliksen 1-up and Matthew DiSalvo 3 and 2, said he will “just go out and play my game. That’s about it.”
This is the second time Huge, a senior at Virginia Tech, has played in the VSGA Amateur. He can pound the ball and only hit driver three times in each match Wednesday. He also putted well in both matches.
SHINGLER VS. DECKER: The two players have combined to be named VSGA Golfer of the Year 10 times, seven for Decker.
Shingler slipped by Jimmy Delp 1-up in the morning and sent Justin Young home 3 and 2 in the afternoon. Decker eliminated Zack Lauzon 5 and 4 and had to sink a 7-foot, left to right slider on the last hole to oust Nick Tremps 1-up.
Shingler and Decker have met twice and each owns a victory.
“I owe Scott one as a matter of fact. We are one and one, but he got the last one,” Decker said. “Scott’s the best player in Virginia right now. I look forward to trying to get him.”
Said Shingler, “Everybody knows Keith. You’re not going to get anything from him. You’re going to have to play your tail off to beat him.”
Shingler was steady in both matches.
“I didn’t make too many mistakes. I didn’t make a whole lot of birdies, but I kept the ball in play, hit a bunch of fairways and greens. I made a lot of 5-footers to keep me in the matches,” he said. “Both matches were tough. They’re both my friends. It’s too bad we had to face each other early on. That’s the way it goes. I know I’ll need to make more putts tomorrow.”Decker
Decker was the victor in the 2013 VSGA Senior Amateur Championship at Farmington. He’s also won the Kenridge Invitational, the club’s premier event, several times.
“This is my favorite place to come. I have a lot of good memories here,” said Decker, who was 3-up through 13 holes but lost the next two to Tremps.
Of the 7-footer to win the match, he said: “The guys earlier in the day talked about how hard it was to stop it, and they were putting it off the green and that’s what I had in my mind before I putted that first putt. Yeah, I took care of that, but it all worked out.”
LAWRENCE VS. SMITH: Lawrence is chasing a title his father, Mark, won in 1980. His grandfather, Walter, was runner-up in 1958. Lawrence Jr. defeated Vincent Nadeau 3 and 1 and Zack Henry 2 and 1.
“I played solidly all day today, and I’m excited to be back in the quarterfinals. I hope I can get farther this year,” Lawrence said.
Knowing or not knowing his opponent doesn’t matter to Lawrence.
“You still have to play better golf than him. To me when I get into a match-play event if we’re friends, we’re friends. If I don’t know them, I don’t know them. It’s still the same idea, go out there and play the best I can and see what I can do,” he said.Lawrence
Smith made it to match play for the first time this week, and it took a brilliant pitch shot on the final hole to secure his place in the quarterfinals with a 1-up victory over Ryan Rettberg.
“Don’t ask me to do it again,” was Smith’s description of the high-flying pitch from below the elevated green that slopes sharply from right to left. The 30-yard shot finished 2 feet from the cup. “It was probably a one in ten shot to hit it that close. I got lucky,” he said and laughed. “I played great today. He played great. It was a heck of a match.”Smith
Smith, who just graduated from James Madison University, eliminated Ryan Douglass in the morning 2 and 1.
“I feel like at this point, it’s anyone’s game,” Smith said. “It’s match play so I don’t have to beat 125 people. I just have to beat one.”
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