RADFORD, VA (June 30, 2016) -- Joey Lane is still alive in his quest to buck the curse of the medalist.
Only twice since 1970 has a stroke-play medalist won the VSGA Amateur Championship, and both of those players – Billy Hurley III and Lanny Wadkins – have won on the PGA Tour. Lane earned the honors with two days of solid play at the 103rd VSGA Championship, held at his home college track, Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech.
Lane kept it rolling in his two stroke-play matches Thursday, taking out Nick Brediger (Hidden Valley CC) 5 and 4 in his first match and Addison Coll (Washington G&CC) 4 and 2 in the afternoon. Lane (Reston National GC) is part of a youthful contingent that advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals. And the pressure of being medalist didn’t seem to spook him.
“I didn’t start off very well my first two holes, but after that, I felt like I was back to playing well again,” Lane said. “I made a lot of birdies this morning, and I just kind of got right into it.”
Seven of the eight quarterfinalists are 23 years or younger. The group includes two players who have reached the Amateur finals: Ji Soo Park (1757 GC) and Mark Lawrence Jr. (Hermitage CC).
The elder statesman of the field is 38-year-old Justin Young (Ballyhack GC), the 2015 VSGA Player of the Year who won two matches at last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. The youngest player remaining is 15-year-old Drew Brockwell (CC at the Highlands), who defeated fellow juniors Rob Witherspoon (Meadowbrook CC) and Connor Johnson Jr. (CC of Virginia) on his way to the quarterfinals.
“It just shows you the talent,” said Young, who won a pair of matches 3 and 2, defeating Logan Yates (Greene Hills Club) and Lee Fisher (Poplar Grove GC). “They’re bred so much younger than I was growing up. When they’re 15, they’re ready to compete on a state level. Heck, I’d have been shaking in my boots at 15 trying to play in the State Am.”
Lawrence, who turns 20 in November, found himself in a strange position in his matches against youngsters Connor Burgess (Boonsboro CC) and Charlie Musto (Trump National GC).
“It’s actually really weird,” he said. “I’ve played two straight matches against players younger than me. I don’t think I’ve ever played against anyone younger than me in this tournament.”
Lawrence, who lost to Maclain Huge in last year’s championship match at Farmington CC, had to rally to beat Burgess in his first match. Burgess led 2 up through 12 holes, but Lawrence clawed his way back and eventually won in 21 holes. He had an easier time with Musto in the round of 16, winning 5 and 3.
“I don’t think anyone wants to start off playing 21 holes, but Connor’s a great player, and we had a great time,” Lawrence said. “It definitely gave me some momentum going into this afternoon. I felt pretty confident.”
Lawrence will match up against Brockwell, who had to face his good friend and high-school teammate Johnson in the round of 16.
“I mean, it hurt a little bit,” Brockwell said. “We’re good friends. We play all the time. It’s tough to go up against him. You don’t want to win. You don’t want to lose. You just do the best you can and see what happens.”
Lane, who defeated one Radford player Thursday (Brediger), will face another on Friday in Hayden, who recently graduated from RU and has plans on turning pro after trying to qualify for the U.S. Amateur later this summer. Hayden defeated Tyler Wallace (The Club at Kingsmill) 2 up in the round of 32 and defeated Vincent Nadeau (Spring Creek GC) 4 and 3 in the round of 16.
“Winning this tournament would probably be the biggest moment of my career,” Hayden said.
Young will meet No. 2 seed Trey Wren (Cedar Point CC) in the quarterfinals. Wren, a 20 year old who plays at Temple University, made quick work of his round-of-32 opponent, beating Buck Brittain (The Virginian GC) 8 and 7. He kept it rolling in the round of 16, beating Ryan Patrick (Hidden Creek GC) 3 and 2.
The last quarterfinal match features Park against Ben Ramsey (Fincastle on the Mountain). Park is a two-time finalist who last reached the championship match in 2013, when he lost to four-time champion Brinson Paolini at The Homestead. Park also made it to the final in 2011 at The Virginian, where he lost to Scott Shingler (Evergreen CC). Shingler, the only past champion to reach match play, lost to Musto in the round of 32 Thursday.
Park defeated Ryan Muthiora (Spring Creek GC) 2 up in the round of 32 and took out Kyle Bailey (Roanoke CC) 2 and 1 in the round of 16. Bailey was part of the winning side at the 51st VSGA Four-Ball Championship in May.
Ramsey eased his way past Connor Messick (International CC) 5 and 4 in the morning and defeated Parker See (The Club at Ironwood) 2 up in the round of 16.
View results for Virginia Amateur Golf Championship