RADFORD, Virginia (July 2, 2016) — Where does Joey Lane’s win at the 103rd VSGA Amateur Championship, played this week at Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech, rank in championship history?
Well, for starters, his 8 and 6 win over Ji Soo Park in Saturday’s 36-hole final was the largest margin of victory in the championship in a decade. And then there’s the company that Lane’s win puts him in. Lane was the medalist after two days of stroke-play qualifying, though that honor hasn’t often led to match-play success.
The last three players prior to Saturday to be medalist and win the championship: Vinny Giles, Lanny Wadkins and Billy Hurley III. Wadkins and Hurley have won PGA Tour events. Giles and Wadkins are in the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame. And now Lane’s name is on that distinguished list.
“That’s pretty special,” a beaming Lane said after Saturday’s title match. “I think it’s more coincidence than anything. It’s just kind of a cherry on top for this week.”
Lane (Reston National GC) shouldn’t sell himself short. His performance on Saturday was, well, pretty special.
The rising Virginia Tech senior, playing in front of a gallery full of maroon and orange, got off to a blazing start in the morning. He made four birdies and one bogey on the front nine and had gotten to 7 under for his round after making birdie on the par-5 16th hole.
“I was looking at Ji Soo’s match Friday, and I think he won six holes in a row,” Lane said. “I was trying to be ruthless, because I know how good he is, and I know he can make so many birdies in a row.”
At that point, Lane had surged to a 7-up lead on Park (1757 GC), who was making his third appearance in the VSGA Amateur title match. Park didn’t win a hole until Lane bogeyed the par-3 17th in the morning.
“I mean, I played [four-time champion] Brinson Paolini and played Scott Shingler, and I was never seven down,” said Park, a former University of Virginia standout. “He played some of the best golf I had ever seen. I had to be ready out there, but I was kind of asleep in the morning.”
After Park won 17 with a bogey, Lane came back to win 18 to take a 7-up lead into the 90-minute lunch break. Park seemed to find something that worked after the intermission. He hit it close and made birdie on No. 1, and he bombed home a bendy 36-foot putt for birdie on No. 2. His approach on No. 3 left him in great position to make another birdie, which could have cut Lane’s lead to 4 up.
But Lane, who made seemingly hundreds of feet worth of clutch putts over the course of the week, nailed another one, draining a 60 footer from the fringe for eagle to push his lead back to 6 up.
“It was huge, because he came out really solid in the second round,” Lane said. “To steal one there, and go 6 up … I mean, once it got down to 4 or 5, that was a little closer than I wanted it to be.”
Said Park: “I was ready to get another one, and he just drained on me for eagle. That just kind of stopped me right there. That hole, if we tie or if I would have won again, I might have had a good chance to come back, but he just drained on me.”
Lane clinched the match on No. 12 after hitting a tremendous approach on the par-5 hole within six feet of the hole for a two-putt birdie.
Lane became the second straight Virginia Tech golfer to claim the Schwarzschild Brothers Trophy, given annually to the VSGA Amateur Champion. Maclain Huge won the title last year, and there’s plenty of talent in the pipeline to keep the streak going in the future, Lane said.
“We’ve got the guys to do it,” Lane said. “Obviously, Mark [Lawrence Jr.] is always going to be there. Drew [Brockwell, who has committed to Tech] is only 15. So yeah, we could definitely tack on a couple of more, hopefully.”
The championship was a capper to a special stretch of golf for Lane. He qualified for the NCAA Franklin Regional as an individual last season. He made it to sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open. He’ll play in the Eastern Amateur next weekend before setting his sights on qualifying for the U.S. Amateur later in July.
But it’ll be tough to cap a sensational week on his home college course.
“Today was probably some of the best golf that I’ve played,” Lane said. “It was nice. It was the biggest match of the week and I had my best day. It’s nice in the final match to play my best.”
Chris Lang is the Editor of Virginia Golfer Magazine and Manager, Digital Media for the VSGA.
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