HOT SPRINGS, VA (August 22, 2016) -- Under par scores on the venerable Cascades Course at The Homestead Omni Resort were hard to come by on the first day of stroke-play qualifying at the 69th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship.
Tim Vigotsky (Farmington CC, Centreville) and Chris Clemens (Roanoke CC, Salem) posted the only scores in red figures, 1-under-par 69, on Monday to share the overnight lead.
They are one stroke clear of Buddy Patch (Springfield G&CC, Fairfax Station), who shot 70, and two ahead of Rich Buckner (Robert Trent Jones GC, Clifton), who returned 71.
Four players are at 2-over 72: Pete DeTemple (Old Hickory GC, California, Md.); two-time Senior Amateur champion Keith Decker (Chatmoss CC, Martinsville); Jon Zampedro (Centreville, Pleasant Valley GC) and Steve Castro (Herndon Centennial GC, Chantilly).
Tuesday’s second round of stroke-play qualifying will determine the 32 players who advance to the match-play portion of the tournament that begins Wednesday with two matches. Thirty players are at 7-over-par or better after Monday’s round. Another eight players are at 8-over.
Defending champion David Partridge (Hermitage CC, Manakin-Sabot) was among the group at 75.
Clemens, 51, is playing in his first Senior Amateur. He forgot to sign up for the tournament when he became eligible a year ago and would have forgotten again this year, but he was told he had an exemption because he qualified for this year’s VSGA Amateur.
Clemens was following his game plan of avoiding big mistakes and was 2-over when he struck the shot of the day on the picturesque par-5 16th with its water-guarded green. He holed a 190-yard 5-iron for a rare double eagle.
“I hit a good tee shot, and I was right there where if you don’t go for it, I think the guys in my group would have made fun of me,” Clemens said. “When I hit it, I was pretty certain it was going to get over the water…It bounced about a foot and a half or 2 feet short of the hole and then popped right in. Everybody was really excited. I’ve never had one, and I’ll never have one again. It was a solid shot, but it was lucky.”
Clemens says hitting smart shots will be the key to qualifying for match play.
“You can make a big number on any hole out here. It’s such a great course,” he said.
Vigotsky’s history at The Cascades goes back to the mid-1970s when he won the annual State Intercollegiate while playing for George Mason University. Now 62, Vigotsky was runner-up to Partridge in 2011 when the Senior Amateur was last held at The Homestead.
“I have fondness for this place. It doesn’t always mean you are going to play well, but it holds a special place in my heart. It usually means you’ll play well, but I don’t want to go too far because I might lay an egg tomorrow so I’ve got to be a little careful what I say,” a laughing Vigotsky said.
Starting on the back nine, steady play was the hallmark of his round. He collected birdies on the back-to-back par-5s, Nos. 16 and 17, and was looking at a bogey-free round before three-putting the par-4 ninth.
“I made kind of the rookie mistake of thinking I’m not sure I’ve ever gone through The Cascades without a bogey. I knocked it in there about 20 feet and sure enough three-putted,” Vigotsky said. “It was so close to being a clean card. I just kind of choked it with bad thoughts. It was a steady as I can do it.”
Like Clemens and all the other players in contention for the match-play berths, Vigotsky will aim to keep things under control on Tuesday.
“I don’t need to take any chances. Just play a good solid game again. That’s what I’ll be trying to do,” he said.
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