HOT SPRINGS, VA (August 23, 2016) -- Two-time champion Keith Decker (Chatmoss Country Club, Martinsville) scorched the venerable Cascades Course at The Homestead Omni Resort with a 5-under-par 65 on Tuesday and captured medalist honors after 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying at the 69th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship.
The 56-year-old Decker finished the qualifying portion of the tournament with a 3-under total of 137 after opening with 2-over 72 and claimed the medal for the third year in a row. He was the only player to shoot under par on Tuesday.
The 36 holes of qualifying determined the 32 players who advanced to match play that begins Wednesday with two matches.
Jon Zampedro (Pleasant Valley GC, Centreville) shot 72-71-143 to finish six strokes behind Decker and gain the No. 2 seed. Zampedro is No. 5 on the VSGA Senior player rankings.
Buddy Patch (Springfield G&CC, Fairfax Station) and overnight co-leader Tim Vigotsky (Farmington CC, Centreville) concluded qualifying with 4-over 144 totals and are the third and fourth seeds.
Vigotsky, the runner-up in 2011 when the tournament was last held at The Homestead, shot 75 on Tuesday after opening with 1-under 69. Patch added 74 to his first-round 70.
Dave Pulk (Two Rivers CC, Williamsburg) and Chris Clemens (Roanoke CC, Salem), who shared the first-round lead with Vigotsky thanks to a double eagle on the par-5 16th hole, were at 145 and received the fifth and sixth seeds respectively. Pulk was a quarterfinalist last year. Clemens is playing in his first Senior Amateur.
A blind draw determined seeds for those players who finished with the same 36-hole aggregate.
David Brogan (Lexington G&CC, Lexington) and Michael McGowan (Reston National, Bethesda, Md.) played their way into the last two match-play spots by winning a playoff with six others who finished qualifying with 154 totals.
McGowan will be Decker’s first-round opponent; Brogan meets Zampedro.
In addition to Decker, the three other past champions in the field – defending and two-time champion David Partridge (Hermitage CC, Manakin), two-time winner Vinny Giles (Kinloch GC, Richmond) and Charles Green III (The Virginian GC, Tazewell) – advanced to match play. All four have won titles at The Homestead. Green is the reigning Super Senior Stroke Play champion. Giles, 73, is the most senior player left in the field.
Also gaining match-play berths were Jim Gallagher (Tidewater Amateur Golf Tour, Yorktown) and Mike Caprio (Reston National, Arlington), the players who were runner-up to Decker in 2013 and 2014, and reigning Senior Stroke Play champ Mike Krulich (Ballyhack GC, Blacksburg).
Gallagher, the eighth seed, meets 25th seed Partridge in a first-round rematch of last year’s semifinal when Partridge won on the 20th hole.
Only Giles, who won six of his seven VSGA Amateur titles at the Cascades, might know the William Flynn layout better than Decker.
“I guess I’ve probably played it a couple of hundred times. You know the greens a little bit better, you know the bounces a little bit better, you know the rolls in the fairways a little bit better, it certainly helps,” Decker said.
Decker logged five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys in Tuesday’s 65. He says 64 is his best score in all the years he’s played here. One of the birdies was a chip-in and he sank a 25- to 30-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 17th.
“I put myself in some good spots. I struck the ball a little bit better today and made some putts. These are the best greens I’ve putted on in several months. Everybody else’s greens are pretty stressed. It’s not up here. The cool weather in the evening time and the low humidity, boy it’s really perfect for these greens,” he said.
Green was one of five players who opened with 9-over 79 but bounced back Tuesday to earn match-play berths. The others were Caprio, Brogan, Scott Reisenweaver (Salisbury CC, Midlothian) and Neil Davis (Birdwood GC, Charlottesville).
View results for Virginia Senior Amateur Golf Championship