PENHOOK, VA (September 18, 2016) -- Sounds like the locals knew what they were talking about.
In the week leading up to the 40th VSGA Mid-Amateur Championship, seemingly everyone Matt Chandler saw had the same message for him: The tournament is yours to lose. There was plenty of reason for that line of thinking. The Water’s Edge Country Club is essentially a home track for the Franklin County native, and he was coming off a championship in the 2015 VSGA Mid-Amateur.
Staked to a five-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s third and final round, Chandler didn’t give anyone a chance to catch him. He shot 4 under on the front to increase his lead over the pack to nine strokes and cruised home with a 3-under 69 for a three-day 204 and his second straight victory in the event.
Chandler (Hunting Hills CC) became the fourth player to post back-to-back wins in the Mid-Amateur, joining Jon Hurst, Nick Biesecker and Keith Decker, who won three straight titles from 2003-05 and consecutive championships in 1990 and 1991.
“I was trying to shoot 5 under today, that’s what I had in my mind,” Chandler said. “To go under 4 under through five, I was thinking it might be a special day of sorts. But I kind of stalled. But I feel good about it. It was a pretty easy day other than two questionable tee shots.”
Chandler finished six shots clear of Vincent Nadeau (Spring Creek GC), who shot 70 on Sunday and has two runner-up finishes in two VSGA Mid-Amateur starts. Adam Horton (Elizabeth Manor G&CC) returned a 1-under 71 and finished in third at 212, eight shots back of Chandler.
Chandler said Saturday that he wanted to play the final round as if he didn’t have the lead. He backed those words up, opening with a birdie on the par-5 1st hole as the other two players in his group – Horton and Nadeau – made par. Nadeau entered the day five shots back. Horton was six behind. For them to have any hope, Chandler was going to have to come back to the pack. It never happened.
Chandler birdied four of the first five holes. Nadeau and Horton both had four pars and a bogey over that stretch.
“That kind of threw a wrench in the plans right there,” Horton said. “I made kind of a sloppy bogey on 3. I don’t like to give up or quit, but that closed the door pretty quickly right there. I did the quick math, and after the fifth hole, I was trailing by 11.”
Said Nadeau: “I knew we were kind of playing for second after those first couple of holes. He just doesn’t miss. It’s always pretty close, and he’ll make a putt here or there. He was putting well in the beginning, and I knew I had to shoot 7, 8, 9 under to even have a chance.”
Nadeau steadied himself and made birdies on Nos. 8, 10 and 12 to put himself in position to finish second. Horton struggled on the front nine all week, making all seven of his bogeys and his lone double bogey on the outward nine. He settled down on the back Sunday and made three straight birdies starting with No. 11. He played the inward nine bogey free for the third straight day.
“I just got off to a rough start,” Horton said. “The front nine this week just had my number.”
Jeffrey Long (Evergreen CC), Steve Serrao (Willow Oaks CC) and Kyle Bailey (Roanoke CC) tied for fifth at 214, with Serrao tying Chandler and Justin Young (Ballyhack GC) for low-round honors on Sunday with a 69. Scott Shingler (Evergreen CC) took sixth at 215. Buck Brittain (The Virginian GC) and Decker (Chatmoss CC) tied for seventh at 216.
The week, though, belonged to Chandler, who also won the 2012 title at Hidden Valley CC in Salem.
“Last year was kind of a fluke,” Chandler said. “The weather was awful. I played a really good round and kind of backed my way into one. But this year, I felt like I played pretty good from start to finish, and maybe honestly won this one.”
View results for Virginia Mid-Amateur Golf Championship