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Virginias hold three-point lead at 71st Captain’s Putter Matches
Virginia's Scott Shingler hit a crucial putt late on Friday <br>(VSGA Photo)
Virginia's Scott Shingler hit a crucial putt late on Friday
(VSGA Photo)
MANAKIN-SABOT, VA (October 14, 2016) -- As the sun crept under the tree line and gave way to a fabulous nearly full moon on a chilly late afternoon, Scott Shingler (Evergreen CC) rolled home a 20-foot putt on No. 8 at Kinloch Golf Club for a match-clinching birdie, securing an unlikely and crucial point as the first day of the 71st Captain’s Putter Matches wound down.

And don’t think Shingler and partner Justin Young (Ballyhack GC) underestimated what their victory – in which they came back from three down at the turn against Carolinas’ counterparts Nicholas Lyerly and Kevin O’Connell – meant for the Virginias’ team.

“Every point is crucial, because the Carolinas, they’re a great team,” Shingler said. “They always put together a solid team. So you have the mindset that every point really is important.”

Shingler and Young were one of three Virginias’ sides to record two points in Friday’s four-ball and foursome matches. Kyle Bailey (Roanoke CC) and Vincent Nadeau (Spring Creek GC) did so, as did Buck Brittain (The Virginian GC) and Matt Chandler (Hunting Hills GC). Those six points helped the Virginias take a 13½-10½ lead into Saturday, as the Virginias try to wrest the Captain’s Putter back from the Carolinas’ squad, which won last year’s matches in Winston-Salem.

The Ryder Cup-style competition pitting top amateurs from the VSGA and West Virginia Golf Association against top amateurs from the Carolinas Golf Association concludes Saturday with 24 singles matches, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Shingler and Young birdied the first two holes on the back nine to get back into their foursomes match against O’Connell and Lyerly, who at 17 is the youngest competitor in the field. They didn’t stop there. They birdied five of the eight holes they played on the back to turn a deficit at the turn into a 2 and 1 win.

“It’s not like we were playing poorly,” Shingler said. “We just made a couple of bogeys, and they played solidly. We made a couple of mistakes, and then next thing you know, you’re three down. It was a little bit of a concern. Justin made a good point, saying, ‘Let’s just chop away at it one at a time, one birdie at a time, and see what happens.’”

Shingler and Young weren’t the only side to make a stirring comeback to snare a point. Keith Decker (Chatmoss CC) and Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg CC) were one down with three holes to play in their foursome match against Parker Dudley and Daniel Neveu. Hurst teed off on No. 7 in the alternate-shot format, and Decker finished the job by draining a slick 30-foot birdie putt to square the match.

On No. 8, Neveu hit his approach into the pond guarding the green, and Decker and Hurst won that hole to take a 1-up lead. The sides halved No. 9 (they started on No. 10), giving Decker and Hurst the win.

“It was a good comeback,” Decker said. “You know, it was fairly close all day. … Jon hit some good iron shots. He’s steady, as steady as they come.”

Bailey and Nadeau won their foursome match against Jarrett Grimes and Austin Zoller 4 and 3. They held on for dear life to grab a point in their morning four-ball match against Matthew Crenshaw and Paul Tucker. Bailey and Nadeau took a 1-up lead on No. 15, and the sides halved the next three holes, giving Bailey and Nadeau the win.

No. 18 was an adventure, however.

“We’re 1 up going to 18, and the guys holed out from 130 yards, and then we made like a 20-, 25-foot putt to win the match,” Nadeau said. “So it was pretty crazy.”

“One of the craziest finishes I’ve seen in a match-play format like this,” Bailey said.

Brittain and Chandler are both from Southwest Virginia, but prior to Friday, they had never partnered in competition. They took out Dudley and Neveu 1 up in morning four-ball before securing a 2-and-1 win over Steve Harwell and Joe Jaspers in the afternoon.

“I haven’t played since the Mid-Amateur [where Chandler won his second straight VSGA Mid-Am title],” Chandler said. “I didn’t want to let Buck down. I feel like every time I did let him down, he picked me right back up. … We came through when we had to.”

“I know we went out early,” Brittain said. “We sort of wanted to set the pace. We got the wins we needed.”

The most lopsided win of the day came from Virginias’ seniors James Gallagher (Tidewater Amateur Golf Tour) and Mike Krulich (Ballyhack GC). The pairing of the last two VSGA Senior Stroke Play champions provided 1½ points for the Virginias, gaining a half in the morning against Steve Liebler and Walter Todd before defeating Russ Perry and Pat Thompson 6 and 5 in foursome play.

Most impressively, Gallagher and Krulich lost the first two holes of that second match before turning it on.

“I did a lot of the putting, but he put me in great positions,” Gallagher said. “And I made a lot of putts. We just played really well. After those first two holes, we really didn’t make a mistake.”

Liebler and Todd gained 1 ½ points for the Carolinas, as did Jim Grainger and Jim Pearson, who halved their foursome match against the Virginias’ Pat Tallent and Matt Sughrue. Tallent is a past U.S. Senior Amateur champion. Sughrue reached the final match of the of the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur championship.

The Virginias need 11 points in Saturday’s singles matches to win the Captain’s Putter for the fifth time in the last six years. The Carolinas need at least 13 points to win the title. The Carolinas’ last win at a VSGA course came at Bayville GC in 2010.

“There’s a lot of pride,” Young said. “We want to win. We’re out here having fun. But we want to win, too. It’s about pride. It means a lot to a lot of guys who put into this thing. We care.”

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