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Justin Young starts quickly at Virginia Mid-Amateur
First round leader Justin Young <br>(VSGA Photo)
First round leader Justin Young
(VSGA Photo)
WILLIAMSBURG, VA (September 15, 2017) - Between the Delta Dental State Open of Virginia in mid-July and the 41st VSGA Mid-Amateur Championship, which began Friday at Williamsburg Golf Club, Justin Young played in only one tournament, the Valentine Invitational at Hermitage Country Club.

Lack of competition sometimes leads to rustiness for tournament players, but it didn’t seem to affect Young Friday. He posted a bogey-free, 5-under-par 67 and stands atop the leaderboard heading into the Saturday’s second round of the 54-hole championship.

“I haven’t been playing a whole lot, just been practicing when I can,” said Young, a member at Ballyhack Golf Club. “I’ve been just trying to hit balls, trying to find something. Today was a good day.”

Young parred his first five holes before making back-to-back birdies at Nos. 6 and 7. He added birdies at 11, 13 and 16 to get to 5 under.

Seven players enter the second round of the championship for players ages 25 and older within three shots of Young, a group that includes Virginia Golf Hall of Famer Keith Decker (Chatmoss CC), who returned a 4-under 68 and is alone in second. Jay Zapko (Magnolia Green GC) got hot on the back nine and posted a 3-under 69 and is in third.

Five players were tied for fourth after shooting 70: Adam Houck (The Federal Club), Dave Pulk (Two Rivers CC), John Rosenstock (Elizabeth Manor G&CC), Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg CC), and Scott Shingler (Dominion Valley CC).

Decker has won 28 VSGA championships, a mix of titles earned as an individual and as part of a four-ball side. It all started for him in 1990 at Williamsburg Golf Club when he won the first of his seven Mid-Amateur titles. Now 57, Decker has had a strong season on the senior circuit, including a trip to the round of 16 at the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship in August.

He showed he still has plenty of game to hang with the younger guys, though. One of his fellow competitors, Kyle Bailey, was 2 years old when Decker won at Williamsburg in ’90.“I love it,” Decker said. “I really enjoy playing against these younger guys. Some of these guys playing in this … I won here in 1990, and some of these guys weren’t even born, when you think about it.”

Decker’s only bogey came on the first hole, and he made five birdies, all of the putts coming from inside of 10 feet. Zapko, who tied for 21st at the State Open in July, had a similar round, though with one less birdie. He made bogey on No. 1 and was 1 under after 10 holes when a random rainstorm hit the club. The horn never sounded, but players were asked to stay in their positions as the rain passed.

The soaking rain puddled on some of the greens, but those greens drained quickly and play resumed without an official delay.

“I had a nervy almost three-putt during the most intense downpour,” Zapko said. “But I came back out and made two birdies coming in once it calmed down a little bit. … I came in here with low expectations. I haven’t been playing much. So I played conservative. I had a decent game plan. I made a lot of up and downs to stay in the round, and I had a couple of decent putts fall when I needed them to.”

Houck, part of the group at 70, missed out on qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur in a playoff at The Foundry Golf Club last month. It took a little while for the sting to wear off, but he came back determined to improve from that experience. He was 1 over through 14 holes on Friday before rattling off three straight birdies to surge at the end.

“That left a really sour taste in my mouth,” Houck said of missing out on the U.S. Mid-Am. “You’ve got the choice of either not teeing up and trying again, or grinding your butt off and trying again the next time. It’s been a motivating factor just to get better.”

After Saturday, the field will be cut to the low 45 players and ties for Sunday’s third and final round. Among those within five shots of Young’s lead are two-time State Open of Virginia champion Roger Newsom (Elizabeth Manor G&CC) and Buck Brittain (The Virginian GC), who won the Senior Open of Virginia last week at Williamsburg’s Two River Country Club.

View results for Virginia Mid-Amateur Championship

ABOUT THE VSGA Mid-Amateur

54-hole stroke play competition (18 holes per day), with the field being cut to the low 45 and ties for the final round. Open to VSGA members who will be at least 25 years of age holding an active GHIN number issued by a licensed VSGA Member Club in good standing.

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