LORTON, VA (August 31, 2009)--Northern Virginian Jimmy Delp (Arlington) scored a 1-up victory over stroke play medalist Jason Copeland (Virginia Beach) in Monday’s championship final to claim the 6th Virginia State Golf Association Public Links Championship, which concluded today at Laurel Hill Golf Club (6,737 yards, par 36-35—71). The championship is open to bona fide public course players.

The third-seeded Delp, a participant in VSGA championships since his early teen years, took home his first VSGA title. By his own admission, Delp scored the most significant championship victory in his golf career.

“It’s nice to say that I won one of these,” said Delp, 30, a VSGA member at Medal of Honor Golf Course. “That was fun.”

In the morning semifinals, Delp registered a hard-fought 1-up win over ’08 finalist Jeffrey Topp (Fairfax), while Copeland, the 2005 event champion, posted another dominating victory in his half of the bracket, ousting Tom Adrounie of Fairfax, 6 and 4.

The top-seeded Copeland hadn’t trailed in any of his match play encounters leading up to the championship match, but Delp quickly took care of that trend, playing a four-hole stretch from Nos. 4-7 in four under par to build a 4-up advantage.

The surge featured a blend of both power and precision. He hit a pinpoint 8-iron shot to 7 feet at the par-3 fourth hole for a birdie and a 1-up lead. Delp then used his length off the tee to set up opportunities and wins at Nos. 5 and 6. After blistering drives at both holes, his accurate approaches resulted in a conceded eagle at the par-5 fifth and he drained a 10-footer for birdie at the long par-4 sixth hole. Delp then completed the surge by making a nice par save after being short-sided right of the green at the par-4 seventh hole.

Steady and efficient with his game all week, Copeland started to show those traits again during a mid-match rally, taking three of five holes from Nos. 9-13. At the par-5 ninth, Copeland converted his first birdie of the deciding match by holing a downhill 15-footer to close to within three. The 31-year-old Copeland continued his comeback at the par-3 11th, stuffing his tee shots to 4 feet below the hole for an ensuing birdie. He got within one by winning the sloppily-played par-4 13th hole.

In many ways, Delp’s game is built on length but it was short game that shined in the late stages. Seemingly losing control of his early hold on the match, Delp (pictured right) kept his 1-up lead by somehow saving par from a narrow bunker situated 30 feet below the green at the par-3 14th hole. Unable to see the green from the bunker, his terrific second shot came to rest 15 feet below the hole and he converted the par-saving putt.

“That’s the best up and down I’ve had all year,” Delp said. “I picked a target and I knew if I could just get it on the green, I’d have a pretty good look at it.”

For his part, Copeland negotiated the green’s humps and bumps at No. 14, but also knew the importance of his opponent’s escape for a halve.

“I thought that after [No.] 13, I had a good chance,” said Copeland, a marketing instructor and the golf coach at Floyd E. Kellam High School. “[No.] 14 might’ve changed the match – coming in, he might’ve made a mistake.”

Instead, Delp made a nerve-rattling 5-footer for par and a halve at the par-5 15th hole to keep his lead. Copeland made up and down par saves from just off the green at Nos. 16 and 17 to stay within one heading to No. 18.

At the par-5 finishing hole, Copeland layed up his second shot to perfect position. Faced with a 210-yard shot to a water-guarded putting surface, Delp played a gutsy 6-iron second that easily cleared the hazard and came to rest 18 feet beyond the flagstick. He cozied his downhill eagle attempt to within 3 inches of the cup for a conceded birdie and the title.

In the semifinals, Delp was faced with a similar second shot that found the inside margin of the hazard and though he was able to play the shot, it came from an awkward, squishy lie. Delp said he had no hesitation in going for the green in the afternoon session.

“I wasn’t afraid,” said Delp, who works in the facilities management office for the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. “I thought, ‘If I can’t hit a 6-iron to a big green, I don’t deserve to win.’ I hit it pure and when it was in the air, I knew I hit a good shot.”

Copeland (pictured right), who hadn’t been pushed beyond the 15th hole in any of his three previous encounters, lamented the lack of birdies chances he afforded himself in the championship match. Possessor of a lethal short game, Copeland’s iron play was a fraction off in the final.

“I struggled hitting the ball in the morning and afternoon with my irons,” said Copeland, a VSGA member at Ocean View Golf Course in Norfolk. “You have to hit some greens. I could’ve put pressure on him with one good iron shot – I just didn’t.”

Delp relied on timely putting in posting four match-play victories. He credited a two and a half hour session on the practice putting green on Thursday with friend and ’08 champion A.J. Gerlach (Falls Church) with helping to smooth out his stroke that served him well in an ebb and flow final.

“I was confident coming in here,” Delp said. “I feel like my putting has hurt me, but it came through on Nos. 14 and 15.”

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