Richmond leads Virginia Sectional Team

FARMVILLE, Virginia (April 9, 2011) –– Fueled by a pair of rounds of 7-under-par 65, the eight-player Richmond South team opened with 15-under 273 and owns a five-stroke lead entering Sunday’s final round of the 40th Virginia State Golf Association Sectional Team Championship at The Manor Golf Club (6,842 yards, 6,287 yards for seniors ages 55 and over, par 36-36—72).

The Richmond South section has dominated the event in recent years, taking home each of the past two titles and triumphing three of the past four years.

In authoring a strong start, central Virginians Starell Cox (Chesterfield) and Paras Pandya (Midlothian), along with Robert Edwards (Richmond) and Nathan Lash (Richmond) equaled Richmond South’s low round of the day, a sizzling 65 in the cool and damp conditions. Seniors Tom Hackett (Powhatan)-John Cuomo (Richmond) added 2-under 70, while Richmond residents Chris Corrada and Larry Loving Jr. had 73.

Bolstered by three rounds in the 60s by team members, the Charlottesville/Valley section is second at 10-under 278, while Williamsburg is third and six strokes off the pace (9-under 279).

The nearly flawless performance of Richmond South’s two low scorers helped provide a nice cushion for a deep squad that knows full well how to win the event. The team’s core of players has remained intact in recent years and the familiarity shows in the team’s efficient performances.

Edwards and Lash complemented each other throughout the day, going bogey-free with seven birdies. A VSGA member at The Cardinal Golf Club at Fort Lee, Edwards’ seven birdies all counted toward the team’s aggregate. That said, both competitors were in position for scoring opportunities all day long, imperative in the four-ball format in which each player plays his ball into the hole, but only the best score is counted toward the team’s aggregate.

“We didn’t have to struggle,” Edwards said. “When I was out of the hole, Nathan was there to pick me up the whole way around, especially on some of the longer holes. Making birdies is easier when your partner is in the hole all the time. Plus, the greens were in really good shape. We kept the positive spirit going the whole way. Once a few putts fell, they just kept dropping.”

Meanwhile, friends and regular teammates Cox and Pandya recovered from a pedestrian start to play an eight-hole span from Nos. 11-18 on the second nine in six under par. Edwards finished the surge by stuffing his 4-iron second shot at the par-5 18th to 16 inches for an ensuing eagle. The tandem plays in highly-competitive four-ball events throughout the region and nation, but also share in friendly recreational rounds. They’ve developed a natural comfort level as a pairing.

“We’re buddies first and that’s one of the reasons were comfortable with one another,” said Cox, who was five under on his own ball. “We’re all good friends and we’re all comfortable with each other.”

The Charlottesville/Valley section was led by Charlottesville residents and Farmington Country Club members Cory Amory and Phil Mahone, who posted 5-under 67. Seniors Donald Robertson (Earlysville) and Jimmy Casella (Charlottesville) carded 68, while regulars Jerry Burton (Charlottesville) and former VSGA Amateur champion David Passerell (Scottsville) added 69.

An event that is dominated by mid-amateur regulars (ages 25 and older), this year’s exception is Williamsburg residents Seth Nooe and Patrick Scheil, who are a combined 40 years old. But the 17-year-old Nooe and Scheil, 23, accounted for the low round of the day of 8-under 64 to lead the Williamsburg section.

The championship concludes on Sunday with a 9:30 a.m. shotgun start.

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