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Virginia Senior Amateur: Zobel leads

HOT SPRINGS, Va., (Aug. 22, 2011) –– Virginia Beach golfer Skip Zobel, 56, shot 5-under-par 67 at The Homestead’s Old Course to lead the first day of stroke play qualifying at the 64th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship being conducted at The Homestead’s Old Course and Cascades Course.

Making his second start in the event after reaching the age eligibility requirement last year, Zobel logged six birdies against a bogey. Local Jack Vardaman, 71, of Hot Springs, a VSGA member at The Homestead, and event rookie Van Renick, 55, of Roanoke each shot 2-under 70 at the Old Course, Meanwhile reigning USGA Senior Amateur finalist Pat Tallent, 58, of Vienna posted 2-under 68 to register the low round at the par-70 Cascades Course

Six other competitors posted 1-under 71 – each of those scores came at the Old Course. The group includes Elkton’s Jeff Nemoytin, 64, the finalist at the 2007 VSGA Senior Amateur at the Cascades, and Chantilly’s John Price, 60, the runner-up at the 2009 VSGA Senior Four-Ball Championship.

After an early birdie, Zobel admittedly settled into his round after making a 40-footer for birdie at the par-3 fifth hole. He added another birdie – this time from close range (4 feet) – on the outward half at the par-3 ninth, to turn in three under. Zobel added three birdies on the second nine – all inside 10 feet. Despite a closing bogey at the par-3 18th, he carries some added confidence heading into Tuesday’s second round at the Cascades Course, which was more demanding on day one.

“I was just trying to trust my swing and put myself in the right positions out there – that’s what you have to do,” said Zobel, a retired Naval aviator who served more than 25 years. “The greens were spectacular; where you hit it was where your ball was going to end up. It was all good.”

Altogether, 34 competitors shot a score of 76 or better in the first round with 31 of those scores being carded at the Old Course. The Cascades’ stern test didn’t seem to bother Tallent. The reigning VSGA Senior Four-Ball winner and 2007 VSGA Amateur champion has plenty of experience on the regional and national stage. It showed in the first round as he patiently recorded three birdies against a bogey. His 68 was three strokes better than the next nearest fellow-competitor’s score at the Cascades.

Following Tuesday’s second round of stroke play qualifying, 32 players will advance to the match play portion of the championship.

Ashland’s Tim Kelley, the top-ranked amateur in the VSGA senior player rankings’ entering the event, withdrew from the championship after battling a back injury.

The first and second rounds of match play are set for Wednesday, Aug. 24, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals on Thursday, Aug. 25. The scheduled 18-hole championship final is set for Friday, Aug. 26. The match play portion of the championship will be conducted at the Cascades Course.

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