Virginia Pub Links: Batthany wins in playoff

MIDLOTHIAN, Va., Aug. 26, 2011 –– Due to the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Irene, the 8th Virginia State Golf Association Public Links championship, originally scheduled for 54 holes of stroke play, was reduced to a one-day 36-hole stroke-play competition on Friday. Saturday’s scheduled 18-hole round was cancelled.

But that alteration didn’t stop local Tom Batthany (Midlothian) from draining a 6-foot birdie putt on the fourth extra hole, the par-4 18th, to outlast fellow-competitors Jimmy Delp (Arlington) and Lee Fisher (Altavista) and win the event, which is open to bona fide public course players.

All three competitors finished the two rounds at 2-under-par 142. Batthany and Fisher both had rounds of 70-72, while Delp shot 74-68.

At the fourth extra hole, Batthany (pictured right) played his pitching wedge second shot to flagstick high on the left and he curled in the left to right breaking birdie putt to take home his first VSGA title. For Batthany, who lives less than five miles from Independence, where he plays and practices, the 40-hole journey that ended as darkness loomed in the late stages was well worth it when the one-day marathon concluded.

That’s because with trophy in hand, he knows that when he returns home to his wife and three young children, ranging in ages from 3 to 7, impending weather patterns will give way to a celebratory occasion.

“Every time I walk in the door after playing in VSGA events, my kids ask me, ‘Where’s the trophy, dad? Where’s the trophy?’ ” said the 42-year-old Batthany, his voice filling with emotion. “When I walk in the door tonight, they’re going to explode. They’re going to be jumping all over me. This [win] is all due to my family.

“And the guys who I play and practice with at Independence have made me a better player.”

Both Delp and Fisher had chances to claim the championship in extra holes in the 10 and 18 rotation. On the first extra hole, the short par-4 10th, Delp’s 6-foot downhill putt to win needed a fraction more pace, but slid by the low side. Fisher faced a deciding putt from 16 feet at the third extra hole, No. 10, but the putt hung on the edge of the hole and somehow stayed out.

Batthany, who works for IBM and serves as treasurer of the Richmond Golf Association, made sure there would be no more close calls when the competitors returned to No. 18. After knocking his approach shot from 130 yards close, Batthany confirmed – and reconfirmed – the line of his birdie putt, focusing his eyes on the hole with laser-like precision, before calmly stroking the putt in the left center to decide the championship. At No. 18, Fisher’s second shot flew long, while Delp drained a 7-footer for par, leaving Batthany with a must-make in order to win. When Batthany’s putt found the bottom, he subtly bit his bottom lip with pride seemingly as a sign of respect for his fellow-competitors’; they’d played well, too, he knew.

Prior to extra holes, the central Virginian shot two under in the morning. Following two birdies in three holes inside 5 feet at Nos. 11 and 13 in the second round, he was four under for the championship. But at the par-5 17th, he pulled his second shot left and made double bogey to fall back to two under, likely a distant memory once things concluded.

After shooting two over in the morning, Delp came back to post a championship-best round of four under after the lunch break, posting six birdies against two bogeys. Starting his afternoon round on No. 10, he made four straight birdies from Nos. 12-15, wielding a hot putter to start the surge by making a 20-footer at the par-4 12th hole, then converted a chip-and-putt birdie at the par-5 13th. Delp knocked in a 40-footer at the par-3 14th and made an 8-footer one hole later to turn in three under. He made two birdies against a bogey on his inward nine in the afternoon.

Fisher, who admittedly feels comfortable on the Independence layout, used 29 putts in posting three birdies against a bogey in the first round, before totaling 27 putts on the host site’s slick greens in the afternoon.

View results for Virginia (VSGA) Public Links Championship

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