SALEM, Virg. (Sept. 30, 2012) -- Roanoke Valley area golfer Matt Chandler fired a final round even-par 71 to post a wire-to-wire three-stroke victory as the 36th Virginia State Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship concluded today at Hidden Valley Country Club.
The 30-year-old Hardy resident finished the event with a 13-under 200 aggregate. Fueled by a first round 61 on Friday, a single-round event record by an amateur in a VSGA stroke-play competition, Chandler eclipsed the championship’s all-time best 54-hole aggregate of 204 set in 1994 by Bill Williard of Virginia Beach.
Chandler, a former mini-tour player, picked up his first victory in a VSGA championship since being reinstated to amateur status in October 2011.
“Anytime you get a win, especially in a tournament like this, it feels good,” said Chandler, who captured the Roanoke Valley Hall of Fame Match Play Championship earlier this summer. “Luckily, the 61 gave me a good cushion, and I was fortunate to come out ahead.”
Fellow local and friend Justin Young, 34, of Roanoke closed with 1-over 72 and placed second (10-under 203). Haymarket’s Scott Shingler, the 2010 champion, closed with 4-under 67 to match the low round of the day and finished tied for third with Arlington’s Jimmy Delp (69) at 6-under 207.
After Chandler had 61 in Friday’s first round, and Young carded 63 in his own right the same day, both competitors separated themselves from the rest of the field. They each returned 68 in the second round, basically turning the competition into a two-player race.
Chandler, owner of a two-stroke lead entering Sunday’s final round, saw his margin whittled to a single stroke after Young shot two under on the outward half. With the event essentially taking on a match-play aura, Chandler hit par-5 12th hole in two shots to set up an eventual birdie and he moved two ahead at 15 under. Young countered at the short par-4 13th, making birdie from close range feet to close to within one.
But for all the red numbers both players put up throughout the event, some steady play on the second nine helped Chandler to victory. At the par-3 16th, Chandler holed a 12-footer for par, while Young just misfired on his 10-footer. Young then made double bogey one hole later after hooking his tee shot into the woods on the left and shot three over on the inward half. Still, his total would’ve been good enough to win any other year.
“It was a good week – just not as good as Matt’s,” Young said. “We were neck and neck pretty much the whole way until the end. If I was going to lose to anyone, I would want for it to be Matt.”
Chandler kept making pars late on the second nine from Nos. 13-16 and opened his lead to four strokes with two holes to play. His two closing bogeys would matter little; playing two demanding holes in Nos. 14 and 15 in even par were important in claiming victory.
“Those are two tough holes where things can go either way on you,” Chandler said. “I played those holes well all three days.”
Chandler also put his name in the VSGA record books on Friday and followed it up by registering seven birdies over the final two rounds. His margin of victory was the most in the championship’s history since 2004 when record seven-time event winner Keith Decker of Martinsville won by eight strokes at Boonsboro Country Club in Lynchburg.
“My mindset was good all the way,” said Chandler, who works as a contract salesperson in the Smith Mountain Lake area. “I tried not to think about the lead too much. I wasn’t playing defensively and I wanted to go out and shoot a good number.”
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