Two-seed Scott Shingler is the highest remaining seend
ALDIE, VA (June 29, 2017) - The quarterfinals of the 104th Virginia Amateur Championship will have a distinctively older feel for the first time in years.
A college or high school player has won the championship every year since 2011. But after Thursday’s play at The Club at Creighton Farms, four mid-amateurs remained. Another quarterfinalist—three-time VSGA Amateur finalist Ji Soo Park—will join the over-25 ranks next month.
“Well, all right, we’ve had a good showing so far,” said Scott Shingler, the last mid-am to hoist the Schwarzschild Brothers Trophy. The 45-year-old Shingler (Dominion Valley CC) was the only player among the top five seeds to advance Thursday, defeating Keith Decker (Chatmoss CC) 2 and 1 in the round of 32 before surviving his match with Connor Messick (International CC) thanks to a stellar 9-iron shot on No.1, the competitors’ 19th hole.
Shingler’s reward is a matchup with the hottest player in the field, fellow mid-am Jordan Utley (Independence CC), a finalist in 2014 who followed his 68 in the second-round of stroke-play qualifying with a 7-and-6 win over Brandon Weaver (Loudoun G&CC) and a 6-and-5 triumph against Matthew Ashley (1757 GC) on Thursday.
Vincent Nadeau (Spring Creek GC) and Steve Serrao (Willow Oaks CC) also made it through to Friday. Nadeau, 29, defeated Drew Brockwell (GC at the Highlands), a rising senior at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, in the round of 32 before ousting Virginia Tech’s Logan Yates (Greene Hills Club) 5 and 3 in the round of 16.
Serrao, 49, got past George Mason’s Davis Soderberg (Spring Creek GC) in the morning before beating Yale-bound junior Teddy Zinsner (Belle Haven CC) 2 up in the afternoon.
The only active college players to make it to the quarterfinals were Virginia Tech’s Mark Lawrence Jr. (Hermitage CC) and Arizona State’s Ryan Douglass (River Creek Club). The final quarterfinalist is Brandon Yoon (1757 GC), who will begin his career at the University of Virginia later this summer.
Ten years after Pat Tallent won the VSGA Amateur as the No. 32 seed, Lawrence is trying to accomplish the same feat. By seeding, his round-of-32 win over stroke-play medalist Michael Brennan (River Creek Club) was an upset. But in reality, it was much less so.
Lawrence, who needed a birdie in a five-man playoff just to make match play, defeated Brennan 3 and 2 in the round of 32. Later, Lawrence topped Lee Fisher (Poplar Grove GC) 4 and 3 to reach Friday’s quarterfinals.
Was the 32 ousting the 1 really an upset? Not when you consider Lawrence’s pedigree. He’s a three-time VSGA Junior Match Play champion and has reached the semifinals and championship match at the Amateur. Brennan, coming off a week that included a Junior Match play title of his own and medalist honors at Creighton Farms, is a 15 year old with a huge summer of golf ahead of him. Sometimes the way the seedings fall, you get matchups like Brennan-Lawrence early in a tournament.
“That was a really tough match,” Lawrence said. “Michael’s a really tough player. Definitely though, making a putt yesterday [in the playoff]—because I hadn’t made anything all week—it helped a lot, giving me some confidence on the greens.”
Lawrence will meet another past finalist seeking his first title in Friday’s quarterfinals. Park (1757 GC) defeated Ben Carroll (Blacksburg CC) and Joey McLister (Loudoun G&CC) to advance to face Lawrence.
“I played with him the first two days in stroke play, and he’s one of the best ball strikers,” Park said. “He’s been known for ball striking for a long time. I enjoy playing with him. We’re going to go have fun. I’ve just got to play my game and play my best.”
Serrao, who played at UVa from 1986-90, has made match play several times at the Amateur but will be making his first quarterfinal appearance.
“I’ve run into some good players, and that’s just the way it is,” said Serrao, who was exempt from qualifying thanks to a top-five finish in last year’s VSGA Mid-Amateur Championship. “I’m really happy. I’ve been playing well. I was just happy to get through stroke play.”
His matchup with Yoon—who eliminated 2016 semifinalist Trey Wren (Cedar Point CC) and junior Dru Richter IV (Salisbury CC)—ensures there will be a Wahoo in the semifinals.“At least one of us will survive,” Serrao said.
Shingler had a par putt to close out Messick on 18, but it lipped out, sending the match to extra holes. Shingler dialed up a 9-iron from 135 yards away, struck it perfectly and twirled his club. The shot hit the green and settled a foot from the hole. Messick missed a 50-foot birdie putt from off the green that would have extended the match.
Utley didn’t face any drama on Thursday. In his round-of-16 match against Ashley, he won the first seven holes to take a commanding lead. Though Ashley gamely made some birdies to extend the match, the hole was too deep.
“Today happened to be a day I got hot, stayed hot and took advantage of mistakes that my opponents made,” Utley said. “It was a combination of really putting pressure on them from the first hole and continuing to keep the foot down on the pedal.”
Douglass was 4 up with five to play against Cigna (Laurel Hill GC). But Cigna stormed back thanks to an out-of-this-world short game. Cigna won four straight holes and had a five-foot putt on 18 to win, but he left it short. He had another chance to win on the 19th hole but pushed a short par putt right. On No. 2 (the 20th hole), Douglass hit a wedge that spun back 25 yards down a slope and settled a foot from the hole. Needing to hole out from the bunker to extend the match, Cigna went long.
“He lost his game a little bit in the middle of the round, but he obviously found it on 14,” Douglass said. “He got up and down from a plugged lie in the bunker. I mean, he was dead. Then he got up and down from absolutely nowhere on 15. … He definitely didn’t give up. I’m thankful for the fight, honestly. I’ve never had somebody win four holes in a row on me ever in match play. That was awesome. It was a lot of fun.”
The winners of Friday morning’s quarterfinals advance to the semifinals in the afternoon. The 36-hole championship match is scheduled for Saturday morning.
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