By Jerry Ratcliffe, The Daily Progress of Charlottesville
Club pro Mike Moyers, left, congratulates champion Jon Hurst (Greene Hills photo)
STANARDSVILLE, VA (April 15, 2018) - Jon Hurst had been trying to win the Greene Hills Invitational for almost 15 years and had come up short every time, including a playoff loss to Mikey Moyers in 2014.
After posting a 2-under par 69 in brutal weather conditions Sunday, the Fredericksburg golfer was the leader in the clubhouse in the 37th annual event. Hurst knew he had a chance but wasn’t sure exactly where he stood with first round leaders still on the course.
Haymarket’s Scott Shingler, one of the top amateurs in the state, and the first-round leader, still had to finish along with Jimmy Delp and a handful of others who were in contention.
Shingler, who opened the final round with a three-shot lead, struggled down the home stretch as the weather worsened, and really didn’t know where he stood coming into the 165-yard, par-3, 18th hole. A howling wind was blowing full force into the face of golfers on the No. 18 tee box, making it near impossible to hit the green.
As it turned out, Shingler would have needed a birdie to force a playoff with Hurst, who watched from the clubhouse grounds just above the 18th hole. Instead, Shingler’s tee shot plugged in the front bunker, forcing him to blast out sideways, leading to a double-bogey and handing the elusive Greene Hills championship to the long-awaiting Hurst.
Or, at least that’s what everyone thought. Due to a near illegible scorecard from another golfer, there was nearly 10 minutes of confusion on just who would get the trophy.
Even after Shingler’s double on the 18th, there was momentary uncertainty if Hurst had won. His two-day, 146 was circled with “champion” written by his name on the club scoreboard.
However, someone noticed that a 145 was beside Scott Garrison’s name with a final round 70.
“Well, I guess I didn’t win after all,” bemoaned Hurst.
Garrison had already left the course and was summoned back, only to learn that his “78” on his rain-soaked scorecard had been mistaken as a “70.” The mistake was quickly corrected and Hurst was officially allowed to celebrate his first championship in two years (Fredericksburg Amateur, 2016).
Afterward, with trophy in hand, Hurst wasn’t sure of his win earlier either.
“I was 4-over (for the tournament) and didn’t know where I stood but felt like I had a chance with the way the weather was for these guys,” Hurst said. “[The weather] was probably worse for them for more holes than it was for me. I can’t remember the last time I played a round of golf where [the weather] changed so drastically from the front nine to the back nine.”
The final two threesomes, including Shingler’s group of Delp and Greene Hills’ Bubba Knight, and another grouping of Brian Bassett, Phillip Mahone, and Scott Garrison, felt the brunt of the bad weather.
While a gusting, swirling wind had complicated club choice and shot-making for the entire tournament, at least it was accompanied by mid-70s temperatures until the last two groups made the turn on Sunday. A cold front rolled in, dropping the temps to the 50s, along with intermittent rain and a wind that chilled the bone.
At that point, Shingler was still in control. He sank a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-4, 7th hole that put him at 1-over for the tournament. He remainded that way at the turn, nearly holing out for a birdie on the ninth, but settling for par.
That’s when the weather turned as well and subsequently led to back-to-back bogeys for Shingler. Delp, who was also in contention after a birdie at the 11th, suffered a double bogey at the par-4, 12th, that he never recovered from.
Shingler parred 12, 13, and 14 before suffering another bogey at 15 after an errant tee shot behind trees on the right, blocking his path to the green. He proceeded to bogey the 16th, parred the 17th, then found the bunker on the 18th that led to his demise.
Meanwhile, Hurst had navigated Greene Hills’ front nine at even par, then leapfrogged most of the field with three consecutive birdies on 12, 13, and 14 before he suffered his only blemish, a bogey on the 15th. He parred his way home from there.
“I knew if I started and the weather got bad, that I was out front of those guys, and if I posted a score that I might have a chance,” Hurst said. “It just happened to work out.”
Shingler said that at the beginning of the round, he believed an even par day would give him a good chance at winning on a course he had never played until this weekend.
“I had a game plan, stuck with it, but Mother Nature got the best of me and most everyone else,” said Shingler, who competed in both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Am last season. “I just didn’t play well enough to finish it off.”
Meanwhile, Hurst was basking in a win for the first time in a couple of years.
“It’s good to get back into the winner’s circle again,” Hurst said.
He wasn’t so sure after a first-round, six-over 77.
“I came out with a new attitude today,” Hurst said. “My attitude was terrible Saturday. If I have a couple of bad holes, I tend to get in a bad mood.”
His overnight attitude adjustment paid off.
Parker See finished second with a six-over, 148, one stroke ahead of Farmington’s Bassett and Shingler, tied for third. Joey Beeler and Quinn Boyle tied for fifth at 151, while Spring Creek’s Brad Ferguson, Christopher White, Dustin Groves, Jay Zapko, Lee Fisher, and Garrison tied for seventh at 153.
Scott Reisenweaver won the Senior Division with a final round, 2-over 73, for a 6-over 148, two-day total. John Hoffman won the Super Seniors with a 6-over 148.