Josh Riggleman (VSGA photo)
By Chris Lang
WINCHESTER, Va. (Oct. 12, 2018) — Fred Findlay golf courses tend to play shorter than many modern designs. But short doesn’t always mean easy. The players competing in the first round of the 42nd Virginia State Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship Friday at Winchester Country Club learned that quickly.
Despite playing a shade over 6,300 yards, Winchester still had plenty of bite, thanks to swirling winds and tight, small greens. It helps to have some local knowledge, and no one was better equipped to handle Winchester’s quirks Friday than WCC member Josh Riggleman, the defending club champion.
Riggleman was the only player to post a score in the 60s on Friday, his 2-under 69 giving him a one-stroke lead over Alexandria’s Jimmy Delp heading into Saturday’s second round.
“Local knowledge with this golf course is huge,” Riggleman said. “The greens are soft, but you can’t short-side yourself with how small these greens are. So local knowledge helps out a whole lot.”
After Saturday’s second round, the field will be cut the low 45 players and ties for Sunday’s third and final round of the 54-hole championship for players ages 25 and older.
Lynchburg’s Lee Fisher was the third player to post a par-or-better score, touring Winchester’s layout at even-par 71. Defending champion Justin Young of Salem shot a 1-over 72 and is in fourth.
For the first time, the Mid-Am’s first two rounds featured a shotgun start, and Riggleman began his day on the par-3 10th. He bogeyed Nos. 12 and 13 and was 2 over through his first six holes before breaking through for back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17. After the rough start, he settled in and played his final 12 holes at 4 under.
The wind played a role in the higher scores Friday, Riggleman said.
“It was a huge factor. It was swirling all day,” he said. “You get to the bottom of this golf course, the wind comes across the interstate and across the bottom and it sits there and swirls. Knowing what it does when you’re down there helps. We had a couple of guys sitting there scratching their heads. But I like playing in the wind. Where I played in college (Potomac State in West Virginia), we played in a lot of winds up in the mountains, so it kind of fits for me.”
Delp began his round off No. 1 and got off to an uneven start, going bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie for his first four holes. He turned at even par and made a birdie on the par-4 11th before finishing his round with seven straight pars.
“I hit it to within 10, 15 feet on a lot of holes,” Delp said. “I just didn’t get anything to fall. … I haven’t been playing that well. My thumb’s kind of been bothering me for the last month, so I haven’t really put the practice in that I like to. So today, I just wanted to come out and see how it went.”
Fisher, who tied for fifth at last year’s Mid-Amateur in Williamsburg, played in Riggleman’s group and got off to a hot start with birdies on three of his first seven holes. He was 3 under through 12 but leaked at the finish, playing his final six holes at 3 over to fall back to even for the day. He wasn’t fooled by Winchester’s lack of length.
“They say the same thing about Farmington Country Club too,” Fisher said, referencing another Findlay layout. “I hear these kids come from Kentucky or wherever and they laugh at it. I laugh right back at them, because these greens, that’s the defense out here. These greens, they’re picture perfect. They’re awesome. They roll smooth. If you can just hit it in the right spots, you’re good.”
Young made four birdies but was undone by “two bad swings,” he said, leading to a pair of double bogeys that left him 1 over for the day. Still, at just three strokes back, the defending champ is very much still in the hunt heading to the weekend.
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ABOUT THE VSGA Mid-Amateur
54-hole stroke play competition (18 holes per day),
with the field being cut to the low 45 and ties for the
final round. Open to VSGA members who will be at
least 25 years of age holding an active GHIN
issued by a licensed VSGA Member Club in good
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