By Chris Lang of the VSGA
Roger Newsom (L) and Keith Decker (VSGA photo)
By the time Roger Newsom set up for his approach shot on No. 18 Wednesday afternoon at The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Gold Course, the outcome of the 38th Virginia State Golf Association Senior Four-Ball Championship had already been decided. Newsom and partner Keith Decker teed off on the final hole with a four-shot lead, and considering they hadn’t made a bogey in the championship’s previous 35 holes, it would have taken something incredibly fluky to deny them the title.
Undeterred, Newsom hit a hybrid from the fairway from about 155 yards out and holed out for eagle, putting a giant exclamation point on the most dominating performance in championship history.
Virginia Beach’s Newsom (Elizabeth Manor G&CC) and Martinsville’s Decker (Ballyhack GC) broke the championship scoring record by three strokes with their two-day aggregate 19-under-par 123, shattering the previous mark of 126 set by Bob Morris and Pat Tallent in 2011.
Decker won his record 30th VSGA championship; he won his fourth Four-Ball title, tying Tallent for third all-time in most victories in the event; and the Decker-Newsom side’s six-stroke win was the third largest margin of victory in the history of the championship.
All in all, the victory was not unexpected, considering the pedigree of the two competitors. Both are multi-time State Open of Virginia champions, and Newsom was a finalist at last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur, a run that secured him an exemption into this summer’s U.S. Amateur Championship.
“I’ve been looking forward to playing a two-man with Keith for a long time,” Newsom said. “I just thoroughly enjoyed. It’s just the fact that every time I got up on the tee, I never had to worry about being out of the hole. I knew Keith was going to grind … I mean, he can crush granite with his eyelids. He’s just going to grind, and he’s never going to let you down. It’s fun to play golf that way.”
Said Decker: “We’re both fighters. We like to win. And we’re not going to give up on each other. It all worked this week.”
Decker and Newsom posted two bogey-free rounds and made at least birdie on each of the Gold Course’s par 5s over the tournament’s two days. They were in control from start to finish, though they managed a key up and down for par on No. 14 Wednesday to keep any hard-charging challengers at bay.
After his tee shot on the par-4 hole veered off the right and settled on pine straw near a tree trunk, he escaped with a shot that hit the front of the green but trickled backward into a bunker. He got out of the sand and left himself with about eight feet for par, and he drained the putt to keep the side’s bogey-free tournament intact.
“That was probably the biggest shot all day,” Newsom said.
Newsom birdied the next hole to move the side to 17 under for the tournament, ending the chance for any real drama down the stretch.
“Then we sort of find out where we stood,” Decker said. “We knew we had it if we didn’t have a heart attack or break a leg or something. We were in good shape, and then he slammed the door on 18.”
Decker and Newsom’s 7-under-par 64 was not the best score of the day Wednesday, but the four-stroke lead they opened the day with proved to be enough cushion to hold off the three sides that finished tied for second.
For the second straight year, Yorktown’s Bob Bailey (James River CC) and Midlothian’s Robert Nussey Jr. (Brandermill CC) followed up an unremarkable first round with a stellar second, posting a 10-under-par 61. They shot 59 in the final round last year at Wintergreen to clip Decker and Matt Sughrue by a stroke for the title, and Bailey even wore a Wintergreen hat to try to help recapture some of that magic.
“We’re so far behind, that we’re able to play free and easy,” Bailey said. “You know you have to go out and scorch it to even end up in the top five.”
Gainesville’s Rich Buckner (Robert Trent Jones GC) and Haymarket’s Ron Clatterbuck (Evergreen CC) shot the round of the day, an 11-under-par 60 that moved them into the tie for second. But a first-round 69 left them too far behind to start the day to realistically compete for the championship.
“We ham-and-egged it,” said Clatterbuck, who paired with Buckner last year to win the Golden Horseshoe Four-Ball. “We made the putts today. Yesterday, we didn’t get it going.”
Virginia Beach’s Michael Hays (Princess Anne CC) and Chesapeake’s Scott Huneycutt (Riverfront GC) also tied for second, following a first-round 63 with a second-round 66 for a two-day 129. Five sides tied for fifth at 12-under 130.
View results for VSGA Senior Four-Ball
ABOUT THE VSGA Senior Four-Ball
36-hole four-ball stroke play competition (18 holes
day). Open to VSGA Members who will are at least
years old and have an active GHIN number issued
licensed VSGA Member Club in good standing.
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