Grayson Wood (VSGA photo)
Grayson Wood doesn’t lack for confidence. As the week of the 110th Virginia State Golf Association Amateur Championship kicked off on Monday at Boonsboro Country Club, Wood chatted with VSGA Rules Official Brian Maloney and casually asked if he would be refereeing Wood’s match on Friday.
When asked after stroke-play qualifying ended on Tuesday about his goals for match play, Wood said he wanted to go farther than last year. Considering he was a finalist at the 109th VSGA Amateur at Cedar Point Club, that statement meant only one thing: Win or bust.
Wood’s confidence is well placed. Coming into Friday’s 36-hole title match against precocious Blacksburg High School student Jake Albert, Wood had won 12 of 13 matches he had played in VSGA championships, including the final of the VSGA Junior Match Play last summer at Willow Oaks Country Club against Albert. Make that 13 of 14. Wood and Albert exchanged blows all day in a fast-moving match, but Wood’s putter proved to be the difference in a grueling 1-up victory. Wood (Fredericksburg CC) became the first player since Virginia Golf Hall of Famer Wynsol Spencer to follow up an Amateur loss with a victory the next year. Spencer accomplished the feat in 1947-48. Rare indeed.
“Jake put up an amazing fight,” Wood said. “Best match that I could have asked for.”
Neither player held more than a 3-up lead, with that occasion happening deep into the second 18 holes when Wood made and up-and-down birdie from the mulch right of the 12th hole. As soon as he took control, though, Albert (Blacksburg CC) countered. He won the 13th hole with a par to cut the lead to 2-up. After both players made par on 14, Albert hit a silly 8-iron to 18 inches on 15 for a conceded birdie to pull within one.
That momentum was short lived, though. Albert blasted his drive on 16 into the woods left of the fairway, and though he was able to escape and advance it, he was still well short of the green. Wood hit what he called the best 5-iron of his life from 189 yards out to 10 feet. Albert’s par putt came up one roll short, and Wood made a two-putt par to go 2-up with two to play.
Albert didn’t wilt. He hit a 4-iron on the 227-yard downhill par-3 17th to inside of 3 feet right after Wood had hit his tee shot about 15 feet past the hole. Wood spent most of the day with a hot putter, rolling in 15 and 20 footers with regularity. He thought he had the match won on 17, but his downhill birdie putt lipped out at the last second, sending the match to the final hole.
“I hit 4-iron and striped it, and it landed right of the pin and kicked left,” Albert said.
Albert was first to hit from the fairway and put his approach to about 10 feet on the fringe just off the left edge of the green. Wood said he didn’t feel much in the way of pressure standing over his approach.
“I was more nervous about Jake’s first putt than I was about the shot,” Wood said. “That’s just a normal wedge shot. That’s what I think about when I’m hitting those golf shots. It’s just another golf shot. There’s nothing special about it, in reality. I was more worried about whether or not Jake was going to make his putt.”
Albert was first to putt, and his birdie attempt to extend the match slipped past the hole. Wood needed a two-putt par to win, and his putter obliged once again. The two friends embraced on the green after the conclusion of one of the more thrilling Amateur title matches in recent memory.
Both players will participate in the U.S. Junior Amateur in July. Though Wood graduated from Massaponax High School in 2022, he took a gap year at a golf academy in South Carolina and just turned 18, so he still fits the USGA’s junior eligibility requirements. He’ll begin his career at VCU later this summer.
For Albert, the appearance in the Amateur final will certainly send his name rocketing up the college recruiting board.
“It’s going to give me a lot of confidence going into my next tournament,” Albert said, “knowing that I can play well and compete to win.”
Story courtesy of Chris Lang, VSGA
ABOUT THE Virginia Amateur
36 holes of stroke play qualifying (18 holes per
the low 32 players advance to match play. Non-
players must pre-qualify. Open to VSGA members of
ages. Participants must hold an active GHIN number
issued by a licensed VSGA Member Club in good
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