GORDONSVILLE –– Richmond’s Adam Ball, 20, delivered his second straight round of 6-under-par 66 to earn medalist honors in stroke play qualifying at the 101st Virginia State Golf Association Amateur Championship being conducted at Spring Creek Golf Club.
A rising junior at Virginia Commonwealth University, Ball completed 36-hole qualifying at 12-under 132 and earned the top seed for match play, which begins on Thursday morning. Fellow central Virginian Jordan Utley, 28, of Richmond (pictured right) and Conner Hayden (Chilhowie), a 20-year-old rising junior at Radford University, both finished qualifying ay 8-under 136. Hayden returned his second consecutive round of 4-under 68 and is the No. 2 seed, while Utley logged a day two score of 2-under 70.
Northern Virginian Scott Shingler, 42, of Haymarket, the 2011 champion, fired 5-under 67, accounting for the low round of the morning, and is the fourth low qualifier for match play at 7-under 137.
Four others completed qualifying at 4-under 140: Gordonsville resident, Spring Creek member and 26-year-old Vincent Nadeau; collegian Addison Coll (Arlington), an 18-year-old rising sophomore at Ohio State University; prep Mark Lawrence Jr., 17, of Richmond, a rising senior at Mills E. Godwin High School and last week’s VSGA Junior Match Play champion; and Justin Young, 36, of Roanoke.
On day two, Ball, who started on No. 10 in the two-tee start format, shot three under on his outward half and finished off his round by snaking in a 50-foot eagle putt en route to posting the low score on the second day and earning medalist honors for the first time.
For all of the event’s history, medalist honors haven’t meant much over the past 40-plus years of VSGA Amateur. The last low qualifier to go on to claim the Amateur was Leesburg’s Billy Hurley, who triumphed in 2004 at Roanoke Country Club. Prior to that, the last medalist to win was Richmond native Lanny Wadkins, who registered a 6 and 5 victory over his brother, Bobby, at the 1970 VSGA Amateur at The Homestead’s Cascades Course.
Ball isn’t worried about the so-called ‘medalist curse,’ though.
“No matter what the tournament is, I’m always trying to be the low man—whether it’s stroke play or match play, medalist or not,” Ball said.
He’s defied the record books before—as a junior golfer, he won four junior championships conducted by the VSGA, an unprecedented feat. And he enters the summer playing well after leading VCU in stroke average as a sophomore. Ball says his strategy won’t chance once match play—and a whole new event, of sorts, begins given the uncertainties inherent in match play.
“It’s going to be the same as the last two days,” Ball said. “I’ve been going out and trying to make as many birdies as possible and the course is allowing for that. I’m going to play as aggressively as I have been and make as many birdies as I can.
“That’s the thing about match play: It’s fun and you’re not really worried if you have a bad hole. You’re just going out and trying to birdie every hole and make the lowest score possible. That also puts me in a good mindset to make a lot of birdies, so I’m excited.”
Ball experienced part of Brinson Paolini’s tidal wave of wins from 2008-13. Paolini, the former amateur from Virginia Beach claimed four titles in six years, culminating with his victory last year at The Homestead’s Cascades Course. Paolini has since turned professional and is competing on the European Tour. On the VSGA Amateur stage, Ball seems as likely a player as any to contend for the crown in the post-Paolini era.
“Coming to this golf course—I love it. I’ve played well here. It’s been a good few days so far,” Ball said. “Brinson is a great golfer and has accomplished a lot. I’m going to take it one step at a time and not got ahead of myself.”
Hayden shot four under on the first nine, played consistently and right to his fairways and greens game plan, hitting 17 of 18 greens regulation. He made match play for a third time, having advanced to the round of 16 at the 2012 championship at The Virginian Golf Club in Bristol, his home course. He’s still looking for some name recognition—literally; most people spell his first name incorrectly—‘Connor’ with an ‘o-r’ at the end—rather than how it is actually spelled—concluding with an ‘e-r.’ If he wins, he hopes everyone knows.
“We’d make sure of that,” Hayden said with a laugh.
Utley was three over par through 10 holes, but turned things around by registering five birdies in a seven-hole stretch, including three straight from Nos. 11-13 that started the surge before adding two more at Nos. 16 and 17. Each of his birdies came inside 15 feet. Utley is no stranger to the VSGA Amateur stage, having reached the semifinals in 2006 and 2008, where he fell to the eventual champion both years.
Since, he earned his degree from the University of Richmond in 2008, finished graduate school at the University of Virginia a year later, married, continued his career in the field of accounting—and become a working man’s amateur. He competed in the VSGA Amateur last year for the first time since 2009. These days, Utley, the director of finance at Independence Golf Club, can almost walk right out the door after work and practice or play the club’s Short Course when time and his schedule allows. He’s showing few signs of competitive rust.
“I never really needed a whole lot of practice, but now if I can get in an hour and a half (of practice) or play the par-3 (course at Independence), that’s a huge benefit,” Utley said. “Even though I haven’t played a whole lot of competitive golf, I’ve been more active and practiced more. It’s not like I was coming out completely cold.”
His expectations the rest of the way?
“I’ve played two really good rounds and I’m very happy with how I played,” Utley said. “I feel like I have some unfinished business. It’s been several years since I’ve played and been competitive in this tournament. I’d like to get one of these. It’s hard to tell after two rounds. There’s a lot of good golfers and I’m going to facing one (Thursday). Yes, I’m very pleased with how I’ve played, but you don’t want to lose in the first round. It’s kind of the Tiger Woods rule: Whenever you show up, you want to win and that’s kind of how I feel.”
Complementing solid ball striking with a sound putting round, Shingler ran off five straight birdies from Nos. 9-13, with his longest birdie make in that stretch was a 15-footer at the par-4 10th hole. The other four were inside five feet. He also played the layout’s four par 5s in three under par.
“I went out early and was fortunate enough to take advantage of the greens, which were perfect,” Shingler said. “I put the ball in the fairway and was fortunate enough to get some good numbers with my irons. I had some good yardages, was able to execute the shots and make the putts.”
Having won three years ago at The Virginian, Shingler knows all about the grind of match play, which includes two matches a day leading up to the 36-hole final.
“It’s a like a two-part tournament. It’s a whole new ballgame (Thursday),” Shingler said. “If you make match play, you’re playing well, so anybody you draw can potentially be dangerous because they’re playing well. That’s why they made [match play].”
Shingler was one of three past champions to make match play. The others are two-time winner Keith Decker, 54, of Martinsville (victor in 2008 and 2011) and 2012 champion Jake Mondy, 21, of Blacksburg. Mondy, a rising junior at Auburn University, was outside the top 32 following a first day 75, but answered with 69 on the second day. Former runners-up Ji Soo Park, a 21-year-old rising senior at the University of Virginia, and event veteran Buck Brittain, 47, of Tazewell qualified for match play. Park reached the final in 2011 and 2013, while Brittain was in the championship match in 2012 against Mondy.
At the conclusion of stroke play qualifying, five competitors at 2-over 146 vied for three spots in the match play field in extra holes. Northern Virginian Alec Kormanec, 23, of Vienna, Alex Thompson, 20, of Richmond (Collegiate School graduate and a rising sophomore at High Point University in North Carolina) and John Dawson, 22, of Chesapeake advanced to the match play portion of the championship.
Both the first and second rounds of match play are set for Thursday, June 26, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday, June 27 and the scheduled 36-hole final on Saturday, June 28.
GORDONSVILLE –– Results from the second round of stroke play qualifying at the 101st VSGA Amateur Championship at Spring Creek Golf Club (7,103 yards, par 36-36—72) on Wednesday, June 25.
Adam Ball (Richmond), 66-66—132
Jordan Utley (Richmond), 66-70—136
Conner Hayden (Chilhowie), 68-68—136
Scott Shingler (Haymarket), 71-67—138
Vincent Nadeau (Gordonsville), 70-70—140
Addison Coll (Arlington), 68-72—140
Mark Lawrence Jr. (Richmond), 70-70—140
Justin Young (Roanoke), 69-71—140
Ryan Rettberg (Front Royal), 71-70—141
Ji Soo Park (Clifton), 69-72—141
Jack Wilkes (Roanoke), 72-70—142
Jimmy Delp (Arlington), 73-69—142
Kevin Yerks (Leesburg), 73-70—143
Brian Bassett (Charlottesville), 75-68—143
Doc Schulte (Haymarket), 72-71—143
Brantley Kushner (Leesburg), 72-71—143
Bryce Chalkley (Richmond), 72-72—144
Aaron Eckstein (Salem), 72-72—144
Nick Tremps (Williamsburg), 74-70—144
Keith Decker (Martinsville), 70-74—144
Jake Mondy (Blacksburg), 75-69—144
Robert Bradshaw (Virginia Beach), 71-74—145
Buck Brittain (Tazewell), 71-74—145
Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg), 70-75—145
Griffin Clark (South Chesterfield), 70-75—145
Brad Ferguson (Gordonsville), 73-72—145
Charlie Musto (Sterling), 72-73—145
Kevin Clarke (Midlothian), 76-69—145
Nathan Chuwait (Herndon), 75-70—145
* – Alec Kormanec (Vienna), 72-74—146
* – John Dawson (Chesapeake), 75-71—146
* – Alex Thompson (Richmond), 74-72—146
-DID NOT QUALIFY FOR MATCH PLAY-
Roger Derflinger (Alexandria), 70-76—146
T.J. Austin (Beaverdam), 72-74—146
Lee Fisher (Lynchburg), 71-76—147
Taylor Chamberlin (Arlington), 76-71—147
Clayton Forren (Rustburg), 73-74—147
Jack Adkins (Martinsville), 77-71—148
Blake Carter (Bassett), 75-73—148
John Rosenstock (Midlothian), 70-78—148
Jeff Newman (Midlothian), 74-74—148
Kyle Hart (Midlothian), 74-74—148
Chad Jones (Henrico), 74-74—148
James Gallagher (Yorktown), 76-73—149
Ryan Patrick (Reston), 76-73—149
Joey Lane (Great Falls), 74-75—149
Erik Dulik (Great Falls), 76-73—149
Matthew Gutowski (Midlothian), 74-75—149
Alex Lloyd (Virginia Beach), 73-77—150
Philip Mahone (Charlottesville), 77-73—150
David Tolley (Roanoke), 75-75—150
Mike Sweeney II (Chesapeake), 76-74—150
Sam Sikes (Richmond), 70-80—150
Sam Stilwell (Potomac Falls), 78-72—150
Mike Krulich (Blacksburg), 74-77—151
Zach Weaver (Williamsburg), 75-76—151
Adam Houck (Richmond), 76-75—151
Greg Gerczak (Richmond), 73-78—151
Zack Lauzon (Woodbridge), 78-73—151
Will Byrne (McLean), 78-73—151
Matthew Brittain (Ashburn), 75-76—151
Joey Jordan (Glen Allen), 77-74—151
Wonsuk Rhee (Vienna), 73-78—151
Steve Serrao (Midlothian), 74-78—152
Paul Babashanian (Chesapeake), 77-75—152
Tom Wharton (Stafford), 73-79—152
Tyler Satorius (Annandale), 78-74—152
Adam Szwed (Woodbridge), 74-78—152
Wes Smith (Virginia Beach), 76-77—153
Zack Henry (Front Royal), 78-75—153
Ben Beach (Glen Allen), 76-77—153
Ryan Douglass (Leesburg), 74-79—153
Brandon Grogan (Martinsville), 79-75—154
Jeffrey Klatt (Manassas), 77-77—154
Matthew DiSalvo (Great Falls), 78-76—154
Alston Newsom (Chesapeake), 76-78—154
Scott Reisenweaver (Midlothian), 75-79—154
Ray Dingledine IV (Richmond), 78-77—155
Kyle Mutter (Portsmouth), 77-78—155
Nathan Dean (Williamsburg), 81-75—156
Robbie Failes (Harrisonburg), 80-76—156
Logan Yates (Ruckersville), 76-80—156
Kevin Dillard (McLean), 79-77—156
Shelby Seamster (Midlothian), 77-79—156
Parker Wingfield (Newport News), 78-79—157
Matt Paciocco (Glen Allen), 77-80—157
Edric Wung (Mclean), 77-80—157
Korey Watts (Buchanan), 84-74—158
Phil McQuitty (South Riding), 77-81—158
Ryan N. Muthiora (Zion Crossroads), 79-79—158
Charlie Wills (Charlottesville), 77-82—159
Jeff Fleishman (Williamsburg), 80-79—159
Austin Morin (Virginia Beach), 81-78—159
Jacob Laughlin (Massanutten), 79-80—159
Scott Cornwell (Marshall), 83-77—160
Frankie Smith Jr. (Lynchburg), 80-80—160
Luke Malanchuk (Arlington), 77-83—160
Nicholas Bruner (Virginia Beach), 76-84—160
Sam Early (Leesburg), 84-76—160
John David Sanderson (Suffolk), 80-81—161
Blake Forst (Haymarket), 81-80—161
John Kinder (Quinton), 78-83—161
Tony Good (Glen Allen), 83-79—162
Jake Miles (Spotsylvania), 79-83—162
Steven Decker (Chesapeake), 80-82—162
Shaun Griffith (Ringgold), 82-80—162
Christopher Drost (Charlottesville), 77-85—162
David Price (Purcellville), 81-82—163
Parker See (Verona), 81-83—164
Jeremy Horn (Doswell), 79-86—165
Wesley Smith (Martinsville), 85-81—166
Andrew Butts (Salem), 81-85—166
Steve Nolin (Herndon), 82-84—166
Brodie Maitland (Petersburg), 80-86—166
Matt Angelelli (Virginia Beach), 79-88—167
Joshua Curtas (Lynchburg), 83-84—167
Brian Therrien (Fredericksburg), 82-85—167
Nick Combs (Virginia Beach), 80-88—168
Roland Beights (Afton), 84-84—168
Garrett Sweeney (Salem), 81-90—171
Kenneth Van Wyck (Sterling), 83-88—171
Dalton Taylor (Falls Church), 90-90—180
Christopher Angelelli (Virginia Beach), 89-92—181
Josh Kanney (Waynesboro), 88-100—188
Bowen Sargent (Charlottesville), 72-WD
Nicholas Crowe (Williamsburg), 84-WD
Jason Dunn (Chantilly), 84-WD
Thomas Garner (Richmond), 79-WD
Bob Ramsey (Bluefield), 82-WD
Pete Detemple (Callaway), 78-WD
Clark Taylor (Richmond), 82-WD
He Zhao (Richmond), 87-WD
* – denotes qualified for match play in extra holes, five golfers for three spots
GORDONSVILLE –– Pairings and starting times for the first round of match play at the 101st VSGA Amateur Championship at Spring Creek Golf Club (7,103 yards, par 36-36—72) on Thursday, June 26 (stroke play qualifying score indicated).
7:30 a.m.: (1) Adam Ball (Richmond), 132 vs. (32) John Dawson (Chesapeake), 146
7:38 a.m.: (16) Doc Schulte (Haymarket), 143 vs. (17) Bryce Chalkley (Richmond), 144
7:46 a.m.: (8) Addison Coll (Arlington), 140 vs. (25) Charlie Musto (Sterling), 145
7:54 a.m.: (9) Ji Soo Park (Clifton), 141 vs. (24) Robert Bradshaw (Virginia Beach), 145
8:02 a.m.: (4) Scott Shingler (Haymarket), 138 vs. (29) Brad Ferguson (Gordonsville), 145
8:10 a.m.: (13) Brantley Kushner (Leesburg), 143 vs. (20) Nick Tremps (Williamsburg), 144
8:18 a.m.: (5) Justin Young (Roanoke), 140 vs. (28) Nathan Chuwait (Herndon), 145
8:26 a.m.: (12) Jimmy Delp (Arlington), 142 vs. (21) Jake Mondy (Blacksburg), 144
8:34 a.m.: (2) Conner Hayden (Chilhowie), 136 vs. (31) Alex Thompson (Richmond), 146
8:42 a.m.: (15) Brian Bassett (Charlottesville), 143 vs. (18) Keith Decker (Martinsville), 144
8:50 a.m.: (7) Vincent Nadeau (Gordonsville), 140 vs. (26) Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg), 145
8:58 a.m.: (10) Ryan Rettberg (Front Royal), 141 vs. (23) Griffin Clark (South Chesterfield), 145
9:06 a.m.: (3) Jordan Utley (Richmond), 136 vs. (30) Alec Kormanec (Vienna), 146
9:14 a.m.: (14) Kevin Yerks (Leesburg), 143 vs. (19) Aaron Eckstein (Salem), 144
9:22 a.m.: (6) Mark Lawrence Jr. (Richmond), 140 vs. (27) Buck Brittain (Tazewell), 145
9:30 a.m.: (11) Jack Wilkes (Roanoke), 142 vs. (22) Kevin Clarke (Midlothian), 145