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Semifinalists Set at the VSGA Public Links Championship

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WILLIAMSBURG –– Defending champion Jon Hurst was one of four players to advance to Sunday morning’s semifinals as match play got under way today at the 10th Virginia State Golf Association Public Links Championship being conducted at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Green Course. The event is open to bona fide public course players.

In one round of four encounter, Hurst, the stroke play medalist, will take on Justin Young (Roanoke) in a match of reinstated amateurs. On the other side of the bracket, Jimmy Delp (Arlington), the 2009 event winner, meets Ryan Nolan of Virginia Beach. True to the event’s ‘working-man’s event’ feel, the remaining four players are mid amateurs (ages 25 and over) in Hurst, 43, Young, 35, Delp, 33, and the 32-year-old Nolan.  

Three of the top four seeds moved on to the semifinals in Hurst (No. 1), Delp (No. 2) and Young (No. 4).

Hurst outlasted Dan Hosek (Alexandria) in 21 holes to open match play, draining a 15-footer at the third extra hole, the par-4 third, to stave off elimination. He played steadily in the quarterfinals against Ken Zecchini of Virginia Beach, building a four holes up lead through five before going on to notch a 4-and-3 victory.

“I got in a comfortable position—maybe a little too comfortable,” said Hurst, who estimated he was reinstated to amateur status about seven years ago. He is a member at Lee’s Hill Golf Club in Fredericksburg. “I’ll need to pick up my game a little [Sunday] because I know everyone is playing well.”

Young claimed a pair of close matches. He bested northern Virginian Jeffrey Klatt, 2 and 1 in the morning. After lunch, Young was three holes down through 11 holes to 2005 champion Jason Copeland of Virginia Beach, before rallying for a 1-up win. Young registered three consecutive par-wins at Nos. 12-14 to square the match and then won the par-4 16th hole to go 1 up after Copeland’s 5-foot par chance spun out. The won-hole signaled the first time he owned the advantage in the match and the lead held up the rest of the way.

“It wasn’t looking too good after 11 holes because Jason was playing about as well as I’d seen anyone play in a while. My future wasn’t looking too bright at that point,” Young said. “I told myself to not make mistakes and hang in there and the next thing I knew, I’d won the match. You never really want to win a match that way. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s just the way it is in match play.”

Young played the mini-tours from 2003-06. Thereafter, he took a hiatus from the game and literally didn’t touch a club for about five years before being reinstated to amateur status in 2011. That same year, he started to get reconnected to the game. He is making his first start in the Publinx a memorable one.

“I love the game and I just wanted to be able to compete again. That’s why I got my amateur status back and my wife (Heather) gave me a little push,” said Young, a member at Ole Monterey Golf Club in Roanoke. “Just to compete—that’s what it’s all about for me when it comes to golf. Even when I was 3 down after 11 today, I think that my competitive drive helped me win.”

Delp got past friend and 2006 champion Jim Nirich in the morning session, 3 and 2. Owner of a 1-up lead through 13 holes, with his opponent well inside of him at the par-4 14th, Delp drained a 25-foot par putt and Nirich misfired on his 8-footer that would’ve halved the hole. Two holes up, Delp birdied the par-5 15th from 15 feet to move to a match-high 3 up. He closed the match one hole later.

“Jim is a really good friend of mine. If I could’ve picked anyone in the field I could play, he’d be the last person I would choose because we’re such good friends,” said Delp, who plays at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton. “Sometimes it’s hard to play against a friend, but it was a big win and it felt good to win that match.”

In the quarterfinals, he was 3 up through six holes on Tom Baron (Virginia Beach), then won five of the last seven holes of the match, including the last three to roll to a 7-and-5 triumph. After being eliminated in the first round, Hosek turned around and caddied for Delp.

“Having him on the bag was a big plus,” Delp said. “To have someone to talk to, joke around with between shots really helps out. He kept me relaxed.” 

Both of Nolan’s matches went to the late moments. The area golfer edged Tom Wharton (Stafford), 2 up to open match play. Nolan went on to post a 2-and-1 victory over Jacek Wolicki (Charlottesville) in the round of eight.

He had his wife, Sarah, on the bag in the morning session.

“She definitely kept me calm in the first round,” Nolan said.

Despite a pair of close matches, Nolan, who is on active duty in the Navy, didn’t trail in either of his two encounters. Nolan, who won two of the last three holes in his morning match and held as much as a 4 up advantage through 12 holes in his afternoon encounter.

“For me, today was all about ball striking and that has served me well despite not making a lot of putts,” Nolan said. “I’m hoping the putting catches up with me [Sunday] and I can win a couple of matches.”

Both the semifinals and scheduled 18-hole final are set for Sunday.

WILLIAMSBURG –– Results from the first and quarterfinal rounds of match play at the 10th Virginia State Golf Association Public Links Championship at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Green Course (6,722 yards, par 36-36—72) on Saturday, Aug. 24 (stroke-play qualifying score indicated).

–Results from the first round of match play–
(1) Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg), 68 def. (16) Dan Hosek (Alexandria), 74, 21 holes
(8) Ken Zecchini (Virginia Beach), 73 def. (9) Quinn Boyle (Christiansburg), 73, 2 and 1
(4) Justin Young (Roanoke), 71 def. (13) Jeffrey Klatt (Manassas), 73, 2 and 1
(12) Jason Copeland (Virginia Beach), 73 def. (5) Robert Bonney III (Williamsburg), 72, 5 and 4

(2) Jimmy Delp (Arlington), 70 def. (15) Jim Nirich (Catlett), 74, 3 and 2
(10) Tom Baron (Virginia Beach), 73 def. (7) Connor Rinoski (Yorktown), 72, 4 and 3
(14) Jacek Wolicki (Charlottesville), 73 def. (3) Rives Fleming (Richmond), 71, 3 and 2
(11) Ryan Nolan (Virginia Beach), 73 def. (6) Tom Wharton (Stafford), 72, 2 up

–Results from the quarterfinal round of match play–
(1) Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg), 68 def. (8) Ken Zecchini (Virginia Beach), 73, 4 and 3
(4) Justin Young (Roanoke), 71 def. (12) Jason Copeland (Virginia Beach), 73, 1 up

(2) Jimmy Delp (Arlington), 70 def. (10) Tom Baron (Virginia Beach), 73, 7 and 5
(11) Ryan Nolan (Virginia Beach), 73 def. (14) Jacek Wolicki (Charlottesville), 73, 2 and 1

WILLIAMSBURG –– Pairings and starting times for the semifinal round of match play at the 10th Virginia State Golf Association Public Links Championship at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Green Course (6,722 yards, par 36-36—72) on Sunday, Aug. 25 (stroke-play qualifying score indicated).

ALL TIMES EDT

Sunday (Aug. 25), hole No. 1

7:30 a.m.: (1) Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg), 68 vs. (4) Justin Young (Roanoke), 71
7:40 a.m.: (2) Jimmy Delp (Arlington), 70 vs. (11) Ryan Nolan (Virginia Beach), 73