BRISTOL –– Western Virginians Brandon LaCroix (Roanoke) and Matt Chandler (Hardy) shot a scintillating opening day score of 10-under-par 61 and own a three-stroke lead over two other teams entering Saturday’s final round of the 49th Virginia State Golf Association Four-Ball Championship being conducted at The Virginian Golf Club.
LaCroix and Chandler’s next-nearest pursuers are the tandems of northern Virginian Scott Shingler (Haymarket)-Justin Young (Roanoke), as well as Lee Fisher (Lynchburg)-Barry Wirt Jr. (Roanoke), who each opened with 7-under 64. Defending champions and Charlottesville-area golfers Vincent Nadeau and Brad Ferguson, both of Gordonsville, had 65. A group of five other teams are five strokes back at 5-under 66.
Altogether on the first day, there were 21 rounds in the 60s and 25 subpar rounds among the 48 teams competing in the event.
Having played in some four-ball events in recent years, LaCroix and Chandler, both VSGA members at Hunting Hills Country Club in Roanoke, complemented each other well. Their first-round best 6-under 30 on the inward half helped them grab the lead. Chandler got things going with a tap-in birdie at No. 10 before LaCroix added birdies from close range at Nos. 12 and 14. After Chandler knocked in a 12-footer at No. 15, LaCroix holed the tandem’s longest putt of the day, a 35-footer at the par-4 17th. Chandler finished the spectacular round off with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 finishing hole.
The two are such good friends that Chandler will be in LaCroix’s wedding later this month.
”I’m getting married in two weeks and Matt is one of my best men,” LaCroix said.
On the course, Chandler knows what makes them a formidable team.
“I think we feel comfortable around each other. It’s just a relaxation thing,” he said. “I think we play free—not up tight at all and just let it go. We have confidence in each other.”
Their strategy entering the final round?
“Put on the pedal—that’s always my mindset,” said Chandler, the 2012 VSGA Mid-Amateur champion.
Added LaCroix: “We’re just not going to pay attention. If I make a bogey, I know he’s not going to be too upset and if he makes a mistake, he knows I won’t be upset. It’s a comfort thing.”
Shingler won the Four-Ball title in 2012 with Martinsville’s Keith Decker. He was partnering with Young for the first time, but they found an instant fit. They birdied five of the final seven holes—all inside 15 feet to stay in touch with the lead.
“We had a clean card (no bogeys) and that certainly helped,” said Shingler, who won the 2011 VSGA Amateur Championship at The Virginian. “We’re right where we need to be. We certainly complemented each other well today and have to keep it going [Saturday].”
Fisher-Wirt also logged 31 on the second nine. Other than Fisher’s 15-footer at No. 10, all of their birdies on the second nine—four in a six-hole span from Nos. 12-17—came from inside 10 feet.
“We hit it well on the front nine. We just didn’t make anything. Then, we got a nice little roll going,” Wirt said. ”Hopefully, we can get hot early [in the final round].
Nadeau and Ferguson combined to collect four consecutive birdies from Nos. 7-10 and added two more the rest of the way in their bid to become the event’s first repeat champions since Decker and Ryan Stinnett won back-to-back titles in 2006-07.
Among the group at five under are three of the most veteran competitors in the field. At 63, Virginian member Charles Green is the oldest player and teamed with 55-year-old Allen Barber, the third-oldest player. Williamsburg’s Dave Pulk, the second oldest at 57, partnered with mid-amateur and fellow Two Rivers Country Club member Nathan Dean.
Also at 66 are the tandem of Mark Lawrence and his son, Mark Jr., as well as Buck Brittain (Tazewell)-Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg) and the brother-brother duo of Jay Serrao III (Virginia Beach) and Steve Serrao (Midlothian).
BRISTOL –– Results following the first round of the 49th VSGA Four-Ball Championship at The Virginian Golf Club (6,997 yards, par 35-36—71) on Friday, May 9.
Brandon LaCroix (Roanoke)-Matt Chandler (Hardy), 31-30—61 Scott Shingler (Haymarket)-Justin Young (Roanoke), 33-31—64 Lee Fisher (Lynchburg)-Barry Wirt Jr. (Roanoke), 33-31—64 Vincent Nadeau (Gordonsville)-Brad Ferguson (Gordonsville), 31-34—65 Allen Barber (Yorktown)-Charles Green (Tazewell), 33-33—66 Dave Pulk (Williamsburg)-Nathan Dean (Williamsburg), 31-35—66 Mark Lawrence (Richmond)-Mark Lawrence Jr. (Richmond), 34-32—66 Buck Brittain (Tazewell)-Jon Hurst (Fredericksburg), 33-33—66 Jay Serrao III (Virginia Beach)-Steve Serrao (Midlothian), 32-34—66 Russ Fricke (Haymarket)-Thomas Fricke (Haymarket), 32-35—67 Jimmy Delp (Arlington)-Ben Keefer (Glen Allen), 35-32—67 Al Bello (Stafford)-Dave Walczak (Fredericksburg), 33-35—68 Chris Clemens (Salem)-Robbie Craft (Roanoke), 32-36—68 Chase Bailey (Roanoke)-Trevor Turner (Salem), 35-33—68 Jim Pates (Ashburn)-Kenneth Van Wyck (Sterling), 35-33—68 Brandon Burns (Reston)-Francesco Romano (Reston), 33-35—68 Jim Nirich (Catlett)-Dan Hosek (Alexandria), 34-34—68 Rich Jeremiah (Midlothian)-Todd Hoyle (Midlothian), 35-33—68 Scott Davidson (Round Hill)-Andre Vanderpost (Round Hill), 33-35—68 Kyle Bailey (Fincastle)-Marshall Bailey (Fincastle), 35-34—69 Dustin Hussey (Martinsville)-Brandon Grogan (Martinsville), 34-35—69 Matthew Brittain (Ashburn)-Alex Gibson (Abingdon), 35-34—69 Joe Cavucci (Alexandria)-Ryan Stuart (Arlington), 35-35—70 Steve Castro (Chantilly)-Craig Sabo (Alexandria), 35-35—70 Kenton Quick (Washington, D.C.)-Matt Bravo (Washington, D.C.), 36-34—70 Chris Snow (Richmond)-Peyton Lawson (Richmond), 33-38—71 Tim Krouse (Dunn Loring)-Steve Moseley (Arlington), 35-36—71 Erik Ervin (Floyd)-Tanner Bateman (Blacksburg), 35-36—71 David Schmidt (Wytheville)-Aaron Rygas (Dublin), 36-35—71 Hunter Russell (Lynchburg)-Eric Davenport (Forest), 36-35—71 Adam Houck (Richmond)-Ryan Taylor (Glen Allen), 37-34—71 Alex Perretz (Richmond)-Scott Creamer (Richmond), 36-36—72 Phillip Lamb (Arlington)-Lloyd Stephenson (Springfield), 36-36—72 Ben Campbell (Cleveland)-Luke Kinder (Tazewell), 38-34—72 Joshua Curtas (Lynchburg)-Mark Curtas (Locust Grove), 37-35—72 Doug Henson (Roanoke)-Sam Taylor (Roanoke), 36-36—72 Danny Yates (Marshall)-Dean Griffith (Front Royal), 37-36—73 Richie Jeter (Roanoke)-Jed Rasnick (Roanoke), 36-37—73 Brian Stanley (Forest)-Matthew Stanley (Forest), 36-37—73 Trey Wilburn (Abingdon)-Gary Arnold, 35-38—73 Barry Valentine (Leesburg)-Chris Laughlin (Ashburn), 38-35—73 Greg Arbacas (Annapolis)-Mike Bieler (Reston), 35-39—74 Casey Russell (Fredericksburg)-Jay Spitler (Fredericksburg), 36-38—74 Alex Titus (Annandale)-Christopher Drost (Charlottesville), 37-38—75 Brandon McKibben (Salem)-Drew Forte (Winchester), 38-37—75 Jeff Weiss (Winchester)-Tag Corrigan (Winchester), 40-35—75 Tyler Presley (Abingdon)-Caleb Roark (Abingdon), 36-39—75 Joey Watson (Bristol)-Matt Tiller (Bluefield), 39-37—76
BRISTOL–– Groupings and starting times for the final round of the 49th VSGA Four-Ball Championship at The Virginian Golf Club (6,997 yards, par 35-36—71) on Saturday, May 10.
Saturday (May 10), hole No. 1
9 a.m. – Joe Cavucci (Alexandria)-Ryan Stuart (Arlington); Steve Castro (Chantilly)-Craig Sabo (Alexandria)