Local golfer voted best of state’s seniors

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 26, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Just about every time J.P. Leigh walked onto a golf course last summer, he ended up making history.

After welcoming back one of his favorite courses in the Sleepy Hole Golf Course’s rededication ceremony in May, the sales administrator of Minnesota Mountain Manufacturing headed to the Virginia State Golf Association’s (VSGA) Senior Stroke Play tournament in June at the James River Country Club and proceeded to win the tournament for the second straight year, the first golfer in 12 years to do so. That same month, he visited Hot Springs to take on the rest of the best 55-and-over golfers in the state, and splashed onto the scene by racking up a 142 in the 36-hole qualifying round, the event’s best two-day haul. Leigh proceeded to win his first three matches of the event to make it to the finals, where he lost to John Como of Richmond.

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Still in June, Leigh headed to Gettysburg, Penn. to take part in the National Senior Team Challenge (NSTC). Represent-ing Virginia with David King and Jamie Gough of northern Virginia and Tom Floyd of Culpepper, Leigh helped the state to its first-ever tournament victory.

But Leigh wasn’t taking a summer vacation; in July, he proved that experience can overcome exuberance at the State Amateur in Roanoke. The oldest competitor, taking on younger players from all over the Old Dominion, finished 10th in the qualifying round of 140 golfers to make it to match play. In other team competition, he took Virginia to a win in the Virginia-West Virginia Team Matches and the Virginias-Carolinas Team Matches. He also took part in the Senior Valentine Invitational, the David A. King Senior Legends Invitational and the Mid-Atlantic Senior Amateur Championship.

With all those accomplishments in such a short period of time, it was no wonder that the VSGA voted Leigh their Senior Player of the Year in early December. He and Female Junior honoree Lauren Doughtie represented Suffolk at the ceremony.

Leigh’s already starting on the quest for another repeat.

&uot;I try to come out here to play a few holes,&uot; he said of Sleepy Hole. &uot;I practice about twice a week, and I’ll probably start back around March.&uot; In June, Sleepy Hole is scheduled to host the Old Dominion University tournament, which raises money for Monarch golfers. Leigh has been the chair of the organization for 20 years.

He plans to return to the Senior Stroke event, which will be held in Danville this summer, as well as the State Amateur. The 2005 NSTC will be held in Phoenix, but he’d still like to go, as well as play in some national senior tournaments.