Top seed upset in State Amateur

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

A day after Mikey Moyers set a new tournament record in the 36-hole, stroke-play portion of the Virginia State Golf Association State Amateur Championship at Suffolk’s Cedar Point Country Club, Virginia Commonwealth senior Lanto Griffin defeated Moyer in the second round of match play by winning four of the last five holes for a 2-up result.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, as the field was taken from 120 golfers to the 32 who made the match play bracket, Moyers shot back-to-back, six-under par 66s to break the tournament’s stroke play record by three shots.

Griffin, the 16th seed after stroke play, needed a comeback in his morning match just to move on and face Moyers. Josh Apple led Griffin by two holes with five to play before Griffin won holes 14, 17 and 18 to advance.

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Moyers had no easy task in his round of 32 match. No. 32 Weston Eklund shot one-under par and carded six birdies, including one on 16 to draw within one hole of Moyers. Moyers birdied the 18th hole to win 2-up.

Griffin led Moyers by two holes through four before Moyers birdied holes 5, 6 and 8 to gain the lead. Moyers led by two holes after hitting a long-iron approach to within four feet and birdying No. 13.

“(Moyers) made four 30-footers,” said Griffin, “two of them were from off the green. I sort of expected it because he’s putting so good.”

Moyers, 18, is the three-time defending state Junior Match Play Championship winner and is an incoming freshman at Virginia Tech.

Griffin, 21, is a rising senior at VCU and was the Colonial Athletic Association player of the year this past spring.

After both players’ drives on the par-five 14th, it looked as though Moyers could be going 3-up. Moyers was in the fairway while Griffin missed right into the rough.

Griffin found a great escape out of the trees to be even with Moyers, just short of the green, in two. Griffin got up and down with his chip to win the hole.

A par by Griffin was good enough to win the 15th, as Moyers found his own trouble off the tee and wound up with a bogey. Both players made par on the 202-yard par three 16th, but Griffin nearly took the lead as he missed an 8-foot birdie putt which would’ve taken the hole.

The twists and turns continued on 17, a par five. Moyers hit an ideal drive while Griffin missed left. Both players hit their second shots into a greenside bunker, left of the green with the pin tight to the bunker on the left side of the green.

Moyers put himself in better shape out of the sand, as Griffin had a 30-foot putt left and Moyers was 15 feet away.

“I thought it broke about a cup-and-a-half or two cups, and it was downhill so I didn’t have to worry about getting it there. I had a good feeling over it,” said Griffin.

Griffin drained the long birdie putt and Moyers missed his, giving Griffin the lead going to the final hole.

“I thought he’d make his, so I wasn’t worried about lagging it,” said Griffin.

Again, on 18, a 482-yard par four, Griffin missed his drive well left, into the fairway of the 10th hole which runs basically parallel to the 18th. Meanwhile, Moyers hit the fairway.

“I was thinking (Moyers) is in perfect position in the fairway. He’s going to make at least par,” said Griffin. “It was the only shot I had. If I hit a bad shot, we’ll go to extra holes. I just went for it and pulled it off.”

What “it” was was an incredible shot. Griffin hit a 3-iron over the tree line, clearing a pond in front of the green, which came to rest in the fringe on the back of the green, about 40 feet from the hole. Griffin said the yardage he had was 243 yards.

Moyers’ approach wound up on the fringe on the left side of the green. Griffin’s chip rolled to about three feet short of the cup. Moyers’ chip, which he practically had to make, was well short, by about 15 feet, and he missed the par putt which finished the match.

The quarterfinal and semifinal matches will be played Friday at Cedar Point, with a 36-hole championship match set for Saturday.

Virginia State Golf Association 96th Annual State Amateur Championship

At Cedar Point Country Club

Round of 32 – match play

Mikey Moyers d. Weston Eklund, 2 up

Lanto Griffin d. Josh Apple, 1 up

Scott Huneycutt d. Scott Shingler, 5 and 4

Pat Tallent d. Bryce Chalkley, 3 and 2

Ben Keefer d. Nick Austin, 20 holes

Austin Gray d. Vincent Nadeau, 2 and 1

Jerry Burton d. Tim Kelley, 19 holes

Buck Brittain d. Daniel Walker, 19 holes

Brinson Paolini d. Keith Decker, 3 and 2

Ji Soo Park d. Wes Smith, 7 and 5

Fielding Brewbaker d. Jason Copeland, 3 and 2

Scott Marino d. Allen Barber, 2 and 1

Jake Mondy d. Kyle Bailey, 2 and 1

Jordan Utley d. Evan Beck 3 and 2

Jeremy Wells d. Jeffrey Topp, 2 up

Garland Green d. Trae Kresinske, 4 and 3

Round of 16

Lanto Griffin d. Mikey Moyers, 2 up

Pat Tallent d. Scott Huneycutt, 5 and 3

Ben Keefer d. Austin Gray, 20 holes

Buck Brittain d. Jerry Burton, 2 and 1

Brinson Paolini d. Ji Soo Park, 5 and 4

Fielding Brewbaker d. Scott Marino, 3 and 2

Jake Mondy d. Jordan Utley, 2 up

Garland Green d. Jeremy Wells, 3 and 2