History, and a great tournament

Published 3:12 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Perhaps the only thing better than seeing history being made on the 18th green at Cedar Point Country Club this weekend would have been to have seen a Suffolk golfer in the top position on the scoreboard at the end of the day.

Alas, it was not to be for 16-year-old John David Sanderson, who squeaked into a slot on the 96th annual Virginia State Golf Association State Amateur Championship but found himself unable to overcome stiff competition by young players from across the commonwealth.

Sanderson had a tough start to the tournament, despite the fact that he was playing on his home course. He was never able to get close to the leaders, and those on hand to root for the hometown boy were left to find drama elsewhere on the course.

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There turned out to be plenty of drama to enjoy, as Cox High School graduate Brinson Paolini battled his way back from a five-hole deficit on the final day to beat his best friend, 21-year-old Lanto Griffin. The win put Paolini in the history books as the youngest player ever to win back-to-back state amateur titles in Virginia.

With the friendship the final two players share — they stayed together the last couple of nights of the tournament — and the possibility of a history-making moment, those who braved the heat at Cedar Point were rewarded for their perseverance. In the end, they saw a gracious young man loft his new trophy.

“This definitely was the toughest to win,” Paolini said, comparing this victory to his high school state title and last year’s State Amateur. “Playing against my best friend, my heart bleeds for Lanto. He deserved this.”

He also had high praise for Cedar Point Country Club and its members and staff, complimenting them on the condition of their course and thanking the club for its hard work and the spectators for turning out.

All in all, it was a successful event and yet another feather in Suffolk’s cap.