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Leaders go under par at Nansemond River

Two Suffolk golfers made it through day one of the VSGA (Virginia State Golf Association) Junior Match Play Championship as Nansemond River Golf Club played host to the tournament for the first time in the course’s 11-year history.

John David Sanderson, with a four-over-par 76, and Preston Leigh, with a 78, made it into the top 75 to go on to Wednesday’s second round of stroke play.

For both though, advancing past Wednesday, and down to the 16 players who will play in the match play portion of the tournament will be a chore. At the end of Tuesday’s round, the cut for the top 16 would’ve been at even par.

Sanderson, a Summit Christian Academy student and member at Cedar Point Country Club, birdied Nos. 4 and 18, but it wasn’t enough to offset a big part of his game that was a letdown on Tuesday.

“I three-putted the first two holes. I hit the ball well most of the way, but I didn’t putt well,” Sanderson said.

Leigh, who helped lead Greenbrier Christian to the VIS (Virginia Independent Schools) Division II state championship this spring, carded only one birdie, on the par-five ninth hole.

Sanderson sits tied for 38th after Tuesday and Leigh is tied for 58th. The top 75 and ties advanced to the second round. Suffolk’s Brett Shaw missed the cut by one stroke with a round of 82.

Among those leading the field is another Greenbrier Christian golfer, Chesapeake’s Ashton Newsom. Newsom shot 71 to be tied for sixth going into the second day of stroke play.

Newsom made three birdies and got especially hot going around the turn. On the ninth, he rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe. On the par-four 10th hole, Newsom hit his approach shot to a foot from the hole and made birdie.

“I was very happy with my round. I played very consistent today,” Newsom said.

Newsom had an early tee time, but the morning gave only a little relief from the heat he said. The main benefit from the early start is the chance to get back out on the practice range later in the day, Newsom said.

“I’ll go out later tonight, after it cools off some, and hit some practice balls and warm-up for tomorrow,” Newsom said.

“It’s a nice course. It’s definitely wide open, more than a lot of courses. Going at the greens, you have to miss to the right spots and you’ve got to putt well and I didn’t do that,” Sanderson said. “If I can putt well tomorrow, I have a lot of room for improvement, which is good because I have to go pretty low tomorrow.”

Four golfers are atop the leaderboard with three-under-par rounds of 69. All four leaders shot 35 on the front side and 34 on the back nine.

Richmond’s Adam Ball birdied No. 3 and No. 9, both par fives on the front nine, as well as three par fours, Nos. 1, 12 and 17.

Dylan Jensen of Ridgeway made only one bogey while making birdies on Nos. 1, 9, 10 and 16.

Virginia Beach’s Bryce Cope bogeyed the par-three second hole, then made nothing but pars and birdies the rest of his round. Cope birdied Nos. 3, 7, 12 and 18.

Trey Cully of Ashland made five birdies in his first 11 holes. Cully birdied Nos. 3, 4 and 10, as well as the 175-yard par-three No. 7 and the 201-yard par-three No. 11.

Alex Lloyd of Virginia Beach was the only golfer to shoot 70. Six players shot 71s.

Wednesday’s rounds start from Nos. 1 and 10 at 8 a.m. Admission any day of the tournament is free.