Two juniors card 66 at Nansemond River
Adam Ball and Korey Watts fired six-under-par rounds of 66 in Wednesday’s final round of stroke play in the VSGA (Virginia State Golf Association) Junior Match Play Championship at Nansemond River Golf Club.
For Ball, his outstanding round built on excellent play on Tuesday when he was one of four players on top of the leaderboard with a 69.
For Watts, going six-under-par was a matter of advancing in the tournament after he opened with a 76 on Tuesday. It turned out Watts was three strokes clear of the cut line, the top 16 golfers after the second round advanced to the match play portion of the tournament, but he wasn’t sure he would be fine as he was out on the course.
“I knew today I really needed to go for broke. I was just glad I went as low as I did,” said Watts, who’s from Fincastle.
Watts started his round on No. 10 and birdied Nos. 10, 12, 16 and 17 to shoot 32 on the back nine. He continued with birdies on Nos. 4 and 6, making it five of his six birdies on par fours.
With all the red numbers, Watts said a five-foot putt for par on No. 7 (his 16th hole of the day) was his highlight.
“It just kept my round going. It helped me make sure I didn’t lose my focus,” Watts said.
Watts remembered a couple rounds of 69, but that was the closest score he recalled compared to what he turned in Wednesday.
Even at four-under-par on his round and even-par overall at the turn, Watts said he was thinking even-par might be low enough to qualify, but he thought he’d need to get to two- or three-under overall just in case.
“I figured it would be around even, but I didn’t want to give myself any playoff pressure to deal with,” Watts said.
Ball, of Richmond, started out with birdies on Nos. 1, 3 and 5.
“I made a 10-foot birdie putt on one and that gave me confidence with my putter throughout the day,” Ball said.
Ball, 16, finished with seven birdies and one bogey. On the back nine, he rolled off three straight birdies, on the par-five 13th and on 14 and 15, both par fours.
“As of late, I wasn’t playing that well. I was hoping to just find a way to make the cut. Yesterday gave me a lot of confidence and today I came out and kept playing well,” Ball said.
“If I can hit the ball like I have the last two days, I should be in good shape,” Ball said. Ball said he hit 16 of the 18 greens in regulation during his 66.
Ball’s two-round total of 135 (9-under) put him six strokes ahead of the field. Chesapeake’s Ashton Newsom, with rounds of 71 and 70, will be the No. 2 seed when match play starts Thursday morning.
Newsom birdied five holes in all versus a bogey on No. 6 and a double bogey on No. 17. Newsom birdied, Nos. 3, 13 and 18, three of Nansemond River’s four par fives.
Dylan Jensen, of Ridgeway, and Alex Taylor, of Roanoke, won the last two spots into the match play bracket by winning a five-way playoff at 145 (1-over).
John David Sanderson and Preston Leigh, both of Suffolk, made it through Tuesday’s first round but couldn’t make up enough ground to make the top 16 and continue on.
Sanderson shot 75 Wednesday to finish seven-over-par. Leigh shot 77 to finish 11-over.
The round of 16 starts with tee times on No. 1 at 8 a.m. Thursday. The quarterfinal matches will be played Thursday afternoon.
Through the two days of stroke play, the average round at Nansemond River is 76.6. Two holes, Nos. 3 and 18, both par fives, have played under par. No. 18 is the easiest hole on the course with a 4.781 average.
The three most difficult holes are all par fours. No. 17 is the third-toughest hole at 4.479 strokes per player. No. 8 is second toughest at 4.562 strokes. No. 5 is the most difficult, averaging 4.580 strokes.