Final four set at Nasemond River
The top five seeds were ousted and the two golfers who had to go through a playoff on Wednesday to continue in the tournament won their way to Friday’s final four during Thursday’s play in the VSGA (Virginia State Golf Association) Junior Match Play Championship at Nansemond River Golf Club.
Roanoke’s Alex Taylor and Ridgeway’s Dylan Jensen survived a five-player playoff at the end of Wednesday’s stroke play round. On Thursday morning, Taylor upset top-seeded Alex Ball 3 and 2 while Jensen defeated No. 2 Ashton Newsom 3 and 1.
Ball was the medalist for the two rounds of stroke play by six shots on the rest of the field, shooting rounds of 69 and 66.
Taylor led his match against Ball the whole way around after winning Nos. 1 and 3.
“I played pretty dog-gone well. It was probably the best I’ve ever played and that’s how I had to play considering who I was playing against,” Taylor said. “I was pretty nervous. I know (Ball’s) one of the best players in the state, but I think I handled it pretty well.”
In the afternoon match, a quarterfinal against Ben Meadows, Taylor led by two holes after winning No. 14. Meadows won No. 15 with a par four and won the par-three No. 16 with a two.
Taylor won No. 17 with a par as Meadows three-putted and Taylor completed the 1-up win as both players made par on the par-five No. 18.
Jensen trailed or was even with Newsom until he won No. 10 with a par four to go ahead by a hole. Jensen won the 201-yard par-three No. 11 with a par.
“When I got to 2-up through 11, I decided to keep making pars and just try to make him catch me,” Jensen said.
After Newsom won No. 14, Jensen finished out the match by winning No. 15 with a par and No. 17 with a birdie.
In the quarterfinals, Jensen prevailed in another close match, but had to rally from behind in winning 2-up against Brandon Grogan.
Grogan led by two holes through six and was still 1-up with four holes to play.
“Brandon was hitting it a lot better than I was,” Jensen said. “I had to try to hit it in there and make birdies, then he came back to me some and I didn’t expect that.”
To be fair, Jensen carded two pars and two birdies in the last four holes to flip the match around. Jensen won No. 15 with a par to tie the match. He birdied No. 17, Nansemond River’s island green, to take the lead; and then birdied No. 18 versus a par by Grogan.
Jensen made the semifinals of this tournament last summer. “I’ve played pretty well in this tournament. Hopefully I can do a little better this year,” Jensen said.
Bryce Cope defeated Jack Adkins 4 and 3 to make the semifinals. Cope, of Virginia Beach, entered the day as the No. 12 seed.
In his morning match, Cope shot 3-under par in 16 holes in defeating Trevor Times 3 and 2. Cope stormed ahead with birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to take the match from all square to 3-up.
Against Adkins, Cope took control just after the turn again. Cope led by a hole until he won No. 10 with a par four, won No. 11 with a par three and won No. 12 with a birdie three. Cope again was 3-under for his round when the match ended on No. 15.
Virginia Beach’s Alex Lloyd had the closest match and the most lopsided win of the day, but is in the semifinals all the same.
Lloyd defeated Blake Carter in 20 holes in the round of 16. Throughout all 20 holes, the match was either tied or a 1-up edge by Lloyd.
Carter won No. 18 with an eagle to force overtime. Both players made par on the par-four No. 1. Lloyd won the match with a birdie on the 144-yard No. 2.
In the afternoon, Lloyd won nine of the 13 holes he played to defeat Rick O’Connell 7 and 5. Lloyd won five straight holes, Nos. 2-6, to take control. Lloyd shot 3-under-par in the shortened round.
The semifinal matches, Taylor vs. Cope and Lloyd vs. Jensen, start at 8 a.m. Friday. The final match is scheduled for 12 p.m.