Cooper gains new ground

Published 6:14 pm Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy golf star and alumnus Keith Cooper recently concluded his longest run ever in the Virginia State Golf Association Junior Match Play Championship that took place at Princess Anne Country Club.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Cooper, who noted he has been trying for years to get past the qualifying rounds and into the match play portion of the event, succeeding or the first time this year.

He reached the quarterfinals of match play before falling to two-time defending champion Mark Lawrence Jr. of Richmond, who went on to win the event for a third time later in the week.


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The event, now in its 25th year, features two qualifying rounds of stroke play to narrow the field to the top 16 golfers.

Cooper shot a three-over-par 73 on June 23, the first day of play.

“It was the first time I saw the course,” he said, adding that he tried to play conservatively enough to have shots into the green.

He improved on the second day, shooting a three-under 67. His two-day even-par score of 140 put him in a three-way tie for sixth place, and he earned a No. 8 seed among the 16 remaining players.

In the first round of match play on June 25, Cooper defeated No. 9-seed Fitz Woodrow after 19 holes of play.

“I was up two through 16 holes, and I feel like I should have closed it off, but I didn’t,” Cooper said.

Woodrow birdied 16 and 18 which helped him stay alive, but on the 19th hole of play, he pulled it left out of bounds, Cooper said.

Later in the day against Lawrence, Cooper lost the 14th hole of play, giving Lawrence an unbeatable 5-up lead, which ended the match.

But Cooper said he felt good about his play against Lawrence.

“I could keep up with him for the most part,” he said. “His firepower was just too much for me in the middle of the round.”