Wood Golfers Edge Sherando At NWD Mini

Posted: August 23, 2013
By GREG BRILL
Special to The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — James Wood golf coach David Oates pretty much summed up the high scores most everyone put up during Thursday’s third Northwestern District mini tournament to one thing — fatigue.

A very active start to the season, that has seen plenty of rounds played over different courses and during the warm afternoon hours, can eventually present problems to even the most consistent of golfers.

The Colonels came through though to win their second district mini in three days, posting a 329 at Rock Harbor Golf Club Thursday to nip Sherando by four strokes.

“It’s an ugly win, but it’s still a win,” Oates said. “Personally, I think my kids — and a lot of the kids — were just mentally fatigued. They’ve played four competitive rounds in the last week and I just think they hit the wall today.”

Sherando coach Rob Wright saw his club close the gap well against James Wood, with the Warriors improving their margin nine strokes from where they finished behind the Colonels on Tuesday at Winchester Country Club. Still, Wright could see his young team (no seniors and just two juniors) playing a bit tired at times and getting down on themselves if one hole did not play out as well as they might have hoped.

“They’re letting one bad hole frustrate them for two or three holes,” Wright said. “I think it’s [due to] both [fatigue and youth]. They always want to come out and shoot their best, then all of sudden to have a bad hole, they think their whole round’s blown. Which, it’s not.

“Like today, I caught up with everybody after the sixth hole and I said, ‘Hey, you’ve still got 12 holes left.’ Very easily, you can make up [your score] from there. But you really have to think fatigue had something to do with [the high scores].”

Only two golfers shot under 80 on the par-72 blue course at Rock Harbor (36 on each side), with Sherando freshman Brett Loy continuing to make an impression in his first month at the high school level. Loy took medalist honors Thursday with a two-over 74, which was four strokes better than James Wood senior Will Holmes.

The two have already developed a competitive rivalry, with Holmes taking medalist on Tuesday in the second district mini at Winchester Country Club by one stroke over Loy.

“[Loy’s] just consistent, I mean, he does not make many mistakes,” said Holmes, the reigning Northwestern District Player of the Year. “He just hits greens and makes putts. He’s consistent.”

A sometimes sluggish front nine (when he bogeyed five, six, and nine) left Loy three-over heading to the back, but a strong finish pushed him to record the best round of the day. Loy had birdies on back-to-back holes (15, 16) and he reached at least par on every hole except for 18.

In particular, the short game worked the best for Loy.

“My putting was very good — I didn’t have one three-putt,” Loy said. “My long-iron game was terrible. I kept swinging it too fast and hooking it. I tried to slow it down at the end. But chipping and putting worked well for me. I felt pretty comfortable with the way I closed today.”

Holmes, likewise, felt his putting kept his round competitive. But getting solid drives to work was sometimes hit and miss.

“I was putting really well, I mean, my short game was solid,” said Holmes, who recorded one birdie (8) during his round of 78. “I just wasn’t hitting good drives off the tee. The last few weeks have been focused on putting, because that’s been my Achilles’ heel. I kind of neglected my drives. Everything was just a little bit [driven] right.”

Millbrook again found itself in the middle of the pack, placing third (345). Handley (361) was next and Skyline (395) closed out the group.

For James Wood, Roger Repasky (81) was again a solid second finisher and Hunter Hall (84) brought in the third card. Noah Keller (86) rounded out the scoring, taking the place of Peyton Crickman (who was the fourth counting score on Tuesday) this time.

“We just want to keep getting better,” Holmes said. “It’s really about trying to get below 315 as the team score, and that’s the number we’re trying to beat. We’re almost there. We just need to get [more of] a consistent fourth score.”

Even though he saw some strokes left out on the course, Oates liked how his team bounced back late and closed their rounds strongly on the last few holes.

“The thing that impressed me the most about the team was I think we were in real trouble after 11 or 12 holes in the match, but across the board, every one of those kids really played well the last six, seven, eight holes,” Oates said. “I think that’s what carried us through today.

“Even my five and six guys, who had terrible front nines, really played well on their second nine.”

After Loy, Sherando’s next counting card came from Jonah Pearson, who shot an 85. Mason Scott (86) and Collin Ordonez (88) completed the scoring.

Sherando has played plenty since opening in a tournament Aug. 7 at Spotswood. Now, they might get a little bit of a break with scheduled nine-hole district duals, beginning Monday at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club with James Wood.

“Of course, they love [to play],” Wright said. “They don’t know they’re getting tired, but we can [see it]. I noticed the other day [at WCC] the humidity set in and you could see them slow down a little bit.

“But today, we got [the margin with James Wood] down to four. I mean, their scores were high too. We’re young and they’re experienced. I think our guys feel like they are making strides, and that’s what we want to continue to see too. I'd like to drop 15 strokes from where we are. I always tell them that if we shoot around 320, we’ll be OK.”

James Wood will try and make it three straight against Sherando on Monday, but the ultimate goal is to do well in the new Conference 23 tournament, which the Colonels will host Sept. 24 at Rock Harbor. The top two teams in that tournament advance on to regional competition.

Oates has a month to get ready and he would like to shave some strokes from each golfers’ score by then.

“We’re going to have an extremely difficult match on Monday against Sherando,” Oates said. “I’m excited about it because their top two guys are phenomenal and my top two guys are playing great. After that, out of my six or eight guys [remaining], I've got to figure out a way in a month to — whatever their best scores are — to shave two or three strokes off each [one]. Two or three strokes is hard. That’s our focus, and of course, we want to win every one of our duals.”

Handley got an outstanding day from Scott Mikulec. Playing as the Judges’ No. 4, Mikulec came in with an 81 to tie Repasky for the third best overall score.

All of Millbrook’s counting scores were in the 80s, paced by Brian McGuire and Collin Shifflett each carding an 85. A 90 from Robbie Belanger paced Skyline.

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