Bryan Gunter Memorial

Posted: August 14, 2015

By ROBERT NIEDZWIECKI
The Winchester Star

FRONT ROYAL — Sherando has done a pretty good job so far showing that it’s a better golf team than last year, and Thursday was the best example of that yet.

The Warriors recorded a four-player score of 295 on the Blue and White nines at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club to take the lead after the first round of the 28th annual Bryan Gunter Memorial Golf Tournament.

Wright said if he’s had a team shoot under 300 during his 15 years as coach, he can’t remember it.

“I’m really proud of them,” Wright said. “It was a terrific team effort all the way around.”

It’s going to take another one today to win the Gunter, because the Warriors weren’t the only ones on fire Thursday.

Despite not having the services of senior Brandon Weaver — the 2014 Group 3A state champion who won the Gunter last year and captured the Curly Licklider Invitational at SVGC for the second straight year last week — defending champion Loudoun Valley sits just one stroke back of Sherando in the 12-team tournament with a 296. Washington (W.Va.) is in third (301), and Centreville is fourth (304).

Led by Loudoun Valley’s Ryan Hammer — who shot a 4-under-par 67 — each of those four schools has at least one golfer within four shots of the individual lead heading into today’s second round at Winchester Country Club, which begins at 8:30 a.m.

Centreville’s Yoojin Kim — the 2013 Gunter co-champion with Sherando’s Brett Loy — is in second with a 69, and Loy is in third with a 70. Washington’s Ryan Fleming (tied for fourth with a 71 with three other golfers, including Sherando senior Josh Hogue) will be paired in the same group as the three leaders. Weaver isn’t defending his title because he’s competing in a American Junior Golf Association tournament in Powhatan.

James Wood was the second-highest finisher among local schools Thursday and is in eighth place overall (330). Millbrook is ninth (346) and Handley is 11th (371).

While Wright probably couldn’t have predicted a 295, he said Sherando’s last two performances are right in line with what he expects from his team. On Tuesday, Sherando won the Northwestern District mini played on the Red and White nines at SVGC with a 311.

“They’re shooting more of what they’re capable of,” said Wright, whose other counting scores came from junior Jonah Pearson (74) and senior Mason Scott (80).

Wright was particularly impressed with Hogue, who started on Blue No. 6 in the shotgun format. White shot a 2-under on the Blue holes after never having shot par on them previously in competition. All three of his birdies Thursday came on the Blue nine.

“I birdied both the [Blue] Par-5s,” Hogue said. “Par-5s are my favorite. I usually do well off the tee, so if I can just put two good shots together that’s always a good scoring opportunity.”

Hogue’s performance came one day after he was given the day off while the rest of the team practiced at SVGC. Hogue shot an 85 on Tuesday.

“We just wanted him to get away from golf a little bit,” Wright said. “We practiced 18 holes Monday [at WCC], played a 18 hole-match Tuesday, then we had 18 [Thursday] and we have 18 [today]. Sometimes you need a little time off, and I think it served him well.

“He recovered very well today, and that’s a sign of maturity. He was very consistent, and if he did have a bad hole, he came back with a strong one.”

Loy continued his impressive season by shooting under par for the third time in three tournaments, but he felt he could have gone a lot lower.

“I’ve been playing pretty consistently, and I’m starting to strike the ball pretty well,” Loy said. “I’ve just got to find a day where everything clicks, and I just didn’t putt very well. I was struggling with the speed of the putts and blowing everything by the hole, leaving tough comeback putts.”

Loy’s still in a good position to win the individual title. As far as the team competition, Sherando’s been in this situation before.

A year ago, the Warriors also held a one-shot lead heading into the second round at the WCC. But Loudoun Valley overcame a three-stroke deficit and outshot the Warriors by 16 strokes (311 to 327), and Sherando settled for third.

“We went out and tried too hard to win last year,” Loy said. “We’ve just got to do our thing [today], and we’ll have a good chance.”

James Wood was led on Thursday by Ben Marsh (79), Hunter Hall (80) and Zac DeNitto (84).

“Our goal was to shoot 325, but my kids typically struggle on the Blue compared to the Red and White,” Colonels coach David Oates said. “We would have liked to have been a little bit lower, because today was perfect conditions, but we were still within a few strokes of our goal.”

Marsh improved by six strokes from Tuesday to lead the Colonels.

“[Marsh] is just a grinder,” Oates said. “He’s one of those kids that if he has a bad hole, when he gets to the next tee he doesn’t even remember it. He’s just a player who figures out how to get it in the hole.”

Millbrook was paced on Thursday by Ryan McCarty (83), Andy Kim (86) and Amanda Hayton (86), and Colleen Connolly shot an 86 to lead Handley.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1

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