Colonels' Mounts ties for second in district mini

By JIM LAISE | Special to The Winchester Star

FRONT ROYAL — Two short years ago at the Winchester Country Club, James Wood High School coach David Oates said No. 1 golfer Tyler Mounts acted “like his dog had died.”

Mounts, then a sophomore, had just shot a 102.

“He was out there early in his career playing at his own club,” Oates said. “It hit him hard.”

Spring forward two years and there was Mounts on Tuesday. Now a senior, his 1-over 72 over 18 holes at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club was the area’s best score in the Class 4 Northwestern District mini-match.

Mounts, playing for the first time this season in scholastic competition, tied Fauquier High School’s Bryce Leazer for second low medalist behind Kettle Run’s Reece Massei (71) and one shot better than Massei-teammate Hunter Anderson’s 73.

Fauquier took the team title (315) ahead of Kettle Run (317), Sherando (333), Wood (338), Handley (354), Millbrook (390) and Liberty-Bealeton (420).

The team tournament—the first of two Northwestern minis to be played this year — scoreboard was led by each of the squad’s best four scores. Individual titles were by low gross.

Several of these teams will meet again today on this same Front Royal layout in the first round of the Bryan Gunter Memorial Tournament.

Seven teams participated in the larger school Northwestern tournament, including Fauquier, Kettle Run and Liberty—new to the league this season.

Mounts, who did not play in last week’s Curly Licklider tournament season opener, finished sixth here a year ago, carding an 84.

Playing the white and blue tees — the course’s longest to the green — Mounts said he played well, “but there are always a couple of things you can do better,” he said.

“I thought overall, today, my tee-shots were good. I hit nine of the 14 [longest fairways] with my drives and then putted fairly well.”

Mounts birdied one hole, bogeyed two and earned par for the rest.

“I missed a three-footer on No. 2 which would have given me a birdie,” Mounts said.

“Mentally he understands what it takes to score. Now he’s working on his consistency. At some point, he’ll get to the point where he’s almost willing the ball into the hole. Good golfers do that,” added Oates.

Even though this was Mounts’ first match of the season, he has been playing daily this summer. The only thing about this first district mini—played under ideal conditions — was that it was an official tournament.

“I’ve been out just about every day anyway,” Mounts said.

“Tyler and Jackson [Lynch, who scored an 88] have been playing pretty well early,” Oates said. “We’re trying to use the Sherando model where you have one or two really good golfers and then the rest fall in behind.”

The model has certainly worked for the Warriors, whose 333 was the best score among the four Winchester-Frederick County teams. It was the second straight tournament in which Sherando had the low score among local participants. It finished with the low-ball score at the Curly Licklider.

Sherando coach Rob Wright, in his 17th season, has been The Winchester Star Coach of the Year for three consecutive years, and Wright has enjoyed the area’s best player — the departed Brett Loy — for four straight go-arounds.

Loy, Josh Bianco and others led the Warriors’ to the conference championship a year ago. Loy will soon be playing at Longwood University.

Brandon Nice carded an 80 to lead the Warriors, followed by Ryan Judy’s 81. Caleb Dotson, Parker Gregg and Evan Simmons all carded 86s. It was the second straight match that the Warriors had four golfers shoot 86 or better.

Nice finished seven shots better than his Curly Licklider score, while Judy’s score was his best performance at this club during his high-school career.

Judy, whose 86 earned him ninth place in the first mini in 2016, was on a torrid pace through most of the summer, but saw his scores rise in the weeks leading up to the high-school season. He said he got out and played other courses in the Shenandoah Valley to improve his game. He said it has been on the upswing since.

“Two or three holes I missed the green [in regulation],” Judy said. “On nine [blue] I was on in three, but four-putted. My accuracy into the greens is not as good as I would like it.”

The senior is just pleased to be participating.

Two years ago, physicians discovered a benign tumor in Judy’s brain. The current senior had surgery on Feb. 25, 2015, and has been recovering ever since.

“I’ve just wanted to get back stronger and healthier than ever,” he said.

 

Based on what he has been through health-wise, certainly the senior is ready to lead the Warriors with Nice.

“There’s a certain amount of expectations you have when you play here, but I don’t try to be Brett [Loy] ’cause I’m not Brett,” Judy said. “I just try to do the best I can.”

Three Handley Judges scored individually better than at the Licklider, including Cody Williams, who went from 93 to 86, Brennan Smith (94 to 90) and Andrew McIntyre (from 97 to 87).

“So, there’s that,” said Judges’ first year coach Troy Mezzatesta. “We three-putted on 13 holes, so, at least we know what we need to work on.

“Andrew [McIntyre] is playing at number five right now, but he’s a good competitor and a good athlete, so we think he will improve.”

The Judges remain without returning golfer Gregg Burton, who is recovering from a wrist injury.

Fifth-year Millbrook coach Mark Manspile entered among the area’s youngest teams.

Nick Varcadipane carded a team-low 93 for the Pioneers, who included senior Evan Argiro (95), freshman Tyler McGuire (96) and sophomore David Allemong and senior Connor Tavenner, each of whom carded a 106.

This mini was the second of three legs it will take to determine which of the Northwestern teams will get into the regional playoffs.

The first seed will be determined by the Licklider and two mini-tournaments. The third leg occurs next week at Fauquier Springs County Club.

The first-place team will be the one with the best average finish among in the three tournaments.

For instance, after the first leg, Sherando and Fauquier had earned 1.5 points; then came Kettle Run (3), Handley (4) and James Wood (5).

The region’s second and third entries will come from placements in the regular-season Northwestern District golf tournament.

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