By VSGA Sunday, September 30 2012 00:00
SALEM –– Roanoke Valley area golfer Matt Chandler followed a record-setting first round with the kind of round he needed on day two.
After Chandler opened the Virginia State Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship with a scintillating 61 on Friday, believed to be the lowest single round ever recorded by an amateur in a VSGA stroke-play competition, he followed it with a solid bogey-free 3-under 68. He owns a two-stroke lead entering the event’s final round on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Hardy resident owns a 13-under 129 aggregate. His next nearest pursuer is fellow local Justin Young of Roanoke, who also returned a round two 68 a day after carding 8-under 63.
Record seven-time champion Keith Decker of Martinsville carded a day-two best 4-under 67, but like everyone else other than Young entering the second round, he was left in catch-up mode. Decker is still eight strokes off the lead at 5-under 137. Arlington’s Jimmy Delp registered his second straight 69 and is in fourth (4-under 138). Three other competitors are at 2-under 140 – Tazewell’s Buck Brittain (68), Clifton’s Jeffrey Topp (70) and Haymarket’s Scott Shingler (71), the 2010 event champion.
Starting his round on No. 10, Chandler turned in one under and added two birdies inside 8 feet on his inward nine at Nos. 1 and 6, his 10th and 15th holes of the day. After recording 10 birdies and an eagle in the first round, making may’ve seemed like a virtual dry spell, but a round of three under was enough to keep the lead.
“I didn’t have any [score] in mind starting the day. I didn’t do anything special,” Chandler said. “I didn’t really make any mistakes, but I just didn’t do anything exciting.”
A round like 61 only comes around so often, but the score has helped him stay atop the leader board.
“Sixty-one is a once-in-a-blue-moon type round, but you still try to play the best you can and see what happens,” Chandler said.
Chandler knows he’ll need to post another subpar round on a demanding layout that will still yield low scores with its soft conditions. He’ll be in the final group of three with Chandler and Decker off No. 1 at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday.
“You’re still going to have to go out and shoot a number,” said Chandler, a former developmental tour player who was reinstated to amateur status in October 2011. He owns wins at the Roanoke Valley Match Play Championship and the Southwest Virginia Amateur this summer. “I’m going to go out and try to play like I’m a little bit behind. There’s a number out here. Obviously, Justin and I proved that [Friday]. I don’t think I can go out and shoot even par and win the tournament. I’m going to have to play some golf.”
Even par through 13 holes, Young, who also started on No. 10, stayed in the mix by playing his last five holes in three under par, which included a birdie-birdie finish. At the par-4 eight, his 17th of the day, Young hoisted his second shot from through the green on the left over a tree and made the ensuing 20-foot birdie putt. He finished his round by stuffing a lob wedge to 8 feet for an eventual birdie at the par-4 ninth.
“To finish like I did puts me in a good frame of mind for [Sunday],” Young said. “You don’t come out thinking, ‘Ah, I’m going to shoot eight under again.’ It’s good to celebrate that, but once the alarm clock went off this morning, you focus on what’s ahead of you.”
Young said he focused on not getting caught up in the onslaught of birdies that he and Chandler put up in the first round.
“I focused on not getting ahead of myself and giving myself opportunities to make some putts,” Young said. “You go out and play like it’s the first round again.”
Young says his mindset won’t change on the deciding day.
“I don’t want to get caught up in what’s happening around me,” he said. “There are a lot of good players who can put up a low number.”
Decker shot two under on the outward half and added back-to-back birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 before making pars the rest of the way.
Following Saturday’s second round, the field was cut to the low 45 competitors and ties for Sunday’s final round, with 46 players at 11-over 153 or better advancing.
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