ROANOKE — Tatum Walsh is a bomber off the tee, but her pin-jamming accuracy on par-3 holes was key in winning the VSGA Women’s Amateur title at Roanoke Country Club on Thursday.
Walsh never trailed in the final, a 5-and-3 win over Julie Shin.
The finalists represented a youth movement as both still qualify as junior golfers. Walsh is 17 and a rising senior at St. Catherine’s. Shin, 16, will be a junior at Independence High School in Ashburn. Despite their ages, the final pairing was no fluke. Shin was the tournament’s top seed and Walsh was No. 2.
Playing the Redbud side as the front nine, Walsh won both par-3s to make the turn 2-up. She then won the match’s 11th hole – No. 2 on Dogwood – by hitting the green in 3 and making a par 5, while Shin missed the green and took a 6.
Walsh then dialed up the pressure by driving to within four feet on the 154-yard par-3 that played as No. 12, draining the putt for birdie. Shin answered with a drive to eight feet, but missed her birdie putt and dropped to four back.
Walsh, who plays out of Salisbury Country Club, prevented Shin from making a move by halving the next two holes, holding control of the match with a four-hole lead with four to play.
“I was really nervous,” Walsh said. “I felt the pressure, but I had to figure out a way to manage it.”
Outdriving Shin by 40 yards helped. When Shin flew her second shot just over the green, Walsh landed on the putting surface and two-putted to win the hole and end the match after 15 holes.
The win is the first major title for Walsh, who has given a verbal commitment to play collegiate golf at James Madison.
She credited her recent improvement to a swing change and increase in confidence, saying, “The swing change definitely helped, but really it was just gaining confidence, playing more and practicing.”
Making the finals was tougher than winning the final for Walsh, who had to go to an extra hole in the morning semifinal to top Melanie Turner 1-up.
A little local knowledge helped Walsh, who has grown familiar with Roanoke Country Club’s layout while playing the Scott Robertson Memorial.
“Experience always helps,” Walsh said. “I knew the greens, where to hit them and the best places to go.”
Lawrence Jr. holds
lead in State Open
ROANOKE — Mark Lawrence Jr. (Mills Godwin, Virginia Tech) blistered Ballyhack Golf Club with a 9-under 63 to take a four-shot lead after the first round of the Delta Dental State Open of Virginia.
Lawrence, a past winner of the VSGA Amateur Championship, is a two-time runner-up at Ballyhack, having lost in playoffs in 2016 and 2019.
“It’s one of my favorite golf courses,”said Lawrence, who finished with nine birdies and no bogeys. “And the greens are so damn good right now, if you get the ball rolling online, it’s going in. I feel like there can be some low scores because of how the greens are rolling, because you can make a lot of putts.”
Richmonder Maston Stutler and Charlottesville’s Dustin Groves each fired 5-under 67s and are tied for second.
Mark Lawrence Jr. 63, Dustin Groves 67, Mason Stutler 67, Buck Brittain 68, Peter Gasperini 69, Jeffrey Long 69, Dick Mast 69, Mikey Moyers 69, Aaron Summers 69, Ben Cooper 70, Steve Delmar 70, Jimmy Flippen 70, Kyle Fuller 70, Ross Funderburke 70, Garland Green 70, Ian McConnell, Tim Pemberton 70, Isaac Simmons 70