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Record-setting round paces Matt Chandler to Mid-Amateur title
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Matt Chandler poses with the title trophy. (Photo courtesy of the VSGA)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SALEM -- Paced by an opening-round 61, Hardy's Matt Chandler posted a wire-to-wire victory in the Virginia State Golf Association's (VSGA) 36th annual Mid-Amateur Championship at Hidden Valley Country Club.

Chandler, a former mini-tour professional who regained his amateur status a year ago, finished three days of stroke-play competition Sunday with a 13-under par 200 for a three-shot triumph over Roanoke's Justin Young.

Chandler was making his first attempt to win the Mid-Amateur crown.

The tournament is for amateur golfers ages 25 and older with a handicap index of 9.4 or less.

"Any time you get a win, especially in a tournament like this, it feels good,' Chandler said in a VSGA prepared release. "Luckily, the 61 gave me a good cushion, and I was fortunate to come out ahead.'

Chandler backed up his 61 with rounds of 68 and 71.

Chandler's first-round score established a single-round event record by an amateur in a VSGA stroke-play competition. His 54-hole total broke the tournament record of 204 set in 1994 by Bill Willard of Virginia Beach.

Also, the 61 is the best competitive round shot at Hidden Valley Country Club, which plays 6,642 yards from its championship tees and is known for its hilly terrain.

Chandler was 8-under for the final nine holes Friday with six birdies and an eagle.

Oddly enough, Chandler's first-round score only put him two strokes in front of Young, who carded a first-round 63, after 18 holes.

Both golfers matched 68s on Saturday and Chandler's 71 Sunday was one shot better than Young's 72.

Haymarket's Scott Shingler, the 2010 champion, and Arlington's Jimmy Delp tied for third at 6-under 207.

Seven-time champion Keith Decker (70-67-75) of Martinsville finished in a five-way deadlock for eighth.

On Sunday, Young pulled to within one shot of Chandler on two occasions.

But Chandler would push the spread to four shots with pars on Nos. 13 through 16. That run of pars enabled him to cover bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18.

Chandler said his pars on Nos. 14 and 15 were pivotal and he call both of those holes "demanding ones.'

"Those are two tough holes were things can go either way on you,' Chandler said. "I played those holes well all three days.'

"My mind set (Sunday) was good all the way. I tried not to think about the lead too much. I wasn't playing defensively and I wanted to go out and shoot a good number,' Chandler said.

Although he settled for second, Young said he was proud of his showing.

"It was a good week -- just not as good as Matt's. We were neck and neck pretty much the whole way until the end. If I was going to lose to anyone, I would want for it to be Matt,' Young said.

Chandler's 54-hole scorecard consisted of one eagle, 17 birdies, 30 pars and six bogeys. He played the course's par 3s 1-under, its par 4s 7-under and its par 5s 5-under.

Recent tournament history indicates that a champion's margin of victory is usually slim. Chandler's three-stroke victory is the most since 2004 when Decker won by eight strokes at Boonsboro Country Club in Lynchburg.

This summer, Chandler won the Roanoke Valley Match Play championship at Hidden Valley and also was victorious in the Southwest Virginia Amateur.

As a star junior player Chandler won the Group AAA state championship in 1999 and led Franklin County to a runner-up showing in the tournament played in Leesburg. That summer, he won the VSGA State Junior Match Play title.

In 2005, Chandler placed third in the Sun Trust State Open while playing as a pro.

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