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As the Scott Robertson Memorial golf tournament gained prestige, the local presence declined. This year may be different.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Cave Spring senior Nick Brediger reacts after nearly hitting a hole-in-one during a practice round for the Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament at Roanoke Country Club on Thursday.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Floyd County junior Amanda Hollandsworth hits an approach shot during a practice round for the Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament at Roanoke Country Club on Thursday.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Since the Scott Robertson Memorial’s strength of field bulked up in the late 1990s, there has yet to be a player from Timesland to win the crown in the older boys and girls divisions.
Could this be the year the drought finally ends?
Certainly, the odds appear to be better than in past years for the area’s top junior golfers. Not only do both fields appear to be a tick or two lower in sheer strength and overall depth, the area contingent on hand for the 30th Robertson includes a handful of contestants who have enough game to pull off an upset in the 54-hole shootout at Roanoke Country Club.
Forest resident Zachery Bauchou, who is currently ranked 22nd in the Golfweek/Titleist junior rankings, tops a list of players from the area who could run with the highly skilled outsiders who have dominated the boys 15-18 class the past decade and a half.
“I don’t know ... I just want to play my game to be honest,’’ said Bauchou, a 17-year-old sophomore at Timberlake Christian School. “I know if I play my best someone is going to have to play really good to beat me.
“To win this tournament would be big for me. It would be a big confidence booster for me. I feel I’m ready to win it. Now, it’s just about putting three good rounds together.”
Other top area threats on the boys side include a pair of Radford University signees for next fall — Buchanan’s Korey Watts (James River) and Roanoke’s Nick Brediger (Cave Spring). The next layer of possible threats who qualified for the 86-player field include Garrett Sweeney and Andrew Butts, a pair of seniors who helped lead Salem to the VHSL Group AA title last October. Throw Cave Spring junior Drew Lagan and Blacksburg’s fast-developing sophomore Ty Olinger into that subset as well.
The highly confident Olinger, 15, is not shy about his chances . When asked if he can pull off a breakthrough victory, the left-hander smiled and replied: “I think I can. I’ve been practicing a lot and I think I’m going to be ready for this tournament.”
The kid said he’s coming to win.
“Absolutely!’’ Olinger said without a second’s hesitation. “If you say you can’t win, you’re not going to win.”
Butts, who will play for Roanoke College next fall, knows RCC like the back of his hand. He’s played his home course hundreds of times.
“It has its advantages,’’ he said. “I play here every day but it can still come and get you. It’s not an easy course. These greens are small, the fairways are tight and the rough is long so you’ve got to be on your game no matter what. It’s three days, so one day you have to go low. You can’t shoot over par and win the tournament.”
Butts, 18, is also looking forward to a local winner.
“It might take a few years but it’s going to happen sometime,” he said. “This is one of the strongest fields in the country. These guys are good.”
Lagan, a streaky player who is capable of getting hot and scoring low, said the biggest obstacle for the area players in the tournament is not to put too much pressure on themselves .
“I think it’s just being from the area and having everyone you know coming out to watch you,” Lagan said. “You know that everyone is going to see how you do and that might add a little extra pressure. It’s just important to get out there and just really focus on what you’re here to do. Focus on each shot at a time and not necessarily what you’re going to shoot and who’s going to see it.
“This is just not another event. And everybody playing in it has a reason to be nervous, absolutely. You just have to find a way to step up and hit the shots that it calls for and not think about your score or the people around you.
“I’ve got a shot — a long shot! But everybody out here has got a shot. There’s no Tiger [Woods] out here.”
On the girls side, the last champion from the area was Salem’s Lee Shirley in 1992. That was well before the influx of top-ranked players from Florida-based golf academies, plus players from far and wide.
Floyd’s Amanda Hollandsworth, last year’s VSGA State Junior champion, heads a list of area players who could pose a challenge in the girls 15-18 division field of 39 competitors. Troutville’s Lyndsey Hunnell, who has committed to play college golf at Virginia, and talented 15-year-old Kristin Hearp of Roanoke also pose as threats.
“My goal is just to play well. It’s always a plus to win it,” said Hollandsworth, 17. “I know I’m going up against great competition. It’s making me a better player just being here.
“I’m sure there’s pressure, then personal pressure, too. You’re like: ‘I’m from here, I need to win this!’ I know that I’ve put that on myself many of times.
“My mindset is like to just come out here and play and have some fun.”
When it comes to having fun, few have more on the golf course than Lyberty Anderson. The Chesterfield native, whose record-tying seven SRM appearances make many look at her as a local player, would love nothing more to win a Robertson before she heads to college at Virginia. The always expressive Anderson has some empathy for the Roanoke-area players pressing hard for a Robertson title.
“I think that’s kind of what happens to hometown players in hometown tournaments,” Anderson said. “It’s the same thing for me when the LPGA Futures, the Symetra Tour, comes to Richmond. I’ve gotten a sponsor’s exemption for two years and I can’t make the cut.
“And I think it’s because I put so much pressure on myself, so I think it may be the same thing with them. They just think they have to win because they’re from here. They’re supposed to know the course well, they’re supposed to know how everything works. But it’s not necessarily just that. If it’s your week, it’s your week. And if it’s not your week, then it’s not your week.
“You know, winning these tournaments is not easy. There’s a lot of good players. I’m telling you it’s hard!”
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