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The 17-year-old sophomore, who is ranked No. 22 in the Golfweek/Titleist world rankings, opened up the first round with a solid 1-under-par 70.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Timberlake Christian’s Zachary Bouchou tees off during a practice round for the Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament at Roanoke Country Club on Thursday. Brouchou said playing on his school’s team has given him mental time off from golf.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
Lyndsey Hunnell of Troutville lines up a putt on the first day of the Scott Robertson Memorial golf tournament at Roanoke Country Club on Friday.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Living on the farthest eastern border of Timesland, Forest’s Zachary Bauchou had been somewhat of an unknown quantity to other junior golfers in the Roanoke Valley area.
Well, the kid whose family lives on the 13th hole of London Downs Golf Course certainly has blown his cover to those in these parts in recent months.
Bauchou, a 17-year-old sophomore at Forest’s ultra-private Timberlake Christian School who basically does most of his golfing damage at major national events, opened some eyes with a solid 1-under-par 70 in Friday’s first round of the 30th Scott Robertson Memorial at Roanoke Country Club.
Perhaps someone should have done some more intense research. If so, his Friday work wouldn’t have come as any surprise to those who have checked out his resume. Bauchou — pronounced Bow-choo — entered the 54-hole tournament ranked No. 22 in the latest Golfweek/Titleist world rankings. He’s No. 1 among all Virginia juniors and ranked second only to Florida’s Jorge Garcia among players in the 2015 high school graduating class.
Obviously, he’s far from flying under the radar on the national scene.
“I don’t care,” said Bauchou, breaking into laughter when informed that most of the area contestants in the Robertson’s boys 15-18 division didn’t know much about his game or national status.
“I just want to play my game. I know if I play my best, someone is going to have to play really good to beat me.”
How much does the gaudy ranking mean to him?
“Coming down to it, it doesn’t affect what I shoot this week and it doesn’t affect what I shoot last week, it just tells what I shot the week before,” Bauchou said. “I don’t base everything on the rankings. But it is a general standpoint of where I’m at with kids who are 18 or 19 years old.
“So it’s pretty valid, I think. I want to always be improving, that’s my goal. It’s not to be ranked in the junior rankings but to play on the [PGA] Tour one day. Just keep looking up and go from there.”
His golf teacher the past year knows the goods on one of his new pupils. Wayne DeFrancesco, a longtime swing doctor at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., said Bauchou has serious game.
“Zach went to the round of 16 in the U.S. Junior [last year],” said DeFrancesco. who is well respected in the golf teachers’ fraternity. “He’s had some real nice finishes against older competition. You have to compile some good results to get ranked and you have to make the effort to go play. And his dad has taken him all over the place to go play.
“Zach is being recruited by the top five. He’s looking at Texas and Oklahoma State — all the best schools. He is highly rated for his age and that’s what they’re looking for. He’s playing against all the best competition and he’s doing really well, so he’s going to be onward and upward as we go.”
Bauchou’s father, Edward, an established golfer himself, put the first club in his boy’s hands at age 6. Soon thereafter, he was taking the boy to numerous stops on U.S. kids circuits.
“We played a local qualifier and I think I shot [2-under] 34 and he was like ‘you probably have some potential,’ ” Zach recalled. “He then had got me into playing with him at London Downs. It’s great living on the 13th hole down there. I can walk out of the house and practice there sometimes when it’s not too busy. But it’s been too busy lately.”
Because he and his father are often gallivanting across the nation hitting junior events, the family opted to send their son to Timberlake Christian the past three years.
“I really like it. It’s a small classroom and I’ve learned a lot from that,” Zachary said. “It’s been really good for me being around more people because I was home-schooled up until eighth grade.
“We have a golf team but it’s a very small team. Most of the guys are just there to have fun. They play every sport. They play basketball, soccer, golf, we really enjoy it. It’s not too competitive, which is good for me. I can take away some time from competitive golf and just be out on the course with my friends and having a good time. It’s not time off from the game, but it’s mental time off from the game.”
The family decided to reclassify their golfing son, which is why he’s only a sophomore at 17.
“I’m an older sophomore,” Zachary said. “We just did that so I could be a little older going into college and make that college decision a little easier, I didn’t have to make it real quick. It wasn’t grade wise or anything. I get good grades. I haven’t regretted it at all and it’s another year to play junior golf, which is great.”
Edward Bauchou, a registered chiropractor, hasn’t had to twist his son’s back in any fashion to keep him on course. Meanwhile, Pops doesn’t play golf anymore. When asked if his father stopped teeing it because he couldn’t beat him anymore, the well-built 6-foot, 175-pound teenager smiled.
“I don’t know … maybe,” replied Zachary, breaking into laughter.
Before coming to Roanoke, the younger Bauchou got a swing tune-up from DeFrancesco last weekend. On Tuesday, Bauchou shot 1-under 71 to win medalist honors in a men’s U.S. Open local qualifier in Maryland.
In addition to DeFrancesco, Bauchou also has been under the tutelage of fellow London Downs member Dick Mast, a longtime PGA Tour professional who won $384,552 last season on the Champions Tour.
“Dick suggested to Ed that maybe with Zach struggling a little bit that he could come and see me and see if we clicked a little bit and it has worked out real nice,” DeFrancesco said. “Then he goes out and wins the U.S. Open qualifier on a tough course.
“He’s a real solid player. He’s got a good, strong body, he can move it and he’s controlled. It’s a pleasure to work with somebody who is that talented.
“And it’s good for Zach to kind of hang around Dick. He’s a real good influence.”
The kid seconded that motion.
“Mr. Mast has been having problems with his back this year, but he’s helped me out a ton. He’s played in everything over the years. He has taught me so much, too.”
Young Bauchou probably could use some help opening his mail from college golf coaches these days.
“I’ve gotten a lot of interest,” Zachary said. “We have not decided where I’m going to go to college. It’s a hard decision because I’ve got my parents involved in it and we want to make the right decision. A lot goes into making a college decision.”
DeFrancesco predicts the kid from the Downs will be an upper for some college.
“He’s just got the whole package,” DeFrancesco said. “I think he’s going to continue to improve and be a real solid Division I player. I could see him being an All-American eventually and then eventually trying to make his way out and play for a living. He’s good. He’s the real deal as people say.”
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