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Matt Chandler is ready for a win in the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame championship.
Courtesy of Matt Chandler
Matt Chandler competes in the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame tournament today at Blacksburg Country Club.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Hardy’s Matt Chandler nailed down the front end of the local golf major double last July when he captured the Roanoke Valley Match Play championship.
Now it’s time for the 31-year-old ex-professional to start hammering on the back half of the double dip.
Chandler will launch his quest to become the 15th player to win both of the Valley’s major titles when the 40th Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame championship begins this morning at Mariners Landing.
“It would mean a lot to me to win this,’’ Chandler said. “Anytime I play, I definitely want to win. You don’t go out there to try and finish second.
“It would kind of be a little notch in the Roanoke Valley for me. I wouldn’t say at this point that’s it really a monkey on my back, but it would help to get it out of there pretty quick.”
Last year in his first stab at the HOF since regaining his amateur status, Chandler fought an uncooperative putter for much of the three-day affair and settled for a tie for third, four shots behind sizzling teenager Korey Watts and his deft short game and flat stick.
Chandler not only wants to win for himself, he wants to do it for his Hunting Hills team. The southwest Roanoke club will be gunning for its third men’s team title in four years.
“Being called the favorite doesn’t bother me at all. … I appreciate the compliments that I get,’’ said Chandler, the 1999 HOF Junior champion.
“First, it’s really a team thing. I’d rather celebrate with my team than with myself on Sunday. You don’t feel quite as lonesome if you’ve got somebody there with you, right?”
There are several players in the 87-player field who figure to give the former pro a run for the money.
Watts’ rusty game was evident at the HOF Junior two weeks ago, when he posted 77-76 and finished fourth, a distant eight shots behind winner Ty Olinger. However, Ashley Plantation’s top gun has worked on some swing changes and says he’s ready to return to top form.
“I’m well prepared, way more prepared than I was for the Junior, let’s put it that way,” Watts said. “It will be kind of the same plan as last year, get under par in two rounds and try to stay even in the other one, which is going to be Mariners. I think if you’re even par [today], you’ll be close. ”
Other strong contenders include a trio of 30-something veterans who already have hit the local major parlay.
Hidden Valley’s Scott Wise, who won the last of his three HOF titles in 2011 and is a two-time Match Play champ, and Hunting Hills’ Brandon LaCroix, a two-time HOF titlist who completed the double with a 2009 Match Play crown, loom as major factors.
Then there’s Ole Monterey’s Justin Young, a 35-year-old ex-pro who was runner-up in both the Match Play and Hall of Fame in 2011, his first year back on the amateur scene.
“I would say that Justin is probably more determined to win this thing than anybody in the field if I had to guess,” Chandler said. “I don’t want to give Justin a whole lot of motivation, we know he’s going to be doing good.”
Young is coming off a pair of seventh-place finishes in the Fox Puss and Kenridge, a pair of high-level invitational events last month.
“For any local player, there are two tournaments that you want to win — the Hall of Fame and the Match Play,” Young said. “Certainly, I’m prepared to win, I want to win, and that’s my goal.”
Hidden Valley, which has claimed six team titles in the past decade, rates as the biggest threat to Hunting Hills’ recent dominance.
The 54-hole event moves to Blacksburg Country Club on Saturday and closes Sunday at Ole Monterey.
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