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Matt Chandler of Hardy fired 7 under at Ole Monterey to take the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame title.
MARK TAYLOR | The Roanoke Times
Matt Chandler watches his drive on the 18th hole at Ole Monterey Golf Club in the final round of the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame tournament on Sunday. Chandler shot a 64 to secure a comeback win.
MARK TAYLOR | The Roanoke Times
Matt Chandler hits off the 17th tee at Ole Monterey Golf Club in the final round of the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame tournament on Sunday.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Franklin County’s Matt Chandler often jokes about being the working man’s golfer.
Well, the 31-year-old hardware supply worker from Hardy brought all his major tools to the final round of the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame men’s championship Sunday.
Never breaking a sweat, Chandler fired a blistering 7-under-par 64 at Ole Monterey to capture his first Hall of Fame crown.
The major completed the Roanoke Valley double — he won the Match Play championship last July — for the former ex-professional who returned to amateur golf to have some fun.
Well, he had that and more in coming within one shot of matching the single-round tournament record of 63 by Roanoke’s David Tolley in 1983 at Botetourt Country Club.
“You hate to say it’s an easy 64, but I didn’t have to stress out much,” said Chandler, whose only sniff of a bogey came at the par-14th, where he had to make a 10-foot putt for par. “A round for the ages is pretty bold, but it was a really good round at a really good time. It was a lot of fun. To shoot 7 under was cool. I didn’t have a ‘5’ on the scorecard and anytime you can do that that’s awesome.’’
The rest of the contenders starting the final round of the rain-shortened 36-hole event was cooked when Chandler saw his 80-year-old grandmother, Eleanor Meredith, walking towards the second hole.
“I didn’t expect her to show up today and I saw her coming across the first hole,” Chandler noted. “I had hit it way left on 2, and I said ‘that’s my Grandma!’ And anytime she shows, I concentrate a little harder because she will get on me if I don’t.
“It makes it more special to me to play a good round in front of her. To me, I’ll feel good for a couple hours [Sunday night]. But [this] morning, it’s just whatever what, but she’ll feel good a lot longer than I will about it.”
Chandler’s sparking round enabled him to easily discard a first-round 2-over-par 74 on Saturday at Blacksburg Country Club that left him tied for seventh, two shots behind the co-leaders: 2006 champion Aaron Eckstein and upstart Roger Young, 59, of Blacksburg.
Chandler, who hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation, finished with a winning 36-hole total of 5-under 138, four shots ahead of Eckstein, who posted a final-round 70. Roanoke Country Club’s Chris Clemens, already one of the 15 players who had pulled the valley major double before Sunday, shot 69 to take third at 143.
Chandler becomes the 16th member of the valley major club. He won the Roanoke Valley Match Play championship last July and later captured the VSGA Mid-Amateur title at Hidden Valley.
“The good thing about this is I won’t have to answer the question ‘when are you going to win the Hall of Fame?’ ” said Chandler with a laugh.
“Man, this is fun! I thought when I got my amateur status back it was going to be stress-free and I would go up and backhand in the 3-footers and not worry about it. But anytime you play, you want to win. And shooting 64 to do it [is] just awesome!
“Working for a living, I don’t get to practice all the time,” said Chandler, who played several of pro golf’s slew of mini-tour events for a decade plus before deciding to return to the amateur ranks two years ago.
“I don’t take any time off to play golf. If it’s not a tournament, I’m not going to take off time to play in a Friday evening group just for $5 or something. I do love playing in the tournaments, but I am kind of the working guy. I pull 40, 45 hours a week.”
Eckstein, 24, a regular on Virginia Tech’s golf team from 2007-10, tried to make a run at Chandler, but the winner’s game was stronger than some of the stout medicine that Franklin County is famous for.
“Hat’s off, hat’s off, that’s unreal playing!” Eckstein said. “The last few events we’ve kind of been there, but, man, what a player. Sixty-four is awesome today. I shot 70 and I don’t feel too bad about it.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in the serious hunt and I played well. I’m proud of myself. I have been in the final group in five of the past eight years in this and I won it once, but in the other three I played badly. Today, I didn’t win, but I played well.”
Three-time HOF champion Scott Wise and ex-pro Justin Young each shot 72 and tied for fifth at 146 with teenager Alex Taylor (70) and Jeff Largen (73).
“It was fun to watch,” said Ole Monterey player Young of Chander’s work. “Matt had it going and made no mistakes.
“From now on, if he ever comes out here, I get at least two shots a side.”
Young, who has contended in all five of his valley major starts since regaining his amateur status, was holding his 2-year-old son, Mason, afterwards in the clubhouse.
“He might win one before I do,’’ Young cracked.
Fueled by Chandler’s sizzling round and 70s by Harman and two-time champion Brandon LaCroix, Hunting Hills posted a six-man squad total of 3-under 423 to easily claim the team title by 13 shots over runner-up Roanoke Country Club. Hidden Valley was third, 22 shots back.
It marked the second straight and third team crown in four years for the southwest Roanoke County Club.
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