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Justin Young faces Matt Chandler in the headline matchup of today's match play semifinals.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Justin Young chips onto the 12th green at Blue Hills Golf Club in Roanoke on Saturday.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
When Justin Young regained his amateur status a few years ago, the former mini-tour professional figured it would be fun to return to the Roanoke Valley and experience what it’s like to win again.
Unfortunately for Young, Hardy’s Matt Chandler had a similar plan. Since, Chandler has held the upper hand of the deal, ripping off major wins in last year’s Roanoke Valley Match Play Championship, last year’s VSGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Hidden Valley and last month’s Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame men’s championship.
Well, Young’s time to answer may not ever get any better than this morning’s semifinals of the 67th Roanoke Valley Match Play.
In a week in which four of the top six seeds have been sent packing, No. 4 seed Young will face top seed Chandler in the showdown 8 a.m. match at Blue Hills. The survivor will advance to the 1 p.m. championship match against the winner of the other semifinal that pits No. 15 Barry Wirt Jr. against No. 14 Kyle Bailey
“If you look at the seeding, this is the match that I think [Chandler] and I were hoping for,” said Young, after surviving a pair of extra holes matches in Saturday’s third round and quarterfinals.
“Matt’s a good player and so am I. Hopefully, I will continue to hit the ball well and make some putts and we’ll see what happens. When you start playing the top-notch caliber in the state you can’t look at the guy in the mirror and let him beat you. I’m ready.”
Certainly, the former Northside and Charleston Southern standout is jacked after pulling out two overtime matches with some late magic.
While Chandler has steamrolled three straight foes to get to this position, Young has had to work.
In his two matches Saturday, Young made a couple of near-miraculous overtime birdies to keep his victory hopes alive. He got up and down from under a tree on No. 1 from 125 yards to match upstart 20th seed Chad Rasnick on the 19th hole, then drained an 8-footer for birdie on the 20th hole to send the former Longwood golfer home. In the afternoon quarterfinals, Young drained a 35-foot birdie putt to knock out No. 12 seed and 2010 HOF champion Darrell Craft.
“I hit the shot of a lifetime against Jed on the first hole of the playoff ... I mean I couldn’t do it again,’’ Young said. “Then, Jed puts his second shot to a foot.
After conceding Rasnick his birdie, Young stalked his left-to-right 8-footer from all angles and promptly drained the matching birdie. The normally reserved Young responded with an emphatic fist pump and hollered ‘’yeah!’’
“I told my dad [Bev] that you’ve got to believe and I drained it!” Young, 35, said. “I was fired up. Making that putt was do or die. And when you can do something under that circumstance and pull it off that’s special!”
After Rasnick left his tee shot on the par-3 20th hole 20 yards short of the green, Young then stuck a 7-iron to 8 feet and made the match-winning birdie putt.
“I knew I was going to hit a good shot there. I was tired of this crap!” he said.
In his afternoon match against Craft, Young’s tee shot on the first extra hole (353-yard No. 1) left him with a difficult stance in a fairway bunker with his ball in the adjacent rough. He somehow got his ball onto the green and then slam-dunked a long birdie putt.”
“Justin made a heck of a shot to get his ball on the green, then he makes a 35-footer,’’ said Craft, 44, who advanced to the quarters for a third straight year. “He did the same thing against Jed. What do you do? You shake his hand and say, ‘nice putt.’ “
When asked if Young’s OT theatrics may signal it’s his turn to win, Craft said: “He’s still chasing his first [valley major], right? Well, he’s going to have a good chase [today].”
Craft, of course, was referring to Young’s clash with Chandler. The Franklin County native actually trailed in a match Saturday for the first time in nine career matches in the event Saturday after he lost the first hole in his 5-and-4 win over No. 25 Harold Dill III in the quarters. Chandler, who ousted veteran John Newton 5 and 4 in the third round, was a combined 11 under in 28 holes Saturday.
“I feel good about it, man,’’ he said.
Wirt, whose father, Barry won the title in 1982, advanced to the semifinals for the second straight year. He draws Kyle Bailey, best known as the older brother of 2008 HOF champion Marshall Bailey.
“Little brother only played in this one time, I think,’’ said Bailey, a former Radford University golfer who now works in insurance in Daleville. “It would be great to do something he hasn’t done..”
Vinton’s Tim Chocklett will face two-time champion Jack Allara II in today’s 55-and-over senior division title match. Roanoke’s Bill Profitt will shoot for a third straight crown in the 65-and-over Master division against Salem’s Al Looney. Roanoke’s Marvin Taylor will meet bottom seed Patrick Greeley in the 70-and-over Grand Master division title match.
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