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Virginia Tech's Lawrence keeps his distance, cruises to State Open title

Virginia Tech's Lawrence keeps his distance, cruises to State Open title

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After suffering two playoff losses over the past four years, Mark Lawrence Jr. took all the drama out of the 2020 Delta Dental State Open of Virginia on Saturday.

Lawrence, a member of Virginia Tech’s golf team, completed a wire-to-wire victory by shooting a final round 3-under-par 69 to take the Open title at Ballyhack Golf Cub by seven strokes with an overall score of 16-under par.

His 54-hole total of 200 was the lowest score in the seven years this tournament has been held at Ballyhack, eclipsing the previous low score of 204, set by Fielding Brewbaker and current PGA Tour member Lanto Griffin.

The Richmond resident standout took charge of the tournament from the start, posting a bogey-free round of 63 on Thursday to take a four-shot lead, which he extended to seven after shooting a 4-under round of 68 on Friday. For 54 holes, Lawrence had just two bogeys on his scorecard.

“Experience really helps a lot here,” Lawrence said of his success at Ballyhack. “Knowing the lines where to hit it and where to miss.”

Lawrence, whose sudden-death losses came at the hands of Jay Woodson in 2016 and Jack Montague in 2019, said finally claiming the trophy was a relief.

“This is something I really wanted to do and I’m glad I pulled it off,” he said. “It’s a huge honor and I’m glad to win here because it’s one of my favorite golf courses.”

Lawrence joined Lanny Wadkins as the only players to win the VSGA Amateur, the State Open of Virginia and the VSGA Junior Stroke Play titles in their careers.

Lawrence’s senior season at Virginia Tech was cut short this past spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Hokies fans in Blacksburg may have not seen the last of the Richmond native, who will return for an additional year at Tech next season if golf is played.

Salem’s Justin Young got the closest at the end of the day finishing in second all alone with a final round 5-under 66 that gave him an overall score of 9-under 207.

“My goal today was to be patient and do what I know I can do,” Young said. “The first two days were a grind, but today was a great ball striking day.”

The lowest round of the day was 66, shot by both John O’Leary of Sterling and former George Mason and Amherst County golfer Marshall Tinsley. Runner-up Justin Young of Salem had the next-best day, firing a 5-under-par 67.

Young came into the final round in a tie for eighth, but quickly shot up the leaderboard with a hot start that included three birdies on his first five holes.

Also in the top five were former Hokies golfer Mikey Moyers of Charlottesville, who finished third, eight behind Young, and ex-Floyd County and Radford University player Michael Wade, who tied Tinsley for fifth.

Blacksburg High graduate Christopher Zhang rallied on Saturday to reach the top 10. Zhang, who will be attending Northwestern beginning in the fall, shot a final round 68 to move into a tie for seventh at 5 under.

Despite his move up the leaderboard, Zhang said he came up just short of his overall goal with a missed birdie putt on the 18th.

“I was hoping to shoot 6-under like I had the last two years, but I didn’t quite make it,” Zhang said.

Hidden Valley graduate Ross Funderburke came into the final round in second place, but struggled Saturday, posting a 9-over 81 playing in the final threesome alongside Lawrence.

The 2020 tournament was the last scheduled to be played at Ballyhack after a seven-year run at the Roanoke County course for the State Open. The VSGA announced following the conclusion of Saturday’s round that Independence Golf Club in Midlothian, which hosted the State Open from 2007-13, will again be the host in 2021.

Independence was scheduled to be the site of the 2020 USGA Mid-Amateur, before that event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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