ABINGDON — Jet lag from a trip to California? Been there.
Missed assignments from school to make up? Done that.
So what else could possibly have slowed down Ashton Harper?
Not a thing Monday.
Roughly two weeks after playing in a pro-am event on the PGA Champions Tour, the Lord Botetourt junior took off and flew away from the rest of the field in the VHSL Class 3 golf championship at Glenrochie Country Club.
Harper crushed it, hitting all 18 greens in regulation with birdies on six of the last 12 holes for a 6-under-par 66 to win the individual title by four strokes over Abingdon’s Will Watson.
While Abingdon claimed the team championship on its home course for the second year in a row with a score of even-par 288, no one was close to Harper’s 66.
“I could have been better too,” Harper said. “I hit the ball really well. I hit all 18 greens. I missed a 4-footer on the last hole for a birdie for a 65. I missed a few others on the front nine I should’ve had.”
Harper’s title came 13 days after he placed fourth in the Region 1C tournament with a 73.
The Botetourt golfer made a hasty return from Pebble Beach, California where he played with two Senior PGA pros over three rounds in the PURE Insurance pro-am.
The long flight home two the day before the region tournament was a drain.
“I’ve definitely recovered now,” Harper said. “I haven’t been practicing as much, with school getting caught up.”
Harper parred the first six holes before beginning a birdie binge at the par-5 No. 7. He rolled in a 40-footer for birdie at the par-3 No. 3, and followed that with birdies at 11, 12, 13 and 15 to go 6-under over a nine-hole stretch.
Obviously, the nine-hole score of 29 he shot earlier this season at Hanging Rock was no fluke.
“The long putt on Number 9 got my back nine rolling,” he said. “After that I kept rolling all the way through. I just kept myself under control for the first six.”
Harper said he has been working with a sports psychologist to better manage the mental side of his game.
“I use him a lot for these type situations,” he said.
The Botetourt golfer said he also has learned to control his temper, which was not the case earlier in his career.
“It’s improved so much from two years ago,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Harper won the First Tee national championship and shot 5-under-par on his own ball in two rounds at Pebble Beach and one at Spyglass Hill.
“I’ve had a good summer,” he said.
Harper became the first Lord Botetourt champion since Clay O’Connor in 2009.
Teammate Samir Davidov finished fourth at even-par 72, but because Botetourt placed third in Region 3D behind Abingdon and Hidden Valley, the Cavaliers were unable to compete for the team title.
Davidov made three birdies and three bogeys in placing fourth with his 72.
“You’re not going to complain about even [par],” the senior said. “I left some putts out there. You can’t have them all.”
Hidden Valley had hopes of toppling Abingdon after losing to the Falcons by just three shots in the region tournament.
Abingdon slammed the door putting four players among the top six finishers as Conner Brummitt (71), Grace Addison (73) and Caleb Brummitt (74) backed the 70 by Watson, who finished as the individual runner-up for the third year in a row.
Hidden Valley shot 312, finishing 24 strokes back.
The Titans’ counting scores were turned in by Harrison Withers (77), Slade Aliff (78), Tanner Whitely (78) and Richard Hearp (79).
Region 3D champion Nick Crawford of Northside shot 82.
The state title was Abingdon’s fourth in five years and its fifth in the last seven seasons.
“Even-par’s a great score. Hat’s off to those guys for sure,” Hidden Valley coach Mark Croye said. “It’s an honor to be here. Today wasn’t our day, but even-par is pretty tough.”
After seeing the Class 3 tournament bounce back and forth from Abingdon to Williamsburg in recent years, Croye would like to see it move closer to the Roanoke Valley if he can find a club willing to make a bid on the event.
“I think we’re going to try and see if we can do that,” Croye said. “Not because we think [this] is a disadvantage, but it’s been here a while and hopefully we can move it somewhere else.”