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Local Golf: Craft, Harper, Leonard claim Hall of Fame titles at Hanging Rock

Local Golf: Craft, Harper, Leonard claim Hall of Fame titles at Hanging Rock

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Darrell Craft was dealing with a flood of emotions Friday as he walked off the green on the 18th hole at Hanging Rock Golf Club.

He knew he had joined a select club of golfers who had won Hall of Fame championships in two classifications.

On a more somber note, Craft knew that his mother-in-law, Susan Young, was in failing health.

“I’d like to say that this win is in her honor, as well as my dad, who passed away two years ago,” Craft said. “He used to always root for me, and his name was Donnie Craft.

“I couldn’t have did it without him, and I certainly couldn’t have done it without my mother-in-law always asking, every time I played golf, how I shot.

“She’s 89 and she’s probably fighting harder than I did today. About five or seven times, I stopped and wondered, when I finished, if she would even be alive.”

She was.

It was the culmination of the Roanoke Golf Hall of Fame championship season, with Craft winning the seniors title for players 50 and over.

“Ten years ago, I was lucky enough to win the regular division,” he said. “I’d be remiss to say the only people to win the regular division and the senior division were Ned Baber, Dicky Linkous and Jack Allara.

“To add my name to those three, I feel, is like an accomplishment beyond belief.”

Allara pushed him to the end Friday, as did Danny Hopkins. Craft finished with a two-day total of 146, including an opening-round 74 at Westlake on Thursday.

Hopkins, who briefly held the lead Friday after a 1-under 71, finished one shot back. Allara lost by two.

“I kind of knew that I was one [stroke] behind with two holes left,” Allara said. “I was pretty sure that Darrell had birdied No. 17. When we saw his reaction at [No.] 18, we felt he had birdied that one, too.”

Hopkins’ second-place finish followed a runner-up performance in his early years.

“I’ve now finished second in the regular division and the senior division,” he said, “so I really would have liked to have won today.”

Three champions were recognized, including Carl Leonard, who followed up a sizzling 67 on Thursday at Westlake with a 73, good for a 36-hole total of 140 in the Super Senior division.

He finished with a two-shot margin over Great Oaks Country Club teammate Dennis Fields, Hal Clary and Jim Wright.

“I didn’t play golf in college or high school,” said Leonard, a short-game specialist who won the 2007 senior Hall of Fame. “I would play more golf, but I don’t want [my wife] to be a golf widow.”

In the junior division, Ashton Harper shot 73 for a two-day total of 145 and a three-stroke victory over his Lord Botetourt High School classmate, Samir Davidov.

“I had a lot of adrenaline flowing,” said Harper, who got a big lift from a par at No. 16, where he missed the green.

After Davidov had a late drive trickle out of bounds, Harper added a late birdie to sew up the win.

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Doug Doughty is in his 44th year at the Roanoke Times, having produced an estimated 10,000 by-lines, a majority of them on University of Virginia athletics.

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