Three weeks ago, Lord Botetourt junior Ashton Harper was holding his own against some of the top junior golfers in the country at the Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament. This weekend his competition may be older, but the 15-year-old’s hot play continues.
Representing Roanoke Country Club, Harper shot a 2-under 68 in the first round of the 48th Annual Roanoke Valley Hall of Fame Tournament on Friday to share the lead in the clubhouse at Hunting Hills Country Club.
Along with Harper atop the leaderboard were defending champion John Hatcher Ferguson and tournament chairperson Darrell Craft, who both posted 2-under-par rounds late in the day.
In the team standings, Hunting Hills was in the lead after the first day of golf.
At the Scott Robertson, Harper was in contention throughout the weekend going into the final round in a tie for second place at 3 under for the tournament. He shot 5 over on Sunday to finish in a tie for 15th, but the success he had over the first two days seems to be paying benefits.
“I didn’t putt good today, but I hit the ball pretty good,” Harper said. “My good play from the Scott Robertson is carrying over. My confidence has been growing and growing.”
The high school junior added that Friday’s round was the first time he had played at Hunting Hills in about two years, and there were some adjustments he had to make to his game.
“I like hitting driver, but you can’t hit driver here,” Harper said. “This is a shot playing course.”
There is a four-way tie for second behind the leaders at 1 under between Ben Dull of Hidden Valley Country Club, Brandon LaCroix and Dicky Linkous of Hunting Hills, and Paul Powell of Hanging Rock Golf Club. LaCroix and Powell posted their scores as part of the second foursome out on the course early Friday morning.
Despite a wet forecast, the golfers in the morning groups were able to complete their rounds without delay, but the afternoon pairings were not as fortunate as play was stopped for just under an hour around 3 p.m. due to rain and thunderstorms in the area.
Among the golfers still on the course at the time of the delay were Ferguson and Craft.
“I only had four holes left, but I think the course played better after the rain,” Craft said.
A field of 67 golfers teed off Friday at Hunting Hills and the overall reviews were positive. Several golfers commented on the improvements they saw on the course.
“Today the course is nothing like it was a year ago. Every member here should be thankful for whoever is in charge of taking care of it,” Craft said. “In my humble opinion, this course is 100% better than it was a year ago.”
Mark Funderburke, of Ole Monterey Golf Club, shot a round of 4-over 74 and like Craft was particularly pleased with the improvements he saw since the last time he played at the course.
“Seven months ago, it was almost unplayable,” Funderburke said. “Some of the greens you couldn’t play on, but the crew here has turned the golf course around. It’s the best turnaround I’ve ever seen.”
The tournament will shift to Hunting Hills for Saturday’s second round with the final round slated Sunday to be played at Ole Monterey.
The two-round women’s tournament will also begin Saturday at Hunting Hills and finish Sunday at Ole Monterey.