Blacksburg is the Region C golf champion after defending their home turf Thursday at the Blacksburg Country Club. The Bruins shot a 288 led by Chris Zhang’s 68. Jefferson Forest finished a distant second in the team competition at 310.
Coach Rick Mattox said his team is playing great at the right time of the year. “They are all hitting the ball amazingly well. Obviously playing at home was an advantage, but the greens were really fast Thursday and we handled the change in green speed better than Jefferson Forest,” he said.
Individually, Melissa Meng and Jake Duncan followed Zhang with 73s, while Ben Carroll shot a 74. The Winistorfer combination of Soren and Jonah tallied an 83 and 86 respectively.
Zhang was the regional medalist winner. “Chris came through like the champion he is. When I asked him what he’d shot when he came off the 28th green, he was disappointed that he missed a 3-footer on 16 for another birdie. But that’s the kind of player he is; he strives for perfection,” Mattox said.
Meng has been a pleasant surprise facing mostly male competition for the Bruins. Mattox calls her his most coachable player, maybe because she’s a girl and will actually listen to him, he jokes.
“She turned at two over and I asked her who she was going by to listen to, me or her mother. You see, her mom had told someone, who asked what Melissa normally shoots, ‘two over par,’ so Melissa felt her mom had jinxed her because that’s what she shot the last few times she played. As she waited to hit her tee shot on hole 10, I told her to birdie 10, par 11 and 12 and birdie 13. And you know what? She did exactly that. She could have shot a 71, but missed birdie putts on 17 and 18, but still finished one over, so the jinx is broken,” he said.
Duncan has been consistent for the entire golf season. Mattox calls him “Mister 65” because he shot that score, his career best, a couple of weeks ago. He came thru again big with a 73 in the regional tournament.
The ace in the hole heading into the state could be Ben Carroll who was the “River Ridge Player of the Year.” While he finished fourth in the final team scores, he remains a key in overall play. He was one under thru 15 holes until he bogeyed out, but he still finished with a 74, which tied him for sixth place.
Mattox was named the region coach of the year. “To win coach of the year, you have to be blessed with a good team, and I am extremely blessed to have such a great group of players at Blacksburg,” Mattox stated.
The Blacksburg leader hopes to be competitive in state competition, but admits he doesn’t even know who the top teams are as the school moved up from the 3A classification last year to 4A this year.
“Hopefully, we’ll play well and bring home another state title for Blacksburg High School,” he said.
The state 4A tournament is scheduled for October 9-10 at the Glenrochie Golf Course in Abingdon.