Daniel Kefale highlighted a busy summer by winning the most prestigious junior tournament in Virginia.
Kefale, 17, a rising senior at Osbourn Park, posted a wire-to-wire victory in the Virginia State Golf Association Junior Amateur championship at Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach this week. He shot an even par 70-74 -- 144 to win by three strokes. The tournament, which ended Thursday, had been scheduled for 54 holes but was shortened to 36 after inclement weather forced the cancellation of the first round.
"It was basically what I had been hoping for," said Kefale, a two-time All-Extra player of the year. "I knew there were a few other golfers I had to look out for, but I just wanted to play well. I was lucky I was able to win by a few shots."
After a solid first round, Kefale came into the final round with a one-shot lead over Hunter Townsend of Glen Allen. He shot a 1 under par on the front nine to increase his lead to two strokes.
"After that, I started playing a little more conservatively," Kefale said. "Toward the end of the round, I built [the lead] to about three or four shots, so from then on I was just trying to protect the lead, make sure I didn't do anything stupid."
The win is a significant addition to Kefale's resume, which has gotten more impressive this summer as he has competed in national tournaments in California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Illinois.
"This is the best tournament for juniors in Virginia so it was still pretty important, but the field wasn't as strong, obviously, because in the other tournaments I've been playing against the best kids from all over the United States," Kefale said. "But it was definitely an important victory."
Because of his schedule, Kefale was out of town most of July and has been home only a few days this month.
"Definitely the goal for this summer was travel a little bit farther," Kefale said. "I've never traveled that much for tournaments. . . . It was good. I got to see the competition. I mean, there are a lot of great golfers across the country."
The national schedule also was intended to attract the attention of college coaches, who base their evaluations on how golfers perform in national events, Kefale said.
Besides winning the Virginia Junior Amateur, Kefale finished fourth at the Independence Insurance Junior Classic, or Big I as it is known, in Oklahoma, and he was seventh at an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) ournament near Chicago. Past winners of the Big I include Tiger Woods and other PGA Tour professionals. He also reached the first round of match play in the U.S. Junior Amateur at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
"I think I played decently; I didn't play well," Kefale said. "I had a couple good finishes. I could have played a little bit better in the U.S. Junior Amateur. I could have been in contention at the Big I when I got fourth place. I played well, but it showed me that I've got to take my game to the next level and start shooting consistently under par if I want to compete with some of the best players out there. From here on, especially in college, it's not going to get any easier."
Kefale said that although he is worn down by all the travel and competition, he has no regrets about his summer. He has two more events -- an AJGA tournament in Richmond and the Virginias-Carolinas team matches -- just as the high school season is getting underway.
"It's tiring, definitely. Especially toward the end I started to feel it," he said. "It's tournament golf. It's not just playing out with your friends. You've got to stay focused.
"I was glad I did it. Looking back on it, it was a really good experience. I'm getting to travel a lot and play some nice courses, so I mean I can't complain, really. "