So far this season, Oakton senior Malcolm Craig has spent quite a bit of time looking up at the leaderboard and seeing Westfield and Chantilly golfers on top. Craig, who has played the sport for only four years and joined the Cougars as a junior after moving to the area from Australia, has had an impressive, albeit hard-luck year. He has finished in the top four of three major tournaments, only to have golfers from Westfield or Chantilly ahead of him every time.

Craig is itching for another chance at a title, and he has several opportunities left, beginning with the two-day Concorde District championships starting Monday at the Herndon Centennial Municipal Golf Course.

"It's tough," Craig said of going up against Westfield and Chantilly. "But I've just started playing with some swing changes and districts are right around the corner. I'm not going away."

Among Craig's biggest competitors in the district tournament should be Westfield seniors Michael Spear, Tim Vigotsky Jr. and defending Northern Region champion Zach Spees, along with Chantilly junior Joe Monte and sophomore Jake An.

Not surprisingly, given their depth, the Bulldogs and the Chargers are the favorites to advance to regional team competition. Early this month, Westfield, the regional team champion last year, defeated Chantilly at Pleasant Valley Golf Club by five strokes; the Bulldogs' top four golfers combined to finish at even par.

"We're right on track to take ourselves into postseason play on a high note," said Westfield Coach Tim Vigotsky, father of Tim Jr. "The timing of our peak could be perfect."

The top two teams from each of the region's four districts advance to the region tournament, and the top two teams from the region then move on to states. The top five individual finishers from teams that do not qualify for regions advance to the individual region tournament; the top six individuals from non-qualifying teams make states.

Last year, Craig missed advancing to states after being knocked out of a three-way playoff at regions. He's hoping for a better performance this season.

"I'm confident that I can make it," he said. "I've gotta get there this year."

Around the Region

By finishing first in the Patriot District regular season, Lake Braddock, behind junior David Paul and sophomores Nick Bruce and Patrick Stoltzfus, advanced to regionals. West Springfield was the favorite to join them. (The results of this week's district tournament were unavailable at press time).

The Liberty and National districts will hold their tournaments next week. In the Liberty, junior Christine Curley's hole-in-one Monday highlighted Madison's win over Langley, putting the Warhawks atop the district. Langley and Jefferson should also contend for a region berth. In the National, Edison and Yorktown, led by state-level golfer Brian Brady and senior Kemp Holladay, were undefeated as of Monday.