Eight strokes down after the first day of the Virginia AAA golf championships, Osbourn Park senior Daniel Kefale had little problem figuring his odds of winning a state title on the tournament's second and final day.
"I didn't really think there was much of a chance," Kefale said.
Kefale got it wrong. His 2-under-par 70 on Tuesday at Lake Chesdin Golf Club allowed him to win the state title by one stroke over first-day leader Matt Watson of Chesapeake's Western Branch.
The comeback, Osbourn Park Coach Mike Foley said, made the victory especially sweet, particularly since Kefale had established a goal of winning the state title after a disappointing finish at last year's state tournament. Kefale had been tied for fourth place after shooting 74; Watson had shot a 6-under 66 and led the field by seven strokes.
"He was in the driver's seat," Kefale said. "But I just told myself to apply a little pressure on him early, which I did. And it happened to work out for me."
In fact, things worked out so well for Kefale that after 13 holes on Tuesday, he had a three-shot lead over Watson. Teeing off on No. 10, Kefale trimmed two strokes off the deficit with a birdie on that hole and another birdie on No. 14 helped him get within two shots at the turn. Three more pars and a birdie on No. 4 put Kefale three strokes ahead of Watson and, with such a lead, he was disappointed that a par putt lipped out on No. 7, preventing him from shooting 69.
Kefale became the fifth high school golfer in 40 years to win the Virginia State Golf Association's Junior Amateur title and a state high school title in the same year. Not bad for someone who imagined on Monday night that his best-ever competitive round might only get him close to the tournament winner.
Foley, previously Osbourn Park's wrestling coach, compared Kefale's comeback to ones he has seen in that sport, "It's like you've come off your back twice and won out in the third period."
Watson finished second at 145, narrowly missing a birdie putt that could have forced a playoff on the final hole. The other top finishers from the Washington area were Westfield's Zach Spees and Robinson's John Buchanan, who were in a tie for seventh at 149.
Deep Run of Glen Allen won its second consecutive team title with a score of 608. Westfield finished fourth and Robinson fifth.