Devin Kay hasn't played in a lot of tournaments and in even fewer match play finals. But what he may lack in experience he made up for in savvy yesterday to win the 16-17 age division of the 31st annual Bobby Bowers Memorial at Springfield Golf and Country Club.
Kay, a 17-year-old rising senior at Churchill, defeated Patrick Scheil of Williamsburg, 3 and 2.
"This is the last year I can play" in the tournament, Kay said. "I really wanted to win it."
Gabe Lainez, a 15-year-old rising sophomore at Chantilly, won the 14-15 age division by defeating Matt Bush of Richmond, 3 and 2. Wes Strang, a 13-year-old Bethesda resident, defeated Jay Pinkos of Clifton on the 19th hole to win the 10-13 age division. And Elizabeth Brightwell of Nellysford, Va., won the girls' division by defeating Kristine Bohrbaugh of Midlothian, Va., 3 and 2.
After falling behind early, Kay birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6 to go 2 up. Scheil closed to 1 down by making birdie on No. 11. Kay quickly extended his lead by making birdie on the next hole.
Then, on the par-5 No. 15, it appeared that Kay was in trouble. His errant tee shot nearly landed in the 14th fairway, behind a cluster of trees. Kay had no shot at the green. In order to get onto the 15th fairway, he would have had to hit his ball back toward the tee. Instead, Kay chose to play his ball along the 14th fairway.
"The only shot I had back into the 15th fairway would have left me about 250 yards in, so I figured why not play down 14 and give myself a wedge to the green," Kay said. "The only thing [he and his caddie] were talking about, we were worried about hitting through the fairway. We didn't know how far the fairway went down."
It turned out there was plenty of fairway. Kay was on the green in three and two-putted for par.
"When I made that par putt on 15 to tie the hole and stay up, that's when I really thought it was over," Kay said.
The match ended on the next hole, when Scheil missed his par putt.
This was Lainez's third time playing the Bobby Bowers Memorial, and he didn't have high expectations. When asked to sum up his victory, Lainez had only one word: "Wow."
"I just came out here to do my best and I didn't expect to win," Lainez said. "Winning just surprised me a lot. It definitely gives me a lot of confidence. I'm very happy with it."
Things were looking bleak for Strang, who was 2 down with two holes to play in his match. But he kept making pars and eventually prevailed.
"It's a pretty big win," Strang said. "It's one of the bigger tournaments in this area."