Standing behind some trees, left of the fairway on the par-5 15th hole yesterday, Westfield senior Michael Spear was beginning to feel some concern. He had shot a stunning 4 under par on the front nine to take a comfortable lead at the Herndon Invitational. Two bogeys had trimmed his advantage, however, and now Spear was in a little trouble.
"But I knew I could still hit that shot [a sand wedge over the trees back to the fairway], and I hit that shot," Spear said. "And I knew I could still make birdie."
It is that kind of confidence that has helped Spear become one of the top players for Westfield. And it came in especially handy after Spear pushed his attempt for birdie 15 feet past the hole. Spear simply walked around to his ball, read the putt with a slight right-to-left break and made it for a confidence-building par, the first of four in a row to finish a splendid round of 68 to claim the individual title at Herndon Centennial Municipal Golf Course.
"That gave me a boost to finish strong," Spear said.
On a team loaded with talented players, it might be easy to miss Spear, even though he has been playing as Westfield's top seed. Teammate Zach Spees is the Virginia AAA Northern Region defending champion. Another senior, Tim Vigotsky Jr. -- whose father is in his first season as the team's coach -- defeated Spear in a playoff last week to win the Cougar Classic. The Bulldogs have such depth that their 'B' team held the team lead after the tournament's first day and freshman Jack Debell of that 'B' team had the individual lead after shooting 73.
Spear shot 76 on Tuesday, but yesterday he wasted little time making a run to the front. He birdied four of the first eight holes, making the turn with a personal-best 31. Another birdie on 10 and Spear was in control.
"Coming off the front nine, having not won [any recent tournaments], you put pressure on yourself, can you do it?" Coach Tim Vigotsky said, impressed by Spear's back-nine play. "When you're in the lead and trying to hang on the last four or five holes, that's a hard thing to do."
Spear's two-day total of 144 was three shots better than Chantilly junior Joe Monte. Robinson's John Buchanan finished third.
Westfield won the team title at the 11-school event with a score of 618, 20 shots ahead of second-place Oakton. The Westfield 'B' team was third at 640.
The Bulldogs' depth will be tested today, when they play Chantilly in a regular season match that likely will decide the Concorde District title. Sophomore Jake An led the Chargers to the team title at a tournament at Quantico last week and is expected back today after playing in a tournament in California earlier this week.