Dominion junior Sam Stilwell wins Virginia AA golf title
By Josh Barr,
As the shots kept falling, Sam Stilwell started laughing. One hole after another, the Dominion junior just kept on smiling as he shot a career-best 5-under-par 66 to come from five shots behind and win the Virginia AA championship on Tuesday at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal. He finished with a two-day total of 142.
“Today was by far the best I’ve played,” said Stilwell, who previously had never shot better than 71 in a tournament. “Good timing, I guess.”
Meantime, in the Virginia AAA tournament at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Matt DiSalvo shot 1-under 70 and Northern Region champion Chris Brugge shot 72 to lead Langley to the team title.
DiSalvo’s two-day total of 144 was good for fourth place as the Saxons shot 593 to best second-place Chantilly by nine strokes. Tim Harwick shot 75-72 — 147 and Juhee Bae shot 78-74 — 152 to lead the Chargers.
Matt Lawrence of Mills Godwin edged Griffin Clark of Thomas Dale in a playoff to win the individual AAA title. Both players had shot 141, while Deep Run’s Chris O’Neill was third at 143. Chantilly’s Harwick and Battlefield’s P.J. Leonard were among a four-way tie for sixth at 147.
In Front Royal, Stilwell sandwiched birdies on the second and fourth holes around a bogey on the third. But the fun started on the sixth hole, when he made a 30-foot birdie putt, starting a run of four consecutive birdies. He put a wedge within six inches on the seventh, hit a 5-iron to eight feet on the par-3 eighth and made a 15-foot putt from the fringe on the ninth.
After shooting 76 in Monday’s first round, Stilwell burst into contention with a 5-under 30 on Tuesday’s front nine.
How well was Stilwell going? On the 10th, he hit his tee shot so far left that he had a clear shot at the green and was disappointed to miss a 12-foot birdie putt. On No. 14, he left a wedge shot 30 feet from the hole, then made the putt, going to 7 under on the round.
Bogeys at No. 15 and 18 prevented him from scoring even lower, but it was enough to edge first-round co-leader Nick Brediger of Cave Spring by one stroke.
“My goal was to shoot something around 71 and if I medaled, great,” Stilwell said. “Then the birdies started rolling. I wasn’t going into the day thinking I was going to win.”