Eli Newman had a feeling Tuesday’s Virginia 4A West region golf championship would come down to a few strokes. What the Heritage senior didn’t realize — not even as he stood on his last green of the afternoon — was that his final putt would decide it.
On the 18th hole at Algonkian Golf Course in Sterling, Newman sank a 15-foot birdie that was ultimately the difference as the Pride captured what Coach Matthew Swartz believes is its first region title in school history.
“It’s senior year for three of us out of the top six,” said Newman, who shot a team-low 72. “We were pretty pumped that we got to go play one more time.”
Heritage (298) narrowly edged E.C. Glass (299) as both teams advanced to Monday’s Virginia 4A state championship, along with the top six individual finishers on the remaining teams.
Loudoun Valley junior Ryan Hammer (70) won the individual title, finishing ahead of E.C. Glass’s Jimmie Massie (71) and Jefferson Forest’s Isaac Simmons (71).
Loudoun County junior Ryan Monastero (72) and Dominion Quinn Hollister (73) also qualified for the state championship, which will be held at the Tradition Golf Club at Stonehouse, in Toano, Va.
Heritage relied on its depth and consistency as it has throughout its undefeated season this fall. Its team was familiar with the course after a practice round Sunday, and they showed that Tuesday, with Newman, Hayden Miller (74), Garrett Ganley (76) and Josh Petrillo (76) leading the Pride’s six-man group. Nick Rentsch (78) and Aidan Baron (81) rounded out Heritage’s roster.
Newman said the players didn’t realize they had won until about an hour after his final shot, and at one point during the wait, they thought they placed second. But as they started crunching the numbers and getting hints from other coaches, they realized the title could be theirs.
The players watched anxiously as the team totals were written on the scoreboard outside the clubhouse. When their 298 appeared, it set in that the Pride, as a team, would be heading to states next week.
“It’ll be my first time [at states] and obviously my last time,” Newman said. “So hopefully we can grind it out and come home with a title.”
Hammer, who has won the past two Conference 21 championships, battled through the wet conditions by staying patient on the greens and finished 2 under on his back nine.
“This is obviously the biggest that I’ve won,” Hammer said. “Knowing there were a ton of good players in this tournament makes me feel really confident about my game. It was just really big for me.”