DeMatha senior Errol Clarke couldn’t find his short game at Tuesday’s WCAC championship at Chantilly National Golf and Country Club in Centreville.
His round was filled with strong tee shots, but he missed short putts time and time again.
But on the 16th hole, a hole many struggled to par on the day, he birdied. He followed that with a birdie on 17 and tallied four birdies on the day.
“It’s a hole you’re not supposed to birdie,” said Clarke, a Virginia Commonwealth signee. “I was in the rough, the wind was swirling. I ended up hitting a great shot, [but] it wasn’t too much thinking involved. I just went off of instinct.”
Clarke missed last season’s WCAC tournament with torn ligaments in his wrist that forced him to sit out eight weeks.
The tournament format was moved to just one day and 18 holes this year, unlike last year’s two-day tournament of 36 holes.
Clarke’s final score of 73 won the tournament by two strokes over Paul VI’s Charles Musto. Bishop Ireton’s Kevin Lewis shot 78 to finish third.
“I let them down last year, and I felt really bad about it,” Clarke said. “I even wrote player of the year on the wall in my room because I wanted to give my team my all this year.”
Paul VI captured its first WCAC team title since 2009 by beating DeMatha, 408-410. Panthers senior Patrick McDonald, the 2013 individual champion, battled a torn biceps to shoot 83. Musto’s 75 was the best score on the team, and Michael Halpin shot 80.
“They stayed focused and they keep shooting,” Paul VI Coach Ellen Horan said. “It was a hard season weather-wise and there was a lot of inconsistent play, so it was just about keeping level with every shot.”
Paul VI and WCAC regular season champion Good Counsel will compete in the Metro Championships with Landon and Georgetown Prep on Wednesday at Chantilly National.