Just two holes into Erik Dulik’s round during Tuesday’s 4A North region tournament, everything seemed to be going in the wrong direction. His tee shots sailed left into the hazard area, sending his score upward with a bogey and double bogey, and his morale downward – at least momentarily.
“I knew I had a job to do, and if I kept playing like this, going to state might not be an option,” the Dominion senior said. “I knew if I could refocus quickly, I could play the type of game I needed to.”
Dulik’s short memory led to a birdie on the next hole and ultimately, the individual region title with a 2-under par 68 at the Heritage Oaks Golf Course in Harrisonburg. In the team standings, Loudoun County finished second behind Jefferson Forest with a score of 310 to qualify for the Class 3A/4A state tournament.
Strong putting helped Dulik overcome his shaky start. A 20-foot putt secured Dulik’s first birdie of the day and had he not been able to roll in a 10-foot putt on his ninth hole of the day, the Titan senior would have been looking at another double bogey. As Dulik moved to the latter part of his round on the front nine, he again reversed his prior misfortune by sinking birdie putts on two of the next three holes.
“Those were big because they got me under par,” said Dulik, who won by three strokes. “Then I knew I was safe and could just focus on going even lower with my score.”
The final holes were a bit more tense for Loudoun County. With multiple teams hovering around the same score and several Raiders struggling, Will Flavin stepped up on No. 16, recording an eagle that would ultimately serve as the two-stroke cushion between the Raiders and third-place E.C. Glass.
The finish served as another big step for a group that posted a 1-8 record just two years ago and features no seniors. Flavin, who shot a 76 Tuesday as the team’s No. 6 golfer, helped pace the Raiders along with sophomore Paul Odenwaldt, who shot 74.
“It’s been a work in progress, and we’ve grown quite a bit in my three years with the team,” Raiders Coach Jon Signorelli said. “All six are capable of breaking 80, and when we need a guy to put up a number, they do it, like Will showed today.”
Other local golfers joining Dulik and Loudoun County back at Heritage Oaks next Monday and Tuesday for the state tournament will be Dominion’s Kurt Funkhouser, who finished third with a 72, Heritage’s Ryan O’Sullivan and Park View’s Kirby Struhar, who both tied for fourth with 73s.