The first time David Ross thought about winning Wednesday’s final round of the Virginia 6A North region golf tournament, he was walking to the ninth tee of the Oaks Course at Twin Lakes, mentally preparing for a sudden-death playoff.
Up to that point, the South County senior’s day had been a wash, subdued by an uneven first-day performance that left him 25 spots back on the leaderboard. But after firing a 1-under par 70 during Wednesday’s care-free round, the pressure was on again as he stared down a 20-foot putt from the fringe of the green on No. 9.
With dusk settling over the Clifton course and the pin as his guide, Ross drained the par putt, triggering a fist pump filled with relief, frustration and celebration. For the second time in three years, Ross was the Virginia 6A North region golf individual champion.
“I wasn’t planning on winning when I came into today,” said Ross, who shot a two-day score of 5-over par 147. “My main goal was to make no mistakes, shoot in the 60s and have a bogey-free round. So when my coach came up to me and said ‘Get ready, you’re in a playoff.’ I said ‘Playoff for what?’ My heart just stopped. I couldn’t believe it.”
Sam Jung was the playoff competition for Ross. With a first-day score of 1-over par 72, the sophomore had entered the day in a tie for first, setting the stage for Chantilly to capture its fourth straight region team title with a score of 602.
Despite struggling down the stretch, Jung nearly eliminated the need for a playoff on the 18th hole. Perched on a hill just right of the green, Jung’s chip shot for eagle rolled within inches of the cup, leaving his ball and chances at victory hanging in the balance.
A couple hours earlier, Ross had nearly done the same thing from the other side of the 18th hole, albeit under much different circumstances. The near-birdie served as one of the few eventful moments during Ross’s one-birdie, bogey-free second round — and in retrospect, the senior wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“If I had shot well on the first day, I don’t think I would have won,” Ross said. “Just playing with no pressure, I think, really helped me get back on track without even knowing it.”
Joining Ross and Chantilly at Tuesday’s Virginia 5A/6A meet in Moseley will be medalist Kurtis Grant of South Lakes (148), South County’s T.J. Repczynski (150) and McLean’s Kevin McCarthy (151). A scoring discrepancy forced another playoff that will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday between Langley and Oakton to determine the team runner-up and three other individuals who will qualify for state.