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LORTON –– Brad Chambers’ 300-plus mile trek from Galax to Northern Virginia proved to be well worth the journey.
The 29-year-old southwest Virginian won two of the final three holes in the championship final to score a 2-up victory over Greg Morrison, 42, of Centreville to claim the 7th Virginia State Golf Association Public Links Championship Aug. 30 at Laurel Hill Golf Club.
For Chambers, the five-plus hour ride home and a battle with northern Virginia traffic was surely more enjoyable with the trophy and his first VSGA individual title in hand.
“I just hope I don’t hit somebody’s bumper by looking at the trophy while going through this traffic up here,” Chambers said. “It’ll be a good trip and it will be even better when I get home, because I had a lot of friends and family supporting me. My friends and family have pulled me through. They’ve helped me get through this week and been the biggest part of my success.”
The finalists ousted the two top seeds in the semifinals. Chambers posted a 2 and 1 victory over defending champion and second-seeded Jimmy Delp of Arlington in the round of four, building a 3-up lead after 11 holes in reaching the final. Morrison staved off a late rally from medalist Vincent Nadeau of Richmond, who won Nos. 16-18 to send the match to extra holes. Morrison, who wielded a hot putter for much of the encounter, advanced by knocking in a 15-footer from the fringe at the first extra hole, the par-4 first.
The ebb and flow of the deciding match featured only five halved holes. Morrison, who worked as the assistant superintendent at Laurel Hill during the course’s grow-in, appeared to know every nuance of the subtly-undulating greens.
Now the director of golf at nearby Twin Lakes Golf Course in Clifton, Morrison won two of the first three holes of the deciding match, holing a 14-footer for birdie at the par-4 second hole and recording a par win at the ensuing hole.
Facing a two-holes down deficit, Chambers returned the match to all-square at the risk-reward par-4 seventh, nearly dunking his tee shot at the 280-yard plus hole before knocking in the 11-footer for eagle. His pitch mark was only some 10 inches from the hole.
Morrison clipped a perfect shot off the grass at the par-5 ninth, holing his 35-foot chip from short and left of the putting surface to take a 1-up lead after nine.
Undeterred, Chambers won the first three holes of the second nine, finishing the surge in which he took his first lead of the match by holing a 12-footer from left of the hole on the par-4 12th. Fairly steady to that point, Morrison started the second nine with three straight bogeys.
But Morrison recovered to make inroads at Nos. 13 and 15, winning both holes to square the match for a fifth time.
In the end, Chambers had the final answers. At the downhill par-3 16th, he judged the wind perfectly and fired his 5-iron tee shot to six feet below the hole and regained a 1-up lead with a conceded birdie after Morrison misfired on his five-foot par-saver. The back-and-forth encounter remained that way heading to the par-5 last hole.
Chambers found the winning shots at No. 18. He safely found the fairway on his tee shot, while Morrison blocked his tee shot to the right into fescue up to his waist, was forced to take an unplayable and ultimately, bound for bogey, conceded his opponent’s birdie putt to complete the match.
Chambers, a communications officer in Grayson County, calmly played his second shot at the last to perfect wedge distance and lofted his third shot to 8 feet below the hole.
“I knew the course was playing tough and tried to leave myself in a good place to make pars and go from there,” he said.
Chambers, who has played in VSGA events for 10-plus years. bested two of the top three seeds in taking home his first VSGA title. In addition to ousting Delp in Monday morning’s semifinals, he knocked third-seeded Danny Yates (Marshall) to open match play. Chambers had it no easier in Sunday afternoon’s quarterfinals, where he erased a four holes down deficit through eight holes against Conlin Giles (Portsmouth) to eventually score a 20-hole victory.
Chambers played 55 holes in his final three victories, but long-distance trips are sometimes worth it, he’s undoubtedly learned.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Chambers, who plays primarily at Blue Ridge Country Club. “This was one of my biggest goals in life – to win one of these championships. That’s what I’ve always strived for.”
Of course, one VSGA title means he can long for other accolades.
“I ought to get some type of award,” Chambers laughed, “for driving the furthest.”