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The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot | File 2012
Jake Mondy won the celebrates sinking a putt on the thirteenth hole in the final round of the VSGA Amateur Championship at Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach last summer. Only weeks after winning the Amateur, he won his first collegiate tournament.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Face it. Jake Mondy couldn't have written a much better script himself for his first season of major college golf.
After exploding out of the gate by winning in his college debut for 18th-ranked Auburn last September, Mondy scored another major coup last week when he was named to the powerful Southeastern Conference's 2012-13 All-Freshman team.
Winning in your first college tournament? That's almost off the charts, especially when one considers that some of the current top names on the PGA Tour failed to win a single tournament in their college careers.
Making a conference's All-Freshman squad? It might not mean so much in some leagues. In the SEC, though, it resonates big time.
Check out this week's NCAA regionals. Thirteen of the SEC's 16 teams will be there; nine are ranked in the latest Golfweek/Nike Golf Coaches Top 25 poll. No more evidence required. Yes, making the All-Freshman team in the deepest and strongest league in America is huge stuff.
Think Mondy made a smart decision to redshirt in his first year on "The Plains"? He thinks so.
"I do feel good about my season," said Mondy, who chose Auburn over nearby Virginia Tech and others coming out of Blacksburg High School.
"It was my decision to redshirt last year," Mondy said. "I could have played if I had wanted to. I think it's going to turn out to be a great decision because it gave me a little extra time to mature and work on my swing.
"I was really ready for this year to start and it showed in the first tournament. I had some ups and downs throughout the year, but I started playing better towards the end of this spring and I'm happy where my game is at."
Only weeks after winning the VSGA Men's Amateur title last summer, Mondy became one of the few players ever to win in their college debut, shooting 67-68-67 (10-under 202 54-hole total) to win The McLaughlin and propel the Tigers to the team crown at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y.
"Yeah, that was pretty special," Mondy said. "My Mom [Bernadette] flew up to New York and watched me play, so I won't forget that one."
Auburn will be the No. 3 seed in the Columbus Regional hosted by Ohio State. Like all of the regionals, competition runs this Thursday through Saturday.
Mondy, whose 73.62 stroke average ranks fourth on Nick Clinard's team, is ready for the Tigers' fifth straight NCAA appearance.
"The SEC in golf is pretty close if not better than football in the SEC," said Mondy, whose five rounds in the 60s is tied for the team lead.
"There's so many teams ranked in the top 25 in the SEC that our conference tournament has about as strong a field as the national championship will have, if you think about it. I wanted to play against the best and measure myself against everyone else in the country, and Auburn is definitely the place to do that. It has been fun and I like the direction I'm heading."
Say this for Conner Hayden: It didn't take long for the former Chilhowie High School star to reserve a spot forever in the Radford University record book.
In a year in which he had to learn how to do his laundry for the first time plus go to class, Hayden kept his head for coach Mike Grant's club. So much so that he was named the Big South's Freshman of the Year.
The only other Radford player ever to win the award? Bath County's Eric Hooke in 1999.
"I really didn't think much about it over the course of the year," said Hayden, runner-up in the 2011 VHSL Group A championship.
"Really, I didn't even know they gave an award for that, honestly, until about a week before. At the conference tournament, it was on your mind, of course. Then, it just turned out to be good."
Hayden's 22nd-place finish in the Big South championship cemented the award. The two-time Hogoheegee District champion had a 75.9 scoring average and one top-10 finish - a seventh in the Bash at the Beach held March 11-13 in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
That performance was key as the Highlanders led from wire to wire in posting their first tournament victory since 2007. Junior Callum Tarren (third), senior Weston Eklund (sixth) and Hayden (seventh) led the charge.
"It was really cool to be part of that team that got that victory," Hayden said. "We wanted it badly for Coach Grant. He's the reason I came to Radford. He's kind of old school. It's like his way or the highway. ... My family always has been run that way. It's cut and dry."
VSGA scholarship winners
George Wythe senior Graham Dillon was one of the biggest winners among 33 recipients of scholarship awards announced last week by the Virginia State Golf Association.
Dillon won the 13th C. Dan Keffer Award, a $7,000 scholarship named in honor of the late Roanoker who served as longtime committee chairman of the scholarship foundation. Dillon, who played golf and soccer in high school is headed to Virginia.
Cave Spring senior Drew Board, who graduated first in his class and was a four-year letterman on the Knights' golf team, received a $4,000 scholarship. Board is headed to UVa.
Alex Hart, who helped Salem High School to the Group AA championship last October, received a $1,500 merit scholarship. Hart is UVa-bound.
Franklin County senior Jared Montgomery of Boones Mill was the recipient of a $1,000 merit scholarship. Montgomery is headed to Virginia Tech.
Blacksburg's Katelyn Venner, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, was awarded a $2,500 turfgrass grant.
The annual scholarships are awarded to students who have an interest in golf and who attend colleges and universities in the state.
Keeps on keeping on
Martinsville's Keith Decker just keeps getting better with age.
Decker, who turned 53 last month, has added a couple more pieces to his voluminous trophy case in the past few weeks. The venerable veteran won the 53rd Chatmoss Invitational for the 19th time last month on his home Chatmoss Country Club course, shooting 73-70 to clip Tazewell's Buck Brittain by a shot.
Last week in Lynchburg, Decker captured the Fox Puss Invitational crown at Boonsboro Country Club by birdieing five of the last eight holes to erase a four-shot deficit to Wytheville's David Schmidt. Decker, who had a final-round 70, finished with a 54-hole total of 1-under 215 to beat Schmidt and former winner Steven Liebler by two shots.
It was Decker's sixth Fox Puss crown, which tied the tournament record held by Vinny Giles, the legendary Virginia amateur Vinny Giles who happens to be Decker's "hero."
Jack Allara II also continues to get things done. The Salem resident posted even-par 216 to nip Yorktown's Allen Barber by a stroke for the Fox Puss senior division crown. ... Former Roanoke Valley Match Play champion Lee Fisher and Martinsville's Jack Adkins tied for fourth at Boonsboro. Forest teenager Zachary Bauchou was sixth. ... Ridgeway's Dylan Jensen, whose first-round 69 led the Chatmoss Invitational, had to settle for fourth, two shots behind champion Decker. Martinsville's Dustin Hussey (146) and Brandon Grogan (147) finished fifth and sixth, respectively. ... Blue Ridge's Bill Nunnenkamp was the Chatmoss senior division runner-up. Nunnenkamp's pair of 73s left him three shots behind winner Dave Davis of Greensboro, N.C.
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