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Blacksburg graduate Jake Mondy takes on the Cascades in the 100th VSGA Amateur Championship.
Courtesy of Steven Colquitt
Jake Mondy, shown here in the SEC Golf Championship on April 20 at St. Simons Island, Ga., is defending his VSGA amateur title this week at The Homestead.
Monday, June 24, 2013
Two-time U.S. Open champion and World Golf Hall of Famer Curtis Strange is scheduled to attend tonight’s celebration dinner for the 100th VSGA Amateur Championship in Hot Springs.
Blacksburg’s Jake Mondy says he’s exciting about having a shot to meet Strange during the festivities at The Homestead.
“My dad actually grew up playing golf with Curtis Strange every day, they lived right down the street from each other [in Norfolk]. So I’ve heard a few Curtis Strange stories,” Mondy said.
“I think he might recognize the last name, hopefully.”
If the ESPN/ABC golf analyst has done his homework, he will know the name. After all, Mondy is the championship defender.
Following tonight’s centennial bash, Mondy will commence work Tuesday on trying to join Strange in the VSGA record book as the 13th player ever to win back-to-back titles. Strange pulled the double in 1974-75, the first coming at Roanoke Country Club.
“It would be pretty cool,” said Mondy, an All-SEC Freshman team performer this past season at Auburn. “After winning it the first time you kind of have to pinch yourself after you do it, and to do it at Bayville where my dad last saw me ... I don’t think that will ever be topped even if I win this one or who knows how many more.”
For strong reason, too.
Mondy’s trumph last year at Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach read like a Hollywood movie script.
Playing on the same course where his late father, Dave Jr., watched him strike a golf ball for the last time, Mondy capped a surreal week by downing Tazewell’s Buck Brittain 4 and 2 in the title match.
The triumph couldn’t have been sweeter for Mondy. The last time he played the course, representing the Virginias team in the Captain’s Putter Matches in October 2010, was also the final time his father saw him swing a club. Two weeks later, Dave Mondy Jr. succumbed to a heart attack at 56.
“Not only was it the last time he saw me play golf, but also it was the last time I ever saw him,” Mondy said. “So I guess it was a little bit of a life lesson there. Take your opportunities when you can get them.
“When I sent in my Amateur entry, I started to think ‘wow, that would be pretty cool if somehow this could be pulled off.’ And as the week went on, the thoughts about my father were definitely coming more and more toward the front of my mind. If I had a big putt or something, I would think about him for a second or look up to the sky for a little something just to try and clear my mind. And it was working for me all week. I know he was watching and helping me every step of the way.
“So Bayville has got a special place in my heart. It will be always be there.”
Now comes the mountains of Bath County and the revered 90-year-old Cascades, long recognized as one of America’s top 100 courses.
“Dad could have given me some tips on this place,” said Mondy, speaking Friday after getting his first look of the 6,627-yard gem designed by William Flynn.
“I think he played in a couple of State Ams back when it was there every year. I know my Grandpa [David Mondy Sr.] actually played in it, too, way back in the day when it was there.”
His first impression of the Cascades?
“It’s different. It’s definitely not like what we see in college,’’ Mondy said. “You’ve got to adjust your game and be able to adapt to the conditions.
“I like playing courses where you can look and see that they really didn’t move much land to build the golf course. They kind of just worked with what the land gave them. They’re really beautiful to walk around and to play, and will be a good challenge and be fun.”
Mondy, 20, who won the first tournament he teed it up in college last September, won’t have to battle the heat like last year on the coast.
“Shade was a little bit hard to come by at Bayville last year,’’ said Mondy, laughing. “I can find some shade on a few holes here.”
The grind to the title starts Tuesday with the first of two rounds of stroke-play qualifying. Following Wednesday’s round, the 132-player field will be cut to the low 32 for Thursday’s start of match play.
“It’s a par-70, I could see somebody probably shoot 64 one day,” Mondy said. “The greens were soft [Friday]. I don’t know if they will firm out any before we start. But, definitely low numbers are out there because you’ve got mid-irons, low-irons into every hole.
“The last four holes are great match-play finishing holes. You’ve got the long par-3 [No. 15], where par can win you a hole ... then you’ve got two par-5s [Nos. 16-17] back to back and then a par-3 finisher is always interesting in match play. It will be fun.”
History says the favorite i s Virginia Beach’s Brinson Paolini, the only player ever to win the title three years in a row (2008-10). It figures to be his last shot at the crown for the foreseeable future as he plans to turn professional before the end of the summer .
Win or lose, Paolini will go out playing his favorite course in the state.
“I can’t think of a better place for the celebration and the important competition,” Paolini said. “There’s no doubt that the Cascades will require good ball-striking and a sharp short game.”
Besides Mondy, top area threats include Hardy’s Matt Chandler, last year’s VSGA Mid-Amateur champion and recently crowned Roanoke Valley Hall of Fame victor, plus Martinsville’s Keith Decker, the venerable veteran who captured the title in 1988 and 1991.
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