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Jake Mondy was 2-up with two holes to play in regulation, but lost to Ji Soo Park in a semifinal playoff.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
HOT SPRINGS — Total euphoria to big-time heartbreak.
Those words aptly tell Jake Mondy’s story in his past two VSGA Amateur appearances.
Last year, Monday followed a Hollywood-like script to win the title for his late father, Dave, at Virginia Beach’s Bayville Golf Club, the last place his dad saw him play golf.
Friday, Mondy saw his hopes to repeat crumble when he squandered a 2-up lead with two holes left in the semifinals and lost on the first hole of a playoff to surging Ji Soo Park.
“Yeah, this one is going to hurt. It’s a match I shouldn’t have lost,” said Mondy, still locked in quasi-shock minutes after his late collapse ended his bid to become only the ninth player in 100 years to win back-to-back state amateur crowns.
“We both played well. I hate for it to end that way where I gave him the match at the end.”
After birdieing the par-5 16th with a superb up and down from behind the green to go 2-up and place Park at dormie, Mondy looked like a lock to meet opening semifinal victor Brinson Paolini in today’s 36-hole title match.
“Yeah, I might have lost a bit of money on that!” Mondy said.
Mondy’s unexpected demise was triggered at the par-5 17th, when he dumped a 9-iron second shot into a left greenside bunker and failed to make birdie.
“I mean I had 9-iron to the par-5,” Mondy said. “You can’t make par from there. It’s an easy par-4.”
Park, who had put his second shot in the same bunker, hit the sand shot of his life to a foot to rescue a birdie that kept the match alive.
One-down going to the par-3 18th, Park’s tee shot was deep and his ball shot 40 feet past the hole to the back fringe.
Mondy, who left an 8-iron short in the front left bunker, blasted to 12 feet and saw his par-saving putt slide just south of the jar. Park routinely saved par from the back of the green to send the two players back to the first tee for the playoff.
Smelling blood, Park ripped a driver down the pipe on the par-4 hole. From there, he hit a low-flying, dead-hands 60-degree wedge in which his ball hit the green and then stuck within 5 feet of the cup.
After Mondy missed his uphill 15-footer for birdie, the Blacksburg native told his good friend and foe Park: “Knock it in.” Mondy then took off his hat in concession as Park lined up the match-closing putt. Park drilled the slightly downhill straight-in putt dead-center in the hole.
“Yeah, it was over. He was going to make it the whole time,” said Mondy, who had advanced to the semis with a 6-and-5 rout over Hopewell’s Jeremy Wells in the morning.
“I mean you can’t give good players a second chance. When you get him dormie, you have to either birdie the next hole or make a good par from the middle of the fairway. It’s an easy birdie and I just didn’t do it. Kudos to him for taking advantage of it. I couldn’t lose to a better guy.”
Park, the 2011 runner-up to Scott Shingler, will get a shot for his first title when he faces three-time champion Paolini in today’s scheduled 36-hole championship match.
“Scott Shingler is a really good player, but Brinson has won this three times in a row [2008-10],” Park said of Paolini, who is turning professional later this summer.
“That will give me pressure and all that and I’m nervous. But I can learn a lot from a player like that. It’s going to be big.”
The victory over Mondy was Park’s third consecutive match win in a playoff. He came from 2-down to beat Shingler in the second round, plus rallied to take down Virginia Tech’s Bryce Chalkley in 20 holes in the quarterfinals.
Paolini advanced with a hard-earned 1-up win in Friday morning’s quarterfinals over Forest’s Zachary Bauchou, the co-qualifying medalist with Chalkley. “This being the centennial, it would be amazing to win,” said Paolini, who outlasted former Virginia Tech standout Mikey Moyers in the semifinals. “It would mean as much, if not more than the first three, so hopefully I can give myself a chance.”
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