Due to the weather, some customers may experience late delivery of The Roanoke Times. We apologize for the delay.
Drew Lagan is ready to take the next step toward accomplishing his goal of winning a state crown.
REBECCA BARNETT | The Roanoke Times
“If I play my best, I’m going to win the state championship,” said Cave Spring senior Drew Lagan, who competes in today’s 3A West Regional.
The Roanoke Times | File May
“I’m going to be playing college golf somewhere next year,” said Cave Spring’s Drew Lagan, shown teeing off during a practice round for the Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament in May.
Monday, October 7, 2013
At 5-foot-6, 135 pounds, Drew Lagan will be far from the biggest player who will tee it up in today’s 3A West region golf championship at Botetourt Golf & Swim Club.
However, no one in the field will be playing for larger stakes than the Cave Spring senior.
“This is my last shot to win a state championship,” Lagan said. “The road starts [today] in the regional, then hopefully it will continue in the state next week and I will get it done.
“My goal ever since I stepped into Cave Spring four years ago has been to win a state championship, and I’ve given it a few good runs. Now, it’s time to go get it done.
“I know this: If I play my best, I’m going to win the state championship.”
Cocky? Not hardly. Certainly, Lagan has plenty of reason to believe this is his time. He rolls into postseason crunch time as the hottest player in Timesland, winning individual titles in his past three starts. The latest run comes on the heels of a sizzling 6-under-par 66 that roasted his conference competition at Abingdon’s Glenrochie Golf Club.
The stoked Lagan has no plans to turn down the wick now.
In addition to playing for himself and his team, the fiery 18-year-old will be playing most importantly for the man who remains the biggest influence and presence in his young life.
“His name is Eddie Dowdy, my late grandfather,” said Lagan, referring to his mother Elizabeth’s father, who died of cancer during Lagan’s freshman year of high school in 2010.
“My granddad was the first person to ever put a golf club in my hand,’’ said Lagan, his voice level lowering to a golf-like hushed tone. “I was about 3, 3 1⁄2 years old. He played at Giles Country. When I was up there, he would always go out and play, and I would tag along and ride in the cart. That’s where I learned to play the game, that’s how I got my first set of clubs.
“More important than golf, though, my grandfather instilled so many life values in me. I owe it all to him because I wouldn’t be playing this game if he hadn’t begged me.”
Dowdy, who made his living running a jewelry store in downtown Pearisburg, certainly would approve of the glimmering diamond he left.
“I just know that he would be proud of me right now,’’ Lagan said.
“Since he’s left the earth I’ve thought about him. I think about him in everything I do, whether it’s golf or life.
“I know he’s up in heaven and there’s a window for him where he’s watching every move I make. I so want to do this for him. More than anything, I want to make him proud.”
Lagan, whose game suddenly spiraled following his grandfather’s death, has since made the long climb back from golf’s abyss.
“After state my freshman year, I got into all these swing issues ... something I had never seen,” he said. “I would stand over the ball with something like a simple 5-iron and I didn’t know if it was going to go 50 yards left or 50 yards right or straight. And straight was only about 10 percent of the time.
“It got really tough for a while. I wasn’t a good player anymore. I would go out to tournaments shooting 82 and it would almost feel like: ‘Thank God I got of out that one without shooting 90.’ ”
Thanks in large part to some swing work from former Roanoke County Club teaching pro Steve Slotterback, the little kid who had beaten everybody’s socks off on the Roanoke Valley Junior Tour in his preteen years recovered his game in a year’s time.
After missing Cave Spring’s trip to the state tournament in 2011 with a knee injury, the effervescent Lagan rebounded last year, tying for second in the Group AA tournament at Harrisonburg’s Lakeview Golf Club.
“I should have won the thing, honestly,’’ Lagan said. “I was tied for the lead after one round with Lord Botetourt’s Justin Nichols at 72. On the last day, I turned in 1 under and I’m in the lead. But I bogeyed the last two holes and wound up losing to Blacksburg’s Ryan Mondy, who shot 32 on the last nine and shot 67 coming off a first-day 78.”
Fellow seniors Alex Line and T.K. Garrett verify their team leader has a burning desire to win that’s just ready to ignite and blaze the trail this time.
“Man, Drew was in this low slump a few years ago but now he’s back on top and now he’s the best player in the state,” Line said.
Then, there’s the college thing. Despite a season that’s been primarily painted in red, sub-par rounds that have equated into four first-place finishes, Lagan has drawn little interest among college coaches.
“I’m surprised Drew hasn’t gotten more attention than he has,” Garrett said.
Lagan said he has some communication with coaches from James Madison, George Mason, Longwood and Ferrum, in particular.
“I think it was just that slump that did it for me,” Lagan said. “But my story is a good one. I’ve gone from on top to rock bottom to gently getting myself back up again. And golf takes resilience.
“I know a lot of coaches have got their players now. I may be a little late now, but that’s OK. No matter what, I’m going to be playing college golf somewhere next year.
“I don’t know how much it means to those college coaches, but it would mean the world to me to win a state championship. I want to do it for myself and my team.
“Most of all, though, I want to do it for my granddad. I wouldn’t be heading to the tee and playing this silly game with not for him.”
Weather JournalIcy mix moves in this Sunday AM