Those on the Roanoke Valley golf scene whom didn’t know the name Jason Spaar a few days ago certainly do now.
In what has to rank as the most monumental upset in Hall of Fame men’s 46-year championship history, Spaar fired a final round of 4-under-par 67 at Blue Hills to shock five-time champion Matt Chandler and capture his biggest crown ever.
“Yeah, I haven’t won a tournament this size so it feels pretty good and I’m pretty happy!” said Spaar, who did what most figured Chandler would do to him in the final-round pressure.
“The only thing else I’ve won is the men’s club championship out here,” said Spaar, a former William Byrd High golfer who works part time in the Blue Hills pro shop.
“This was only the second bogey-free round of my life, actually. So, yeah, I was playing pretty [darn] good … and, man, I had a blast out there!
No kidding. Never making a mistake, the rail-thin 5-foot-11, 145-pound Spaar had only one bogey in the rain-shortened event’s 36 holes.
Chandler, a 36-year-old ex-mini tour professional, saw more than enough this day of the rising sophomore on Bridgewater College’s golf team.
“Impressive! Very impressive!” said Chandler, who had won five of the past six HOF titles, including a record four straight.
“I wish I could have put some pressure on him but I didn’t,” said Chandler who settled for a final-round 71. “To be honest, if I put pressure on him I don’t know if it would have done any good or not. He played great and he deserved it.”
Spaar jumped the heavy favorite right off the get-go, chipping in for birdie at par-3 No. 2. On the next hole, Spaar stuck his approach on to within 5 inches for a tap-in birdie.
“After that,” said Chandler, “I never really got close to him to put any pressure on him. Honestly, I don’t think if I did that it would have mattered. He’s solid, man. I don’t think he made a bogey the whole week!
Chandler gave the underdog more fuel when he missed a short putt on the short par-4 No. 7.
“It just kinda derailed me,” Chandler said. “I couldn’t make [anything.] Even if I had I don’t know if it would have been enough. He was rock solid.”
The kid never backed off the accelerator.
“I didn’t miss a fairway until the last hole,” Spaar said. “I probably only missed two greens. It was the second bogey-free round of my life. And I had only one bogey at Blacksburg in the first round.”
Entering the day, Chandler said he figured that 71 wouldn’t be good enough to win. He was right.
“Jason can play a whole lot,” Chandler said. “I didn’t put any pressure on anybody this week. It was very unique circumstances the whole weekend and I never really got my mind focused around playing golf. I never could wrap my head around it [Saturday] and all today.
“Not to take anything away from Jason, however, because he played awesome!”
Spaar, who played his high school golf at Byrd, said the huge triumph will be a huge confidence booster for him.
“Last year at the Roanoke Valley Match Play, the newspaper man here called me ‘the relatively unknown Jason Spaar,’” said the kid, breaking into laughter.
“So now I’ve come from relatively unknown to a champion! I love it!”
Roanoke Country Club’s Vince Wheeler shot 70 to tie Chandler for second at 143.
“I’m pretty happy with it. … I think I was fifth or sixth last year,” noted Wheeler, a Roanoke Country Club member who plays on the golf team at Rhodes College in Tennessee.
Two-time champion Brandon LaCroix, who played with a stitched-up finger that was cut by a broken glass when he was emptying the dishwasher Saturday night at his home, battled his way to a 71 that left him in fourth.
Led by Wheeler, RCC captured the team championship by two shots over Blacksburg Country Club.