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Ferguson Nabs Amateur Title; Myers, Wooddy and Taylor Take Senior Divisions In 83rd Roanoke Valley Match Play

John Hatcher Ferguson sets to tee off on #14 Sunday at Blue Hills on his way to the Amateur Division championship.

Move over cowboys.

There’s a new gunslinger in town.

Recent Franklin County High School graduate John Hatcher Ferguson didn’t flinch on the draw Sunday afternoon at Blue Hills Golf Club, winning the 83rd Roanoke Valley Match Play Amateur Division with a 2-and-1 victory over Roanoker Chase Bailey. It was Ferguson’s third straight signature win over two days that included wins over a couple of other notable names in Roanoke golf, Matt Chandler (4-and-3 on Saturday) and Brandon LaCroix (3-and-1 on Sunday morning).

“Matt didn’t quite have his game yesterday,” Ferguson noted beside the 17th green Sunday after topping Bailey. “That win allowed me to believe in myself. You learn from good players and beating Matt gave me confidence coming in today. It’s crucial to play a guy of that caliber and win early on. It gives you quite a boost.”

Bailey was hanging tough Sunday before the Gods of golf reared their head at the par-4 16th. Facing  a long uphill birdie putt after Ferguson had hit his second shot stiff, Bailey’s roll went straight into the jar, peeked at the bottom, then spun out after a 360 degree dance. Bailey could only watch in disbelief and head to the par-3 17th two down after Ferguson converted his birdie putt.

Ferguson’s win continued a great summer run that had included a win in the VSGA Junior Match Play in Richmond.

“The win in Richmond gave me a good idea what has to happen in match play,” Ferguson, who is heading to Hampden-Sydney later this month, added. “I’ve been working on a lot of stuff over the last couple months. Overall, I’ve been real happy with my game and going to continue to try to get better.”

In other finals action Sunday, Keith Myers outlasted Tim Moore 2-and-1 in the Senior Division, while Chipps Wooddy topped L.B. Bailey 5-and-4 to take the Super Senior title.

Marvin Taylor watches his approach shot at #13 Sunday as he defeated Ned Baber in the Grand Masters division 3-and-1.

In the 75-and-older Grand Master Championship, a pair of former insurance executives and multiple winners in the Match Play tournament battled it out before Marvin Taylor edged friend Ned Baber 3-and-1.

“I don’t think we battled it out,” Taylor said with a huge chuckle as both players sat in the cart afterward. “We’re too old to battle anything. Ned and I both played so-so today, but we had fun.”

“That was fun?,” Baber responded, getting a jab at Taylor.

After some discussion, Taylor revealed this was his third RVMP title, while the number credited to Baber was rounded off as “too many to count”; Baber’s actual total is an impressive 9 former wins, including back-to-back Amateur titles in 1969 and 1970, a pair of Master titles and 5 Grand Master championships.

The Roanoke Valley Match Play Championship began in 1935, and has gone by different names through those years.

“We had 65 players this year,” RVMP board member Sam Taylor noted Sunday. “While the number is down slightly, the quality of players this year is as good as ever. We’re very pleased.

Our committee starts working in January to put this together. We credit a lot to the club pros and course superintendents who get the courses set up to make this tournament a success. And, our two major sponsors, Valley Distributing and Associated Packaging, along with a lot of other important sponsors make it all work. This tournament started with only one division, but as everyone got older and kept playing, we’re now up to 4 divisions to keep it interesting.”

Bill Turner

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