Young Turns Championship Around With One Swing
October 5, 2015 | Vero Beach, Fla.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
For Justin Young, what a difference a few hours – and one swing – meant to his outlook.
“I went to bed last night hating life, and woke up this morning loving it,” said the 37-year-old from Roanoke, Va., who got into the 64-man match-play field by birdieing the 180-yard, par-3 13th hole. About six hours later, he birdied the hole again, this time to forge a 2-up lead over co-medalist Matt Parziale, of Brockton, Mass.
Parziale had shot 70-69 in stroke play, while Young shot 75-74, a full 10 strokes higher. Young’s dour outlook on Sunday evening was a result of his finish: bogey-double bogey-par, which took him from 3 over and comfortably inside the top 64 to possibly on the outside looking in.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster the last 24 hours,” said Young, who is playing in his first Mid-Amateur after three previous tries. “I had [a match-play berth] in the bag until the last three holes. I felt like I beat myself that day. But luckily, I had another day.”
He was one of 22 players who finished at 6-over-par 149, and when two of them failed to show up on Monday morning, 20 golfers took their best shot at snagging one of the two remaining match-play berths. The competitors played in groups of four, with those finishing the hole waiting to see how they stood.
“As soon as I found out I was in it, I said all it takes is one shot,” said Young, who was in the second-to-last group of players. “I got to the driving range, trying to rehearse that shot about 15 times. I was joking with [co-medalist] Scott Harvey, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have a walk-off hole-in-one? Twenty years from now, no one’s going to remember who won the Mid-Am, but everyone’s going to remember if I make a walk-off hole-in-one.”
A birdie 2 sufficed, after he knocked “a little 6-iron” to 8 feet. But exactly how Parziale and Young arrived at the first tee early Monday afternoon meant little, particularly when Young took a quick 1-up lead with a par. He never trailed in the match, and his second birdie of the day on No. 11 started a string of six consecutive holes when he and Parziale traded wins that bounced his advantage between 2 up and 1 up.
Parziale squared the match for the final time when he parred No. 18 and Young, who is battling a strained right pectoral muscle this week, failed to get up and down after he bunkered his tee shot.
The match ended on the first extra hole, when, as was customary all day, Parziale outdrove Young, but bunkered his short approach after Young found the middle of the green.
“He gave me one back there with his second shot,” said Young, who hit 6-iron to Parziale’s wedge approach on the extra hole. “That was probably his first bad shot of the day, honestly.”
Parziale failed to get up and down from the bunker, and Young’s two-putt par sealed his berth in the Round of 32 at 8:50 a.m. against fellow Virginia resident Pat Tallent, 62, a 1-up winner over Bowen Osborn.
“I was really happy to make it through and end up being the [co-]medalist,” said Parziale, who missed out in a playoff for a match-play spot in his previous Mid-Am start in 2013. “But it started all over today. Match play’s a different game – I love it, but it’s tough when you lose.”
“He hit the ball great, but I made the putts,” said Young.
He also made the birdie that overcame all the missteps on the three closing holes on Sunday.
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.