Chandler Aces Amateur Division, Baber Takes Senior Title In Roanoke Valley Match Play

Miller Baber watches his tee shot at Hidden Valley’s par-3 7th during the Roanoke Valley Match Play Championship. Baber won the Senior Division, adding to his 4 prior Amateur titles in the event.

Matt Chandler was still reflective Sunday afternoon after winning the Roanoke Valley Match Play Amateur Division Championship at Hidden Valley Country Club.

Chandler had knocked off former champion Justin Young in the morning’s semifinal round, 3 and 2, before dispatching 2010 champion Brandon Lacroix 3 and 1 in the afternoon final.

Key wins that dictated the championship? Nope. Chandler was still pointing to his opening match on Friday where he held on for dear life against 31st seed Adam McGarrell.

“That first match was the big one,” Chandler said outside HVCC while holding the crystal winner’s trophy, his second RVMP title. “In that first match, I got lucky. I probably didn’t deserve to win that one.”

But, Chandler chipped in from no man’s land to the right of the 15th green at Hidden Valley to pull the rabbit out of the hat and advance. So goes match play tournaments.

“Match play is a different breed,” Chandler noted. “You can play well and get beat, you can be off your game and still win.”

Chandler’s Sunday semifinal win over Young was viewed by many as a key hurdle for the Hardy native and former pro.

“Justin and I have run into each other in golf on a number of occasions.,” Chandler pointed out. “I was fortunate today. Justin didn’t play as well as he could and I held on.”

In the afternoon final LaCroix, a 1-up winner over Kyle Bailey in the morning semifinal, came back from 4-down to win Nos. 13 and 14 to make things interesting. Impressive comeback since Chandler had thrown the big punch on Hidden Valley’s uphill par-3 11th by bouncing his tee shot into the jar for a hole-in-one. LaCroix had chances to get closer on 15 and 16 without success, and Chandler closed the match out at the par-4 17th.

So, what’s next for the new champ?

“I may play in the Mid Atlantic later, but first I’m going to take a few weeks off and enjoy this win.”

In the senior division (ages 50-64), a familiar name added a new title to his already-banked four amateur division championships. Miller Baber rolled through the field and held off Jeff Connor 3 and 2 in Sunday’s final.

You could make a good case that being among the top-4 senior seeds was no place to be, as Sunday’s semifinal play began with Conner, Baber, Frank Moore and Jim Wright rounding out the final-4 as the 5 through 8th seeds, respectfully. Baber held up, ousting Moore in the semifinal round before knocking off Conner.

“I played pretty well and putted really well this weekend,” a smiling Baber noted. “Today, I made a tough curler on the 16th to close out the match. Four amateur wins and now a senior win; I guess match play is a good strength of mine. Now, I’ll figure out what I’ll play in next.”

In the Super Senior ages 65-74 division final, 8th seed Carl Leonard pulled off what could be called an upset when he defeated #2 seed Bill Nunnenkamp, 3 and 2. Leonard had advanced to Sunday’s final after a 3 and 2 victory over #12 seed Chip Fitch, while Nunnenkamp reached the final by closing out Al Looney at Hidden Valley’s #13 with the 6 and 5 win.

2-seed Barrett Cawood captured the 75-above Grand Master title with a 4 and 2 win over #1 seed and longtime state golf icon Ned Baber on Saturday. Cawood had advanced to the final with his 3 and 2 win over #3 seed Bill Shrader, while Baber topped 4-seed Wade Nystrom 2-up in the semifinal round.

Bill Turner