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Balanced Rams claim county title

By Dennis Atwood - sports@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Host Strasburg got 82s from three players and shot a team score of 331 to repeat as Shenandoah County prep golf champion, over Stonewall Jackson at 340 and Central's 349 on the par-72, 18-hole, Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Course on Thursday.

Central's Ben Kline had an adventure on the ninth hole on the way to winning low-medalist honors with a 79.

Kline's tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 hole landed in a favorable lie in the fairway, but a group not involved in the county tri-meet that had just finished the hole drove a cart to Kline's ball and apparently picked it up and moved on because none of his foursome could find it after an extensive search.

An initial ruling was made that Kline should play two balls, one from the assumed original lie and another from the tee. Kline explained that the final ruling was very much in his favor.

"I probably could have taken a nap while they were making that ruling," Kline said. "We saw the ball laying there [after the shot] but when we got up to it, it wasn't there. I got a four on the first ball and a seven on the second, so I was really pleased that they ruled that I could use the score on the [replaced] first ball.

"It was just another hole -- another shot. It's probably 90 percent a head game. On the next hole [par-3 10th], I went off the back and chipped back up and I think I double-bogied.

"I was pretty pleased [with my round]. I had two double-bogies and a birdie I chipped in on 11 [par-4, 392 yards] and that kind of saved me a little bit. I shot an 81 here about a month ago, in a [Bull Run] district mini-tournament."

Additional medalist awards were earned by Andrew Good of Stonewall Jackson for his second-best 80, while third went to three Strasburg golfers who all shot 82s -- Jared Werner, Tyler Doman and Jacob Smith -- and Stonewall Jackson's Ben Rosenberger and Strasburg's Rob Creekmur tied at 85 for individual fourth-place honors.

Good stroked an even 40/40 for the Generals.

"I had three birdies on the back that saved me," Good said. "I also had a triple-bogey after I got into some trouble off the tee, then went into a bunker and three-putted on No. 15 [par-4, 419 yards]. But after that I went birdie-par-birdie, so I rebounded good. That was the only real trouble I got into. I didn't chip very well today and I didn't save any pars. I was just two-putting for bogey a lot. I'm not too upset with it, but it could have been better."

The Rams' Werner went 40/42 and struggled on his way to the greens for much of day.

"I wouldn't call [my round] bad, [and] I wouldn't call it good," Werner said. "It was just one of those days where I saved the round with my putter.

"I made quite a few decent length putts to save par. My long game wasn't very good, but I made up for it with my putter. Blue Ridge [Shadows] probably plays three to four strokes harder than any other course in the area, just because the way it's set up."

Strasburg coach Rick Bowley mentioned the Rams' emphasis on the short game.

"[Putting] is a big emphasis for us and [Werner's] worked at it very hard, so it's nice for him to be able to see some results with that today," Bowley said. "As it turned out, 82 was somewhat of a theme for us today. Three 82s and an 85 is a pretty nice result.

"Consistency is one of our themes. We're trying to find where were comfortable playing and on a given day our one-through-four players can easily be switched in order and to see what works best for us in terms of chemistry and things like that.

"We like Blue Ridge Shadows. It's our home course and we think it's fair and challenging, so maybe that helped us, and we also played pretty well. A lot of the players -- ours and other teams' -- say this course is several strokes more difficult than a lot of the others in the area. I've been told that the course is rated at a 75 level of difficulty, so that's pretty challenging."

Rosenberger, with an 85 at No. 5, and Eric Arnesen, with 89 at No. 6, along with an 86 by Jonathan Koontz, made key contributions to Stonewall Jackson's second-place finish.

Looking to the future, Stonewall Jackson won the B-team competition with a score of 173, compiled by Kory Somers (86) and Jason Albert (87). Strasburg was at 215, and Central tallied 227.

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