By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- A heavy fog hung over the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, and persisted for nearly an hour after the 9 a.m. tee time Thursday for the teams from 24 high schools entered in the 11th annual Curly Licklider Memorial Invitational Tournament.
With the four highest scores from each six-player team counting, Tuscarora took top honors with a combined 456 strokes, and Broad Run finished second with 460.
Sherando scored 500, Strasburg tallied 517, Skyline finished at 541, and Warren County 652 in the tournament, unique for Virginia prep players in being their only 27-hole, par-107 event, with golf carts authorized.
The course was designed by renowned golf course architect Raymond Loving, and consists of three separate nine-hole courses -- Blue (par 36), White (par 35) and Red (par 36).
A sudden-death playoff was needed to resolve the tie for first-place medalist between Desiree Razon of Broad Run and Robbie Failes of Spotswood, who carded 107s.
The playoff was held on the par-3, 307-yard, Red No. 1 hole, which Failes succeeded in completing in three strokes, while Razon needed four to get her ball in the cup.
Ian Hildebrand of Loudoun Valley was one stroke behind at 108 to take third, Caleb Keel of Tuscarora took fourth with 110, and Loudoun Valley's Scott Manpower captured fifth place with 112.
Sherando's No. 1 player Chris Slater, a rising senior, turned in a 117 outing.
"Actually I'm not real happy [with my score]," Slater said. "I actually started off bad. I was five over through the first five holes. But I got my act together on the White, with a 35, and for Red I shot 38, but fell apart with a 44 on Blue, where I started, so it raised my score a bit.
"The early damp conditions had something to do with the bad start because the putts were rolling really slow and I wasn't used to dealing with it, which resulted in some three-putts. I recovered with five birdies on White and Red."
Strasburg's No. 1, rising senior Jared Werner, explained that he didn't have a particularly good day either, finishing at 127.
"I had a problem with inaccuracies with second shots -- I was missing left or right, short or long," Werner said. "For 12 or 13 holes, I had a bogey streak, and my putting was kind of streaky. My driving distance often left me with between-clubs choices for approach shots. But I recovered OK towards the end of the day."
But rising junior Tyler Doman, Strasburg's No. 2, shot a respectable 118.
"Once it got hotter, the conditions got firmer and the greens weren't as soft," Doman said. "My putting worked really well. It's what saved me. I would hit a bad approach shot, then I'd get on the green and make a good putt. I had three birdies on the Blue course. I've worked really hard on my putting, and changed my putting stance since last year."
Skyline No. 1, Joe Dawkins, a rising senior, carded a 131.
"It's not the best I've played," Dawkins said. "I just had a couple of bad holes. Everything was there, I just wasn't getting good lies or a good bounce. I would hit a good shot, but then get a bad bounce. But today helped me see what I need to work on."
"Because it's 27 holes and carts are used, the results can't be used for district or regional standings, so it's all for the benefit of the players," host Warren County athletic director Jim Grooms said. "The kids love this tournament. It's all about the kids, as a special way for most of them to start the season. They enjoy the focus required to go 27 holes, and they enjoy using the carts.
"Buck Smith, my predecessor as AD, Curley Hazelette [then golf coach] and Richard Runyon [Shenandoah Valley Golf Club general manager] got together to organize the first Curly Licklider tournament. Curly Licklider played golf, and other sports, at Warren County, but he loved and taught golf. He died prematurely, and left his wife, Terry, and sons Wes and Cody."