Trio ready for state golf tourneys

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

Three local golfers will be playing in their first state golf tournament starting Monday.

Sherando sophomore Brett Loy, Central junior Joseph Plauger and Strasburg junior Colten Smith are playing in their respective two-day state tourneys.

Loy will be playing in the Group 4A state tournament at Ivy Hills Golf Course in Forest. Plauger will also be playing at Ivy Hills in the Group 3A state tournament. Smith will play in the Group 2A state tournament at Glenrochie Country Club in Abingdon. Each of them finished either first or second in their respective regions.

Loy played at Ivy Hills Golf Course in the Region 4A North tournament last week, where he finished second with a two-under 70.

“I guess you could say Brett was spot on,” Sherando coach Rob Wright said. “His chipping and putting was superb. He had no trouble with his drives and his club selection was right on.”

Wright said already having played on the course and having success on it can only help Loy at the state tournament.

“I think playing the same course will only help Brett’s chance to succeed,” Wright said. “The first time he played the course, it seemed to fit his eye. He was able to develop a good game plan, and I have noticed the more Brett plays a course, the more he likes it.”

Loy won the Northwestern District title earlier this season, and had plenty of success last year as a freshman where he qualified for regionals.

Wright said that Loy’s dedication and confidence have helped him elevate his game even more this season.

“The time Brett puts in to improving his game is unbelievable,” Wright said. “We will practice for 18 holes and he will go back out when we are done. Small things, like cleaning clubs and grips every night and developing games to keep it fun and real. If he notices a flaw in his game, he will go to the range and work it out. When he steps to the first tee, he knows he can beat his opponent.

“He seems to thrive on the competition. He always asked about other scores to be sure he is doing okay. If not, he turns it up.”

Like Loy, Plauger made regionals last year and has now advanced to his first state tournament.

Plauger also finished second in the Region 3A East tournament with a 74 at Brickshire Golf Club in New Kent last week.

Central coach Jeff Walters said Plauger really studied up on the golf course and it paid off.

“Obviously, he had an awesome day down there,” Walters said. “He made charts and diagrams of the course. He came up with a plan of attack, and he stuck with the game plan. He showed a lot of discipline. His goal wasn’t to win the tournament, his was just to move on. He approached things in a different way.”

Walters said Plauger played a very smart round, and this year he’s done a good job of salvaging a good round even when his game is a little off.

Walters said he’s been very pleased with his approach to things this week leading up to the state tournament.

“He has a healthy approach, he’s just looking at this as the icing on the cake,” Walters said. “He just wants to play his best and let the chips fall where they may. He knows it’s good just being here and this is his reward.”

Walters said they will get a practice round Sunday, and then try to come up with a game plan for Monday and Tuesday.

Walters said he believes Plauger is the sixth Central golfer since the early 1980s to advance to state. With another year of high school golf ahead, this should be a great experience for Plauger.

“Last year he made regionals and so he knew what to expect this year,” Walters said. “We’ve talked about this is a new experience for him. We’ll see how adjusts to it. It’s a little bit bigger stage. …He has a good approach to it.”

Smith won the Region 2A East golf tournament at Heritage Oaks Golf Course last week. He shot an even par 70 to win by a stroke, despite some brutal winds.

One key for Smith was his putting, which he had struggled with some this season. Strasburg coach Jordan Hardy said a key to Smith’s game is getting the ball in the fairway.

“If he can get his ball in the fairway he usually scores pretty well,” Hardy said. “He hits short irons really well. It’s just about getting the ball in the fairway. He does a good job of managing the course.”

Hardy said from the pictures they’ve seen it appears Glenrochie Country Club has some tricky greens, and is a little like Shenandoah Valley Golf Club and Blue Ridge Shadows in Front Royal.

Winning the regional tournament against some very good competition will surely help give Smith confidence at the state level, and Hardy said it also helps that Smith plays other sports. Smith also plays baseball for the Rams.

“I think being a multi-sport athlete, like a lot of those guys, he understands how to deal with pressure situations,” Hardy said. “You have to go out and play your game. Whether it’s a regional tournament, or just a regular 18-hole match, you have to go out and do your best and stick to your game plan. And do what you have to do to be successful.”

Smith will tee off on the first hole at 9:20 a.m. today. Plauger will tee off at 10 a.m. on the first hole. Loy will tee off at 10 a.m. from the 10th hole.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com