Loy takes second in Licklider tourney

FRONT ROYAL — Last week, Brett Loy’s dad, James, asked his son to join his sister at a nearby theme park — just for a day — to get his mind off of golf.

The junior Loy answered predictably: “I can’t Dad. I’ve got work to do.”

Such is what James Loy has gotten used to hearing from his son, the Sherando High School junior, who won the Virginia Group 4A state championship last year as a sophomore.

The younger Loy became a member at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club near here in April, and by his own admission, has no idea of how many rounds of the sport he has played since ending his previous season on top. For the last two summers he has participated on junior circuits which have taken him around the country, honing his game.

“I said, ‘C’mon, Brett, just this one time.’ He wouldn’t do it,” said a smiling James Loy Wednesday.

The “work” paid off as the 5-foot-10, 150-pound lefthander finished with a 4-under-par 103 on the 3,000-plus yard course, good enough for runner-up individual medalist at the 15th annual Curly Licklider Golf Tournament. The event traditionally opens the season for area high-school golf. Each golfer played 27 consecutive holes without a break.

Loy knocked down nine birdies — finishing under par on a third of his total holes. A missed birdie putt on the final cost him what might have been a playoff for individual honors.

This year 26 teams competed for the crown; so, along with finishing runnerup to Loudoun Valley senior Brandon Weaver (6-under 101), Loy also helped his team finish No. 2 behind the champion Vikings. Weaver defended his Licklider first-place medal from a year ago. He also happens to be the defending Virginia 3A state titleist.

Loy shot even par on this course in this event a year ago — good enough for fourth-place individually — while the Warriors ended the event in third place.

Because the Vikings have moved up a division to 4A-at Sherando’s level, this will not be the last time two of the state’s better golfers will face each other. Ditto for their teams. By several estimations, this was the first of probably three head-to-head regular-season competitions for the Warriors and the Vikings. They will also face each other in the regional bid.

But that tournament is down the line. For now, Loy is taking it one day at a time, much as he has in a life filled with golf. This suits veteran Sherando coach Rob Wright.

“That guy right there, he’s a great leader,” Wright said. Pointing to Loy prior to the post-match awards ceremonies.

Loy may think of his individual play as “work” because he is always trying to improve. But team play, he added, is the fun part of the sport.

“I moved out [to the Shenandoah Valley club] this April, so I’ve found that I’m a lot more comfortable around the greens. I worked every day this summer, but playing with a team is fun because we’re all friends, and I’m doing my best to lead them,” Loy said.

In the shotgun format event, each foursome started simultaneously off one of the 18 tees throughout the course. The top four scorers for each team had their rounds added together to come up with a cumulative team score.

Sherando, which returns five of its top six golfers, including its leading four, obviously produced the lowest team score of the four area teams involved. Those groups included the Warriors, Strasburg, (host) Warren County and Skyline.

The Rams shot a local second-best 514. The Hawks were next at 567 and the Wildcats shot a 573. Though the ‘Cats were fourth among four, the group shaved a whopping 55 shots of last season’s final of 628.

“This was just the second day of the season and, even though we have some seniors, several of them were playing their first match,” said Strasburg Coach Jordan Hardy. “There’s a big difference between just going out to score and playing in a match. There’s a lot of rules involved with this, and the only way to learn them is to do it. It’s a learning process and what we hope is, we get better every time out.”

Sherando at 457 fell 20 shots off Loudoun Valley’s 437 first-place pace, “which is good for us,” Wright said. “That gives us 20 shots to make up on them as the season wears on.”

But, as much as anything, Wright said the Licklider is a fun way to begin the season. Not only do the myriad of teams get to try each other out, every golfer was provided a seat in a cart by the golf club, which fed the groups breakfast and early dinner, along with Warren County providing medals for the winning individuals and teams.

“We were talking about this the other day and I just told them to go out and have some fun,” said Wright. “You know, sometimes we forget they’re just 16- and 17-year-olds.”

Most everyone agrees that Loy plays beyond his years.

His grandfather said Loy has been “playing at” golf since he was a youngster, using blow-up plastic clubs and a nerf ball.

“We used to watch TV with him when he was little and he would chatter away until we put the television on the golf channel. Then he’d get quiet,” said Connie Loy.