Stonewall trio advance to regionals
QUICKSBURG — Yash Desai had been struggling with his putting all day, but the Stonewall Jackson sophomore finally found his touch when it mattered most.
Desai made a short putt on the fourth playoff hole in the Conference 44 tournament Wednesday at Heritage Oaks Golf Course to secure a spot in the Region 1A East tournament.
I knew I had it, but I just needed to keep playing and keep putting,” Desai said of his putt on the fourth playoff hole. “I’ve been working on that all day. My short game messed me up all day. I’m just hoping to fix it by regionals.”
Desai and his sophomore teammates Nick Dotson and Lukas Fultz advanced to regionals as individuals on Wednesday. The Generals finished third as a team in the Conference 44 tournament with a 371. Luray won the tournament with 339, while Altavista was second (341). The top two teams and the top six individuals from the other teams advance to the regional tournament held at Hobbs Hole Golf Course in Tappahannock on Oct. 5.
Dotson and Fultz each shot a 91, while Desai shot a 93, which left him tied for the sixth and final spot with Riverheads’ Nick Schroers.
Desai and Schroers were tied after each of the first three playoff holes. On the fourth hole, a par 4, Desai just missed on his birdie attempt from the fringe from about 30 feet away. Schroers made a bogey, and then Desai was able to make a par putt from about three feet away.
“We’ve practiced a lot, all year, putting from fringe,” Stonewall Jackson coach Roger Wilkins said. “We talk about two-putting. Boy, did he nail that first putt. That won him the match.”
Fultz said he got off to a rough start, and that nerves got the better of him. However, he was able to get them under control and have a solid round.
“I just took a deep breath, and said ‘all right, let’s just have some fun with it,'” Fultz said. “I just went out there, didn’t take too many practice swings, didn’t think about it too much, just went out and hit the ball.”
He said it helps that the team plays on the course some during the regular season.
“It helps to know what shot you’re going to hit, and what club you’re going to need,” Fultz said. “You know what hole is coming up next, what you need to prepare for.”
Dotson said he also struggled some during his round. He said he lost focus during the middle part of the round, but managed to recover and finish strong.
“I fixed my tee shot. All day long I had been hitting drives into the woods and put myself in a bad starting spot,” Dotson said. “On hole 14, I finally hit a good drive, and that put me in a spot to where I got par. That allowed me to get par on four out of the next five holes.”
Dotson said he was surprised at how well he did considering he has only been playing golf for the last 18 months. He said he put in a lot of time in the offseason to get ready for his sophomore year.
“I worked extremely hard this summer and made golf a priority, and I’m glad to see it’s worked out for me,” he said.
Wilkins said he was very happy for the three that are moving on and for his entire young squad. The Generals had four sophomores, a freshman and a junior in the top six this season.
“I love my players. They’re good kids. We have fun,” Wilkins said. “To have three going to regionals, I’m very happy about that. It’s really good. I’m really proud of them.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org