New format leads to more winners in Apple Blossom Pro-Am

Yong Joo tees off during the Apple Blossom Pro Am golf tournament Wednesday afternoon at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – There were some familiar faces and some new ones at the top of the leader board at the 2016 Apple Blossom Pro-Am golf tournament Wednesday at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club.

The tournament had a new format this year, as the groups were divided up into three separate flights, all of which teed off at the same time in a shotgun start. Each flight had its own professional champion and group champions. In the past there was only one professional and team champion.

The low score of the day came from Kent Graham, who shot a 67 playing on the white and blue course. It was Graham’s first time playing on the course.

Graham is a pro at the Army/Navy Country Club in Arlington.

“I hit it really well,” Graham said of his round. “I hit the driver really well, which was a plus. I was able to kind of score pretty well. Other than that it was a pretty good team event. I had some fun.”

Dirk Schultz watches his ball while teeing off during the Apple Blossom Pro Am Golf tournament at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Graham said he had six birdies and two bogeys. Graham said he finished the day with a birdie on White 6, which is a Par 4.

“I actually drove it just over the green and was able to chip it back and get a birdie,” Graham said. “It’s always good to finish on a birdie.”

One familiar winner continued his winning ways on Wednesday. Yong Joo, a Maurertown resident, won the Red/White division by shooting a 68. Joo, a PGA apprentice at DPGolf Academy in Bristow, won the professional event the last two years.

“I hit the ball pretty well,” Joo said. “I only had one chance of making a bogey – and I did. I could have made a couple more putts.”

Joo said that it was his first time playing the red course during the Pro-Am, but he has been to the club and played that course before.

Yong Joo putts during the Apple Blossom Pro Am golf tournament on April 27 at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal. Professionals will not be allowed to play in the golf tournament this year. Rich Cooley/Daily file

“It’s tighter, it’s not as long,” Joo said of the red course. “It kind of depends on how you want to play it, more aggressive or less aggressive. I played it more aggressive probably than I did the last two years. I definitely didn’t make as many putts.”

The other flight played the blue and red course, and there was a tie for first in the professional category. Steve Delmar and Joe Lussier tied with a 68 each.

Delmar, an assistant golf coach at the University of Maryland, said it was his second straight year playing in the tournament. He said he had one eagle and two birdies with no bogeys.

“There was nothing special about it at all – pretty easy,” Delmar said. “… I love (the course). I like coming up here. We’ll see, hopefully I’ll come up again next year.”

Sherando junior Brett Loy also played in the tournament and shot a 69, playing on the blue and red course. He shot a 37 on the blue course and a 32 on the red.

Loy said it was his first time playing in the event, and he decided to do it because a family friend asked him to.

“I got off to a really hot start. I had an eagle and a birdie to start,” Loy said. “Then I had a rough stretch in the middle, and I had four straight bogeys. Then I finished strong in the red and I had an eagle on the last one.”

The winning professionals won $700. Last year the top overall prize for the top professional was $1,000. The winning teams each won $125 per person. There were 40 teams in the tournament.

Loy’s group of himself, Matthew Karen, Jeremy Wright and Bert Martin won the blue/red division with a 124. The group of Greg Scott, Shelley Sanders, Emily McGee and Beth Foster won the white/blue division with a 120. The group of Kelly King, John Seymour, Herb Strum and Pete Buchbauer won the red/white division with a 120.

PGA head golf professional Jeff Forman, who runs the tournament, said that they switched the format this year to save time. In previous years the tournament hasn’t finished until 7 p.m., This year’s tournament was over by 3:50 p.m.

“It also helps with the field. You’re only playing against 13 other pros instead of playing against 50 other pros,” Forman said. “It gives everybody a little bit of an extra chance. It just kind of breaks it up a little bit. Just trying to make it fun. … I think it went really smooth. I feel very good about the format and the way we did it.”

The golfers seemed to be happy with the tournament and the whole day of golf.

“We had a lot of fun – just very happy all day,” Loy said. “It’s Apple Blossom so you can’t be too mad about anything.”

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