Lauler shoots a 70 in tournament

Monty Harris watches his tee shot Wednesday on White 1 in the Virginia National Bank Classic Golf Tournament held at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal. Harris shot an 83. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Changes at the Apple Blossom Festival Golf Tournament this year were a big success on Wednesday at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club.

The tournament, now called the Virginia National Bank Golf Classic Tournament, went from a Pro-Am to just an amateur event, and it was well received by everyone.

“Everybody’s talking about coming back for next year’s tournament,” Shenandoah Valley Golf Club head pro Jeff Foreman said. “I think it was a good move for us and for everybody really to make the change. Last year the amateur’s received, we gave out maybe $5,000 in gift certificates last year. This year we’re giving out close to $10,000 worth of gift certificates to the amateurs and we have their support. Without them this wouldn’t happen anyways.”

Mike Lauler, of Springfield, had the top score of the day. He shot a 70 (one-under par), playing on the White 9 and Blue 9 courses.

“I didn’t do anything stupid,” Lauler said with a laugh of his round. “I just kept the ball in play and made some putts — that was it.”

Tommy Cattlett watches his tee shot Wednesday on White 1 in the Virginia National Bank Classic Golf Tournament. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

Lauler said he and his friends have been coming to the event for over 20 years, and this was his best score.

He said he loves playing on the course.

“We do love this tournament,” Lauler said. “We’re going to come back and play this course just for fun, because we just really love the place. It’s just a nice golf course.”

Lauler and his teammates (Bob Laver, Robin Huerson and Mike Williams) also had the lowest team score — a total of 126.

“The team played very well as a team,” Lauler said. “We’ve been playing together a long time, played a lot of golf.”

Arthur Bryant watches his putt Wednesday on White 9. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

Lauler, who had three birdies and two bogeys in his round, said that he had his teammates all play at Fort Belvoir Golf Club in Fairfax County.

Once again this year there were three different flights. One played on white and then blue, another played blue and then red and the third played red and then white. The top five individuals from each flight in both the gross and net categories won gift certificates. The top five teams in each flight also won gift certificates.

Foreman said they had close to what they were hoping for as far as the turnout. There were 156 players and 39 teams in the event.

Sherando graduate Josh Riggleman, who shot a 75 (four-over par) and finished fifth in his flight, said that he was very happy with the changes and the tournament.

“We love this tournament,” Riggleman said. “The tournament’s always been great. The way they did it — they took away the pro division — but we had a blast.”

Joe Kruper watches his putt Wednesday on White 9. Kruper shot a 76. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

Riggleman said the wind affected his play a little bit, but he only had two bad holes.

He said the tournament is a great way to start off the Apple Blossom Festival festivities.

“I love the event,” Riggleman said. “Apple Blossom is a great time of the year for the Valley and we enjoy it. The food’s good. The course is always in good shape. We had a good time.”

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

Bo Bolton watches his tee shot Wednesday on Blue 1. Bolton shot a 74. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

J.P. Carr watches his putt Wednesday on White 9. Carr shot an 81. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

Max Anderson watches his tee shot Wednesday on Blue 1. Anderson shot a 79. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

Joe Hickey watches his tee shot Wednesday on Blue 1. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily