POWHATAN - The best nine-hole round that junior Connor Voorhees had previously assembled this season was a 38.
For sophomore Brandon Washburn, it was a 40.
And then they went to Dogwood Trace.
They were taking on the Region 4B South sub-regionals. Voorhees, Washburn and their Powhatan Golf teammates went up against teams and golfers - including Hanover and Monacan - who have been among their best competitors throughout 2019. All golfers had to play 18 holes - 2 sets of nine’s - for a chance to advance to the main regional tournament.
Voorhees and Washburn not only advanced...
...they did so by delivering their best nine's of the year so far.
Voorhees made par (36) on the front-nine and shot a 37 on the back-nine for a total of 73. Washburn shot 38 and 40 for a 78.
“I think, both of us, we’ve been close to shooting those good rounds all year,” Washburn said, “and then we finally just put it together.”
Getting to advance to his first-ever regional tournament was something that Voorhees had been working towards for a couple of years. In the Oct. 1 sub-regionals, Voorhees was the third best golfer behind the medalist from Hanover (70) and the runner-up from Patrick Henry (72).
“It felt great just to finally get some birdies to drop on those first few holes to get my round started,” Voorhees said. “Started to fall apart a little toward the end of the front nine, but I kept it at even par.”
In the back nine, there was a tough stretch of par-four’s where Voorhees went over par, but he was able to come back on the last couple of holes on key birdies to almost catch up to even-par, which felt great to the junior.
Washburn made major gains from last year - when he was competing to get the no. 6 spot every match - to become one of Powhatan’s consistent leaders on the golf course and reach his first-ever regional tournament as well.
But it wasn’t easy. Washburn on Oct. 1 had a rough start - he hit two out-of-bounds on the second hole, ending up with a 9 on that hole and starting 4-over going into Hole 3 - but he more than rebounded, reeling off three birdies on the way to shooting his season-best of 38 on the front nine.
The two golfers have been practicing almost every day, including on the weekends and in the offseason. At least four days a week, they’ve been at their home course of Mill Quarter Plantation Golf Club, getting out on the range, getting reps on the course and practicing together with their teammates, who include senior Logan Wyatt, junior Parker Snellings and sophomores Adam Camp, Cade Van Buskirk and Jack Altieri. And Powhatan head coach Chris Leech, Voorhees said, has been very helpful.
Powhatan Golf showed major improvement in its team performance in the sub-regionals. The Indians placed fourth (329) behind first-place Monacan (307), runner-up Patrick Henry (314) and third-place Hanover (315), and ahead of fifth-place Lee-Davis (391) and tournament host Dinwiddie (438).
“Our team this year is definitely a lot better than we have been in the past; we’ve got a lot of great players, and next year I think we’ll be even stronger than now,” said Voorhees, who has one more year of high school golf after this while Washburn has two. “To have this performance at this stage in high school...it shows that we’re gonna be really good in the next coming years.”
“The team grew over time - we have more experience, we’re more focused,” Powhatan Golf head coach Chris Leech said. “I think guys have just found their swings compared to those earlier 18-hole tournaments which were still just very early in the season. And they played good golf - they minimized mistakes.”
Coach Leech was very happy with all the players this season and the good effort they put in.
“Everyone contributed at some point during the season, which is nice,” he added. “Everyone at one point took a score.”
As Voorhees and Washburn look to turn in a strong performance in this year’s regionals, being focused in - Voorhees said - is the most important part.
“When you’re under all this pressure, you’ve got to be able to block everything out and not overthink your shots,” Voorhees said. “You don’t want to second-guess your shots. You’ve got to be confident in what you’re going to do.”
For Washburn, it’s a matter of keeping away some of the bigger numbers.
“I had 6 birdies at Dogwood Trace,” Washburn said, “but I had some bigger numbers that hurt me, which could’ve made the round lower.”
Voorhees and Washburn play in the Region 4B tournament on Monday, Oct. 7 at Mattaponi Springs Golf Club in Caroline County. The top two teams and the top three individuals from the tournament will advance to the state tournament in Williamsburg.
Mattaponi is a very different course from Dogwood Trace. It will be a slightly longer course, and there will be some places where a bad shot will cost you, Coach Leech noted.
“But even with the difference in style, just having a great round on any course is going to be a huge confidence boost going forward,” Voorhees said.
“Obviously both of us shooting our lowest rounds of the year...we’re at maximum confidence going into Monday,” Washburn said. “Should be fun.”