Sam Jung was in complete control heading to the 18th tee box at Laurel Hill Golf Club Monday afternoon. Chantilly’s freshman sensation was riding high on 10 pars, five birdies and an eagle, his only blemish a bogie on the par-3 eighth hole.
Jung’s tee shot on 18 looked good, but it ended up costing him the Stallion Invitational’s individual trophy. His driver carried the bunker on the left just as he planned, but the ball nestled deep into the surrounding thicket, never to be found.
He re-teed a 3-wood that sailed into the same bunker, then pushed a 5-iron into the water hazard across the fairway. Jung managed to get up and down for a double-bogey 7 that salvaged a round of 4-under par 67, a number he thought might still be good enough to win.
But a trip to the scorer’s table revealed the worst: Riverbend High’s Jake Miles had fired a 66 to take medalist honors. Jung was steamed with himself, but he walked away with a valuable lesson in hand.
“What I learned today is that if I’m playing well to try not to get too greedy I guess,” he said, knowing he could have been more conservative on the par-5 finishing hole. “I should have just played it safe. Next time I’ll try not to go so hard at it.”
Still, Jung’s efforts weren’t for naught. His round led Chantilly to a winning total of 3-over par 287, edging runner-up South County by four shots and setting a team record in the Stallion Invitational, a one-day tournament now in its fifth year. Vishal Giri and Ryan Rizzo fired rounds of 1-over 72, while Joe Miller finished with a 76.
The defending regional and state champions got a bit of revenge on South County, which beat them by eight strokes to claim last year’s event at Laurel Hill. Yet the Stallions took solace in another spate of low rounds that continued a promising start to their 2014 season.
Ashley Dingman fired a 70 to claim female medalist honors and pace a South County side that got rounds of 71 from defending region champion David Ross and 73 from freshman TJ Repczynski. David Rabil, who shot 66 in last year’s event, carded a 77.
Dingman, a University of Delaware commit, set a school 18-hole scoring record with a 7-under 65 in the second round of last week’s Atomic Invitational at Twin Lakes. Combined with her 72 on day one, the 137 total also set a new 36-hole scoring record. Day two also saw South County get a 71 from Ross, a 73 from Rabil and a 74 from Repczynski to break the Stallions’ 18-hole team scoring record.
South County’s two-day total of 582 — yet another school record — would have been good enough to win five of the previous six state championships, but it wasn’t enough to beat Madison or Chantilly on Thursday. Madison came away from the Atomic Invitational with a 2-under 574 to win its second tournament in a one-week span. Senior standout Shannon Brooks, absent from Laurel Hill on Monday, posted a 10-under total at Twin Lakes, site of this year’s regional tournament in October.
Senior co-captain Sam Kase has also been reliable for the Warhawks so far this year, as he placed first at the season-opening Patriot Invitational and then posted a two-day total of even par to record another top-five finish at Twin Lakes last week. Amber Liu, Siena Ferrick and Sammy Hecht continue to post scores in the 70’s, while newcomer Brett Welde has provided a critical spark in the low to mid-70’s.
“On a given day from our top six, I have no idea whose scores we’re going to be using,” said Madison coach Derrick Rauenzahn, whose team graduated four seniors from last year’s squad. “It really is a team effort right now.”
Like Madison, Conference 6 juggernaut Langley was missing its No. 1 player, sophomore Brandon Berry, to another tournament on Monday. Both sides posted 301 totals at Laurel Hill, a sign of the parity marking one of the most talented player pools the region has seen in years.
“We’re not focusing on Chantilly or South County or Langley,” Rauenzahn said. “We can’t go out and stop them from doing what they’re capable of doing. We’re trying to stay humble, stay aggressive and continue to go out and try to improve every time we tee it up. Our goal is to play to the best of our ability, and hopefully that does put us around the top.”