MOSELEY, Va. — Kelly Chinn knew it would be a good day from the first tee shot he hit. And it was — both for him and the Langley High golf team.
The Saxons completed a three-peat for the Virginia Class 6A title Tuesday at the Magnolia Green Golf Club, and they were paced by Chinn, a sophomore All-Met and Duke commit who shot a 2-under-par 70.
Chinn finished second in scoring behind Battlefield’s Bryce Corbett, who shot a 69, but there was no catching Langley’s team total of 296. That was 11 strokes better than runner-up Lake Braddock.
Lake Braddock sisters Katie and Jinny Park kept things close by shooting a 72 and 73 and placing fifth and sixth, respectively.
Most players took their time on a muggy, sunny day, but the physical toll wasn’t a problem for Chinn, a member of the Army Navy Country Club and two-time defending men’s club champion. “He’s used to the hills,” his father, Colin, said.
This was the third consecutive year the 6A championship was played at Magnolia, and with grass freshly cut on the morning of the competition, those undulating fairways made for a faster course, despite moisture early in the morning.
In addition to the challenging course and hot weather, a new one-day format — compared to the typical 36-hole, two-day championship — added pressure to make every hole count.
“Eighteen holes, it’s like you hit a couple bad holes and think, ‘God I’m not going to help the team today,’ ” Langley Coach Al Berg said. “Different mind-set for sure.”
Combined with losing three seniors, that put more pressure on Berg’s top four players.
Berg talked with his players about club selection off the tee because the pin locations were more difficult this year, particularly on a few par-4s where one bad shot could doom the entire hole. Chinn knew this, and his game plan was to get the yardage he needed to attack the new pin locations.
Before the match, Berg said Chinn’s course management and composure under pressure reminded him of a maxim from golf great Ben Hogan.
“Ben famously said that it isn’t so much the quality of your great shots that determine your round, but the quality of your worst shots — meaning that avoiding double and triple bogeys is the key to low scoring,” Berg said. “This fits Kelly to a tee. The great majority of his shots are right in target, but his misses still leave him a chance to recover.”
That comment about shot quality proved true on Chinn’s final hole. He hit a sloping fairway, made a difficult approach shot that crossed the ravine, and then drained a putt and gave a fist pump in excitement.
The typically reserved Chinn noted that reaction was because he was “battling with my putting,” throughout the day. “I just felt that was going to mean something.”