Virginia Golfer May / June 2015 - Page 24

Blacksburg native Jake Mondy seeks repeat and rare third title by RANDY KING I f all goes according to Jake Mondy’s grand plan, the 102nd Virginia State Golf Association Amateur Championship will mark his final run at a VSGA title. What a ride it’s been. After collecting consecutive VSGA Junior Stroke Play titles in 2010-11, the 22-year-old Blacksburg native will shoot for his third VSGA Amateur crown in four years in the commonwealth’s oldest championship at Charlottesville’s Farmington Country Club from June 29-July 3. “I’ve had some success at it so it’s always the one event I look forward to the most during the summer,” says Mondy, a fifth-year rising senior on Auburn’s golf team that was No. 7 in Golfweek’s national college rankings as of May 3. “I love match play. I think it’s a great test of golf. It’s just you and one other person out there and you have to beat that person. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed throughout the years.” That’s for sure. More paramount, his pair of triumphs—in 2012 at Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach 22 V I R G I N I A G O L F E R | M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 5 22_VSGA_050615.indd 22 and last year at Spring Creek Golf Club in Gordonsville—will forever be etched as redletter chapters of his life story. DEFINING MOMENTS In 2012, Mondy capped a storybook-like week by besting cagey mid-amateur Buck Brittain of Tazewell, 4 and 2, in the final at Bayville. In a strong twist of fate, Bayville was the last place his father, Dave, ever saw him swing a golf club 20 months earlier. Dave Mondy Jr., a Virginia Beach native, died of a heart attack at age 56 on Oct. 26, 2010, about two weeks after Jake represented the Virginias team against its Carolinas counterparts at the Captain’s Putter Matches. “Not only was it the last time he saw me play golf, but it was also the last time I ever saw him,” Jake says. “So I guess it was a little bit of a life lesson there. Take your opportunities when you can get them. “When I sent in my Amateur entry (in 2012), I started to think, ‘Wow, that would be pretty cool if somehow this could be pulled off.’ If I had a big putt or something, I would think about him for a second or look up to w w w. v s g a . o r g 5/8/15 11:34 AM TOP RIGHT: SEAN PROCTOR/THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT; FILE PHOTOS (2) Mondy Ready to Finish Memorable Journey With a Victory at VSGA Amateur SCOTT K. BROWN As his days as an amateur golfer begin to wane, Mondy is eyeing a victory in an event that he admits holds special significance. the sky for something just to try and clear my mind. It was working for me all week. I know he was watching and helping me every step of the way. I was very calm and that’s unusual for me. I was like, ‘I’m going to do this and nothing is going to stop me.’ ” Talk about calling his shot: Mondy never trailed in the scheduled 36-hole final. In another odd twist of fate in the Hollywood-like script, Mondy’s mother, Bernadette, began the long ride from Blacksburg to Virginia Beach on late Friday afternoon once hearing her oldest son had won his semifinal match to advance to Saturday’s final. However, she was forced to return home only hours after arrival because of heavy tree damage as a result of a violent lightningcharged thunderstorm back at the familyowned campground business on the New River. “I was able to follow the championship match on my iPhone, but it was killing me not being there. When I saw that Jake had won, I let out a big ‘woohoo!’ ” Bernadette remembers. “Anybody that heard me at the campground must have wondered what was going on. It was an incredible weekend that I’ll never forget.” No doubt. Then came heartbreak in 2013 at The Homestead, where Mondy saw his bid of becoming only the ninth player in 100 years to produce back-to-back titles fall short. It was a painful exit as he squandered a dormie-2 lead and then lost to Ji Soo Park on the first extra hole in the semifinals at the resort’s Cascades Course. “It’s a match I shouldn’t have lost,” a hurting Mondy said afterward. A day later, Park ran into Brinson Paolini, who emerged victorious in the final for his fourth VSGA Amateur crown before turning professional. At last year’s VSGA Amateur at Spring Creek Golf Club in the Charlottesville area, Mondy made amends for the disappointment by getting up and down from a bunker for a birdie on the 36th hole to outlast Richmond’s Jordan Utley 1 up in the deciding encounter. Mondy had yielded a seemingly commanding four holes up cushion following the morning 18 before making the save of his life, getting up and down from a difficult bunker position and holing a match-clinching 6-foot birdie putt. He then dropped his putter and raised both arms before finding his mother and embracing her following the triumph. “That was awesome,” Mondy says. “I know how much she wanted to be there for the first one. “My dad gets a lot of credit for my golf growing up and getting me to love the game of golf the way that I do, but my mom has