Sports

F.C. Golfer Takes First at Chantilly

Falls Church resident and collegiate golfer Ben Lasso completed his summer schedule of tournaments with an incredible come from behind victory at the Amateur Championship at International Country Club in Chantilly, Va. sports-2

Falls Church resident and collegiate golfer Ben Lasso completed his summer schedule of tournaments with an incredible come from behind victory at the Amateur Championship at International Country Club in Chantilly, Va.

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Ben Lasso (Photo: Courtesy Karen Henenberg)

After two rounds, Lasso was tied for ninth place having shot 71 and 76 for a 147 total. Past Virginia State Amateur Champion Pat Tallent was well ahead of the pack with a 71 and 68 for a 139 total.

Lasso knew he had to play well the third and final day to make a good showing at this event with top amateurs from the area, but he had only a faint hope of making up the 8 shot deficit.

But Lasso’s round on Sunday started with a bang: an eagle on the first hole. Later on the front nine, he followed with a birdie but then slipped back to even with bogey and a disappointing double bogey on the ninth hole, having hit his drive into a hazard.

“I was pressing so hard”, Lasso said, “that I got out of my rhythm and pulled the ball just when I needed a long drive on a very difficult hole.”

Not knowing where he stood in the hunt for the Championship since Tallent was two groups behind him, Lasso had to regroup and grind along.

Just when it looked like any hope he had was fading, Lasso ran off a strip of pars on holes 10 through 14, followed by consecutive birdies on 15 and 16 -both long par fives. With a par on the 17th hole, Lasso stood two under for the day.

Lasso finished his round with a birdie on 18 and then could only wait for Tallent and others ahead of him to finish their rounds. When the dust had settled, the crowd watching the scores shouted out “there’s a tie for first at 215, there’s going to be a playoff between Tallent and Lasso!”

Tallent and Lasso had flipped their scores from the day before, with Tallent shooting 76 and Lasso shooting 68. Now they were dueling it out on the first hole of “sudden death”, a par 5 that gave up only a few eagles in the three rounds but many birdies.

Lasso and Tallent were virtually in the same spot after their drives. Tallent hit his approach shot to the green first landing a bit short of the green, but in the fairway about 30 yards from the pin.

Lasso hit next and his shot was long enough to land on the green, but instead trickled into the right sand trap. Tallent then chipped to about 20 feet from the pin and readied his birdie put. Lasso strode into the sand with confidence though, as he had two sand saves earlier in his round.

Before Lasso struck the shot, a large crowd surrounded the green anxious to catch the action. The shot was struck and Lasso’s ball landed softly on the green rolling to within 4 feet of the pin. Now it was a matter of who would sink the putt.

Tallent lined up his belly putter and took a controlled putt, but the ball rolled a several feet past the pin.

Lasso had his chance, and he hit home with a solid putt in the heart of the hole for a birdie, amid cheers from the crowd for the playoff win.

Earlier in the summer, Ben was the Medalist from this region, with a two round score of two under par, and qualified to play in the Sun Trust Open in Richmond. He had a disappointing outing when he failed to make the cut to advance.

However, three weeks later over August 1 and 2, Lasso finished third in the Carolina Am held at NorthStone County Club with a two hole total of 144-even par. That good finish prepared him for the Amateur at International.

Ben Lasso is a junior at Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., and plays on the golf team, coached by John Handrigan.

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