Low scores high­light Fall Clas­sic

The Progress-Index - - SPORTS - Contributed Re­port

POWHATAN — For­mer PGA Tour player and pro­fes­sional Carl Paul­son teamed with am­a­teur and fel­low Vir­ginia Beach res­i­dent Jay Ser­rao to shoot 8-un­der-par 64 and cap­ture the pro­fes­sional-am­a­teur di­vi­sion of the Rich­mond Golf As­so­ci­a­tion Fall Clas­sic con­ducted to­day at The Foundry Golf Club. The event brings to­gether am­a­teurs and pro­fes­sion­als in a team-ori­ented, cap­tain’s choice event.

Rich­mond res­i­dents and am­a­teurs Larry Lov­ing Jr. part­nered with Matt Hed­ley to fire 10-un­der 62 and claim the am­a­teur-am­a­teur di­vi­sion on a match of score­cards with Brent Hol­sten (Hen­rico)-Todd Hoyle (Midlothian).

Paul­son-Ser­rao out­lasted the pro-am tandems of Daniel Soehren-Ryan Tay­lor, Tyler Vrolyk-Scott Creamer and Craig Cal­lens-Ben Beach who each re­turned scores of 7-un­der 65 (pros listed first).

Com­peti­tors dealt with low 40-de­gree weather most of the way.

Paul­son had nearly a 15-year pro­fes­sional golf ca­reer, spend­ing 10 years on the PGA Tour and five play­ing on what was then known as the Na­tion­wide Tour (now the Web.com Tour), the PGA Tour’s feeder cir­cuit, where he recorded two vic­to­ries. He stopped com­pet­ing in 2012 due to chronic back prob­lems and is now cur­rently the

co-host of “In­side the Ropes” on Sir­iusXM ra­dio with Den­nis Paul­son (no re­la­tion).

Paul­son re­turned to his na­tive Vir­ginia Beach in June. Paul­son and Ser­rao know one another from play­ing high school golf to­gether at First Colo­nial High School in Vir­ginia Beach. As for the here and now, they play reg­u­larly at Cava­lier Golf and Yacht Club in Vir­ginia Beach where both are mem­bers.

They com­ple­mented each other well through­out the Fall Clas­sic, com­bin­ing to make five birdies in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 5-10. They added late birdies at two of their fi­nal three holes, Nos. 16 and 17, on their way to se­cur­ing the ti­tle.

“We played a lot of golf to­gether this sum­mer,” said Paul­son, 46. He is ad­mit­tedly con­tem­plat­ing try­ing to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons Tour when he reaches the min­i­mum age re­quire­ment of 50. “We were play­ing one day and Jay’s brother, Steve (Ser­rao), said, ‘Hey, y’all ought to come up and play the (Fall Clas­sic).’ It was pretty cool to play in a team event.”

Jay Ser­rao noted that get­ting rounds in with Paul­son has el­e­vated his own play this year.

“I tell you what: In play­ing with Carl this sum­mer, he’s stepped up my game,” Ser­rao said. “We’ve both been feed­ing off each other. Carl hit it down the mid­dle all day long and we made a lot of putts.”

Will their win get some air time on Paul­son’s broad­cast?

“Yeah, for sure,” he said with a laugh.

Lov­ing-Hed­ley be­gan their round on No. 13 in the shot­gun start for­mat and got off to a scorch­ing start, string­ing to­gether five straight birdies from Nos. 14-18. And in the late stages, Lov­ing drilled his driver sec­ond shot off the deck from 242 yards at the par-5 eighth hole to 30 feet be­fore drain­ing the sidewind­ing ea­gle putt. Then, on their last hole of the day, par-4 12th, Lov­ing stuck his ap­proach shot to 12 feet be­fore Hed­ley con­verted the en­su­ing birdie chance that would ul­ti­mately help de­cide the out­come.

“We teamed up for birdies and had a good part­ner­ship,” Lov­ing said.

Both are mem­bers of Wil­low Oaks Coun­try Club in Rich­mond and Lov­ing-Hed­ley fin­ished 1-2 in this year’s club cham­pi­onship.

“That’s how we de­cided to play to­gether,” Lov­ing said of their part­ner­ship.

For their part, Hol­stenHoyle birdied their last three holes, Nos. 12-14, to equal the dou­ble fig­ures un­der-par ag­gre­gate.

“I had a good putting day, but (Hol­sten) was bet­ter off the tee and kept us in play,” Hoyle said.

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