Despite late hiccup, Larue runs away with Jefferson Cup title at Boars Head

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Longwood’s Justin Larue wins the 2022 Jefferson Cup at Birdwood.

For the second year in a row, there was no drama in deciding the Jefferson Cup championship.

In 2021, former Wake Forest golfer Dustin Groves put together three consecutive sub-70 rounds en route to a 13-under 200 and blew away his closest competitor by 18 shots to win his second Jefferson Cup at Boars Head Resort’s Birdwood Golf Course. Sunday’s final wasn’t quite as much of a runaway, but Longwood’s Justin Larue had such a large lead that back-to-back bogeys on his final two holes didn’t even make him flinch.

Instead, Larue, a sophomore on Longwood’s golf team, posted his third consecutive round of 1-under par 70 to claim the Jefferson Cup with a three-day score of 210, beating out Birdwood’s Jack Bruns by 10 strokes (76-68-76–220).

Roger Newsome captured the Senior Division with a score of 210, defeating runner-up Scott Garrison, who finished at 218. Super Senior champion Jim Woodson posted a 229 to win over Jack Barber’s 236.

Larue, who plays out of Highlands in Chesterfield, was enjoying his best round of the tournament up until the par-3, 17th and the par-4, 18th. Up to that point, Larue had scored four birdies in the round, including No. 15 for the third day in a row.

His tee shot on 17 sailed into the right rough, with the pin tucked on the left side. It was a delicate chip shot. Too hard and the ball likely goes into the water. He played it smart, didn’t get close on his short chip and two-putted for bogey.

“On 18, I guess I wasn’t fully focused and concentrating and kind of just sliced it off the tee with a 3-iron,” Larue said.

He took a penalty drop out of the weeds and finished with another bogey, but it didn’t matter. Bruns was the only player heading into the day that had a chance to challenge Larue, and even he trailed by four shots.

“Justin played incredible golf today,” Bruns said. “I mean, he bogeyed 17 and 18, but he had a giant lead. He just wasn’t out of position at all. It’s hard to catch somebody when you’re not feeling it and they’re not making mistakes.”

After the birdie at 15, Larue was jacked up heading to the short, par-4, 16th, where he drove the green.

“I was just trying to go as low as I could because I wanted to beat my lowest round (of competitive golf) of 68,” Larue said.

He birdied and marched onward toward the title, his first in a while.

“It’s been a long time, like in junior golf,” Larue said. “I’ve come close, so this was my first tournament win in a long time. This should help my confidence. I feel like I can go out there tomorrow on my home course and shoot 63-to-66, or something like that. Just do what I did the past three days, and hopefully this season I can make my team and coach proud.”

Longwood’s season begins in mid-September, which will be Larue’s next official competition.

He graciously thanked the Birdwood staff for the tournament experience, thanked his college coach, his trainer, swing coach and others who have helped him along the way, with a special appreciation fist bump from his father, Chris.

“Since I was three, he’s always supported me in whatever I do,” Larue said.

While Bruns finished runner-up, he believed the experience will help him as he moves his game forward. After scoring the tournament’s lowest round on Saturday, a 3-under 68, it just wasn’t there on Sunday.

“I didn’t have the swing today, but I grinded hard, made some great up-and-downs early to keep myself in it,” Bruns said. “I was just trying to get it going at some point but never really did. I kept bleeding shots. It was encouraging to see myself shoot some decent scores and one really good score when I didn’t feel like I was playing my best golf. So it was encouraging.”