Brice Howard wins three-way playoff at Spirit of America
William T. Martin/courtesy of The Decatur Daily
William T. Martin/courtesy of The Decatur Daily

DECATUR, Ala. — Two weeks ago at the Arkansas State Amateur, Henderson State senior Brice Howard was disappointed to post a final-round 78. In hindsight, despite trailing by four entering the the last day, Howard could have shot just 72 at the Country Club of Little Rock and captured his home state's amateur championship by a stroke.

So when Howard, a native of Hot Springs, won a two-hole, three-way playoff at the Spirit of America Championship on Sunday afternoon at Burningtree Country Club, a bit of redemption was had.

"That was kind of going through my head a little bit coming into the tournament," Howard said of the missed opportunity at the Arkansas State Amateur two weeks earlier. "Going into the last round, knowing what happened last time, I just tried to put myself in a good spot. I tried to really just focus."

Howard posted rounds of 69 and 72 in the first two rounds to trail fellow playoff-mates Reed Lindsey and Jimmy Reist by two at the par-71 Burningtree Country Club.

On the back nine of the final round, Howard three-putted the par-5 16th hole and made a disappointing par. Trailing by two, Howard thought he may have lost his chance.

"On 16 I had an eagle putt and I three- putted for par and that's when I kind of thought I was out of it," Howard said. "I knew I needed to birdie the next two so I tried to play aggressive."

Brice Howard picked up his biggest win
William T. Martin/courtesy of The Decatur Daily

Reist made an unfortunate double bogey at the par-4 17th, while Lindsey made bogey. The trio headed to 18 deadlocked at the top of the leaderboard. Howard, who hadn't bogeyed since the eighth hole, made his fifth par in a row as the group headed back to 18 for a three-way playoff.

After all players parred the first hole, an up- and- down out of the bunker on the second playoff hole secured the win for Howard.

"It's probably the biggest win I've got," Howard said. "I feel good."

The rain-shortened event, which had Friday's second round cancelled due to heavy rains and lightning, was scheduled for 72 holes and was being defended by John-Michael O'Toole, a graduating senior from the University of Cincinnati.

O'Toole, a native of Pinson, Ala., tied for 10th place, shooting rounds of 69, 73, and 75 in his attempt to defend.

One of two runners-up, Reist of Decatur, Ala., is a member at the host club and at 52-years-old, would have been an impressive winner at the 48th running of the event.

Lindsey, a Delta State University senior from Ripley, Miss., got back into the tournament with a second-round 67 before posting 73 on the final day.

Results For Spirit of America Golf Classic
1ARBrice HowardHot Springs, AR30069-72-71=212
T2MSReed LindseyRipley, MS20072-67-73=212
T2ALJimmy ReistDecatur, AL20069-70-73=212
T4TNWes GosselinKnoxville, TN10073-70-71=214
T4FLClark BrownNavarre, FL10070-71-73=214

View full results for Spirit of America Golf Classic

ABOUT THE Spirit of America

The Spirit of America Golf Classic is Burningtree Country Club's long-running, fundraising tournament held annually in conjunction with Decatur’s Spirit of America Festival, which itself is one of the largest, free Fourth of July festivals in the south. Established in 1967, this unique "college team and individual" format event has been home to collegiate players and top amateur players from across the nation. The format is 72-holes of stroke play, with a 54-hole collegiate team division. The "Spirit" tournament boasts many top graduates, like 1995 Champion-turned-PGA tour player Heath Slocum, and 1989 Junior Champion-turned-PGA tour player Stewart Cink.

View Complete Tournament Information

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