Buck Brittain (VSGA/Facebook photo)
By Chris Lang
WINCHESTER, Va. (Oct. 14, 2018) — Despite long being one of the most consistent amateurs in Virginia, Buck Brittain didn’t win a Virginia State Golf Association championship until after he turned 50. Now the wins are coming in bunches for the Tazewell judge.
Brittain, winner of the last two Virginia Senior Open championships, added a Mid-Amateur title to his mantle Sunday at Winchester Country Club. Brittain finished hot, making birdie on three of his final five holes to post a 2-under 69 and an even-par three-day aggregate 213, claiming the 42nd VSGA Mid-Amateur Championship.
Brittain finished four shots clear of runners-up Kyle Martin of Hampton and Harold Dill III of Ashburn. Brittain earned the M.W. “Dyke” Peebles trophy and added another line to his list of 2018 accomplishments.
In addition to his two individual championships this year, Brittain reached match play at the VSGA Amateur, finished in the top 10 at the Delta Dental State Open of Virginia, was part of a playoff at the VSGA Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship, qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur and reached the semifinals at the VSGA Senior Amateur after earning stroke-play qualifying medalist honors.
“No, not early on,” Brittain said, asked if he could have envisioned that sort of success when the year began. “Sometime in the middle of the year, I started really putting well. … I mean, this is as good as I can play. You don’t play good every day, but this summer, I’ve played about as good as I can play.”
Brittain was one of five players tied for the lead when Sunday’s round began. Jimmy Delp, Lee Fisher, Josh Riggleman and Dill were the others. By the turn, Brittain and Delp were still tied for the lead—along with Martin—as Riggleman and Fisher struggled on the front nine and slipped out of contention.
Brittain’s back nine included at birdie on 10 and a bogey on 13, but he started his end-round charge with a birdie on the par-3 14th. He added a birdie on 17 and rolled home a 15-footer for birdie on 18, punctuating his round with a huge fist pump, knowing the title was his.
“I’d been putting it good all week,” Brittain said. “On 10, I hit it close—to like a foot—and made it. I hit a good putt on 11 that didn’t go. I hit a good putt on 12 that didn’t go. I kept thinking, though, they’ll go. They’ll go. I just wanted to keep giving myself opportunities.”
Delp could never really get going, even though he was tied for the lead after nine holes. He made four bogeys on Sunday and didn’t record his lone birdie until 17. Martin, a 33 year old competing in his first VSGA Mid-Amateur, got to 3 under for the day after making a birdie on No. 10. But he made back to back bogeys on 12 and 13 to fall behind Brittain’s pace.
“That stretch in the middle—12, 13 and 14—that probably got me,” Martin said. “That’s where I gave up the most shots. So, yeah, that stretch got me.”
The top five finishers earned exemptions into the 2019 VSGA Amateur Championship, which will be held at Keswick Golf Club outside Charlottesville next June. Along with Brittain, Martin and Dill, Delp and Dustin Groves tied for fifth at 218 to nab those exemptions. Kyle Bailey and 2018 VSGA Mid-Amateur champion Justin Young tied for sixth at 219.
Bailey posted the best round of the tournament on Sunday, a 3-under 68, but a first-round 77 put him in too deep of a hole to challenge for the title. Groves shot 69 on Sunday, as did Glen Allen’s Ben Keefer.
Brittain has split his time this year between senior and regular championships, and he’ll play as a senior at next week’s Captain Putter Matches at Spring Creek Golf Club. This weekend, though, he showed he still had plenty of game to compete with players much younger than him.
“It’s just awesome,” Brittain said. “The guys who play in a lot of these, they’re all real good buddies, and it’s fun to compete against them. When you can beat them, it means you’ve played well.”
View results for VSGA Mid-Amateur
ABOUT THE VSGA Mid-Amateur
54-hole stroke play competition (18 holes per day),
with the field being cut to the low 45 and ties for the
final round. Open to VSGA members who will be at
least 25 years of age holding an active GHIN
issued by a licensed VSGA Member Club in good
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