Buck Brittain goes back-to-back at Virginia Senior Amateur
Courtesy of Virginia State Golf Association
Courtesy of Virginia State Golf Association

Buck Brittain became just the fourth player in Virginia State Golf Association history to win back-to-back Senior Amateur championships, grinding out a 1-up victory over Steve Serrao Friday morning at Birdwood Golf at Boar’s Head Resort to defend his title in the 74th playing of the event.

Brittain joins Keith Decker, Jamie Gough and Richard B. Payne as back-to-back winners in the event. (Payne won three straight). The result should have come as a surprise to no one. Since turning 50, Brittain has won six VSGA titles—two Amateurs, two Senior Opens, a Senior Four-Ball and a Mid-Amateur.

“I tried not to think about it all week, about how I was defending,” Brittain said. “I didn’t feel like I could go in with the mindset of, ‘I’ve got to repeat.’ I just tried to play. And now I’ve got it done, and I can enjoy it.”

The win over Serrao, the 2019 Senior Amateur champion, was not easy. There was very little between the two competitors on a muggy but surprisingly sunny Friday at the University of Virginia’s home course. Serrao (Willow Oaks CC) won the second hole with a birdie. Brittain (The Virginian GC) tied the match on No. 3 then took the lead on No. 7, hitting his tee shot on the par-3 hole to within three feet for a simple birdie.

On 13, Brittain made a rare mistake, hitting his tee shot on the par 3 into the left bunker. He failed to get up and down for par, and Serrao made his par to tie the match.

Aside from that, the first 15 holes were almost a wash between the two steady competitors. The match swung on No. 16, a drivable par 4. Both players attempted to go for the green, Serrao’s shot settling about 20 yards from the flagstick in the rough right of the green, Brittain’s landing short of the green.

Brittain was first to hit, and he left his shot about 25 feet short of the hole. Serrao sensed an opportunity, but he mishit his chip, sending it far past the hole.

“I had way too much adrenaline going to try the shot I tried,” Serrao said. “I should not have tried to hit a spinner. It was too wet. I had too much adrenaline. And I flinched. I should have just played it low and played it safe. … That’s the one place where a bad shot cost me a hole.”

Serrao was still out after his chip and hit his putt to within five feet for a reasonable par look. He never got the opportunity. Brittain rolled home his birdie putt to take a 1-up lead he wouldn’t relinquish.

“I putted well, and I didn’t really miss anything that I should have made,” Brittain said. “And I didn’t give Steve many opportunities. He didn’t give me many either. He didn’t mess anything up. He hit a couple of bad shots, but everything ended up being OK.”

The match went about how Serrao expected, with Brittain giving hardly an inch throughout the morning. Serrao had some opportunities, but several putts came up a roll or two short, a frustrating pattern considering he knew he needed birdies if he wanted a chance to win.

“I played as well as I hoped I’d play,” Serrao said. “The problem was that I think I only birdied the par 5s. I don’t think I made a birdie anywhere else. I was hoping today would be the day the putts would go in. I came close. I birdied the holes I needed to where I had the length advantage, but I didn’t birdie anything else, and that’s just not enough.”

Soon after the match, Brittain hustled east down Interstate 64, his GPS set for Hermitage Country Club, where he had a late starting time on Friday in senior division at the Valentine Invitational.

Serrao, who played his college golf at UVA, had no regrets with how the week unfolded. He’ll now set his eyes toward qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur on Monday at nearby Keswick Golf Club.

“I love being here,” Serrao said. “It’s a whole new course for me, but I love it. Lots of good memories. I got to see some friends. Even ate some Bellair Market sandwiches. I was really looking forward to this. … I’m happy to get to the finals. The problem with a golf tournament is only one guy leaves happy.”

View results for VSGA Senior Amateur
ABOUT THE VSGA Senior Amateur

36 holes of stroke play qualifying (18 holes per day); the low 32 players advance to match play. Open to VSGA members who are at least 50 years of age holding an active GHIN number issued by a licensed VSGA Member Club in good standing.

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