KINGSPORT — Like any good golfer, Buck Brittain likes to win.
Brittain also likes to battle.
After trailing two-day leader Chris Wynne by four strokes in the Ridgefields Men’s Invitational, Brittain made up the lost ground and sealed his second straight championship in a one-hole playoff at Ridgefields Country Club on Sunday.
Last year Brittain led all the way; his 9-under-par 207 for the title was one stroke shy of the course competitive record. On Sunday, the Tazewell, Va., golfer shot a 68 for a 54-hole total of 208.
He seemed a lot happier.
“Last year, I felt like I let myself down, although I still won,” Brittain said. “Today it feels pretty satisfying to come from behind and catch (Wynne). So I’m pretty pleased.”
Wynne, who roared out front with Friday’s 66 and turned in a 70 on Saturday, was overtaken by Brittain after three-putting on No. 15.
“I hit a good 2½-foot putt and it lipped all the way out. I tapped it in and went to the next. I knew I was going to have to birdie the last three to have a chance,” said Wynne, of Fall Branch.
Brittain birdied two of the next three holes. Wynne birdied all three for a 72 and the tie in regulation.
Wynne’s exultation turned to consternation shortly after returning to the 18th tee for the playoff.
Brittain’s drive landed in the fairway 50 yards from the green, just a 60-degree wedge shot away from a decisive 3-foot birdie putt. Wynne’s tee shot took a hard bounce to the right and into the rough, placing him 10 yards closer than Brittain’s shot but with a pine tree and bunker complicating matters.
“I hit a good drive. I was very surprised to get up there and see it behind that tree,” said Wynne, who thought it would take a “miracle shot” to buy a birdie putt.
“I was trying to land it right on top of the hill in front of the bunker and let it roll down. It had to be perfect.”
The difference between perfection and imperfection proved to be about a yard and a half. Brittain watched Wynne make a heroic sand shot to inside 2 feet of the pin, then the defending champ drained his birdie putt.
Lucas Armstrong, a freshman golfer at Walters State, shot a 71 to finish third in the championship flight at 214. He’ll soon wrap up his juniors career with the Tri-Cities Junior Amateur at The Virginian and the U.S. Teens Tournament at Pinehurst, N.C.
Joe Meade shot 71 to finish fourth at 215, and Dane Fairfield had a 70, his best round of the tournament, to place fifth at 216. Alex Ratliff carded a 74 to finish sixth at 217 and Carlson Cox shot a 71 to take seventh at 218.
Mike Freels of Chuckey overcame the three-stroke lead of Bill Argabrite en route to claiming his first Ridgefields Invitational seniors championship.
Freels shot a par round Sunday, giving him a 217 for 54 holes.
“(Argabrite) is a gentleman golfer, the original kind. All of these guys are wonderful to play with. Their etiquette and knowledge of what they’re doing is really evident,” said Freels, who added Ridgefields to the Tillinghast and Link Hills seniors titles he’s collected this summer. He’ll be gunning for the Graysburg Hills Seniors in August.
Argabrite shot a 78, finishing second with 220. Ron Waters stroked a 72 and Tony Green a 74 to tie for third at 221.
“I really did not hit the ball very well the first two rounds and made a lot of putts, probably turning a couple of 74s or 75s into 71s,” Argabrite said. “Today, more of the same — except I didn’t make the putts.”