By Jed Blackwell, Associate Editor-Publisher
Faced with the prospect of a chip-off to decide the Upstate Fall Two-Man Team Championship at Three Pines, Tyler Croxton and Matthew Wiggins elected not to watch their opponents.
They couldn’t have seen much anyway.
After a long back nine led to two playoff holes and a finish in the gloaming, Croxton and Wiggins won a coin toss and elected to chip second. Then, they went and stood behind a tree.
“We didn’t want to watch,” Croxton said. “We didn’t want to hear.”
So, ignorant of what they were up against, Wiggins finished by nestling his chip to about six feet.
It was good enough for a win, as they defeated Bradford Thorne and Hunter Parks in extra play.
Both teams finished regulation in the two-day tournament at 22-under.
That the event was decided by the short game was ironic, as the longest holes at Three Pines had a lot to do with the pair’s success on Sunday.
They played the course’s four Par-5 holes in six-under-par, scores that springboarded them into the lead.
“The Eagle at 13 was our first lead of the tournament,” Wiggins said. “We didn’t know exactly where we were, but we knew we were two up on those guys we were playing with. We had about 153 in, hit a 9-iron 20-feet right, and Tyler made a great birdie and freed me up to roll it in.”
They backed it up with a birdie at 14 before Thorne and Parks went on a roll.
“Those boys got hot,” Wiggins said. “We had a couple of good looks, but they birdied 15, made a bomb on 15, then birdied 17 and 18.”
It took some heroics at the Par-5 18th just to salvage the playoff. Wiggins found himself on a root, under a tree, with a rock behind his ball.
“It was a tough lie, red dirt,” he said. “It was just tough to make contact, honestly. I kind of just closed my eyes and hit it.”
It worked, as Wiggins converted the birdie. Croxton had a tricky look at a birdie of his own, which wasn’t needed.
“I joked that we didn’t get to count any of my birdies,” he laughed. “That one, I definitely didn’t want to have to hit.”
Part of that owed to the pair’s strategy. Croxton’s control and Wiggins’ length off the tee allowed the team wedges into a lot of greens.
“We made up our minds that I was going first on every hole, to get it in play and free him up to take a swing at it,” Croxton said. “It really worked out.”
“I hit it in a bunker on 7, and hit my shot first, and that’s the only time we switched,” Wiggins said. “He went first no matter what. We stuck to it.:
The teams traded birdies on the first playoff hole, as Parks hit his approach to three feet, but Croxton made a 10-footer. Wiggins’ 20-footer for the win on the second hole was just short, downhill.
“How it stayed out, I don’t know,” he laughed. “It was a quarter-inch short downhill.”
So, with the green lit by cell phone flashlights, the pair sequestered themselves away from the chip-off, then went out and hit it close.
Wiggins said the finish, and the win, was a rewarding one.
“It was a grind out there, and we’re excited,” he said. “We said this was probably our last tournament of the year. We wanted to go out with a bang.”
Scores from The Fall Upstate Two-man team tournament at Three Pines Country Club https://greenvillecga.bluegolf.com/bluegolfw/greenvillecga22/event/greenvillecga222/pairings.htm?r=5678c63f-9435-422d-9337-d704b7f8e32b
Categories: Upstate Amateur Golf
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