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Nottingham captures back-to-back Ridgefields titles

STEVE WILMOTH, TriCitiesSports.com • Jul 9, 2017 at 8:04 PM

KINGSPORT — William Nottingham has made a habit of final-day rallies to win tournaments. The rising sophomore golfer at Clemson sported the rally hat again Sunday afternoon at the 68th Ridgefields Invitational.

Trailing by four shots entering the final round at the Club at Ridgefields, Nottingham shot a 3-under-par 69 to edge second-round leader Eddie Karst by one shot and become the first back-to-back Ridgefields champion since Buck Brittain won consecutive titles in 2009-10.

Nottingham, who finished at 6-under 210 after rounds of 72-69-69, was in control throughout in last year's victory but didn’t take the lead this year until after his three rounds were complete.

“It was a little different,” he said. “It feels good to come back and win it again. It’s always nice to play well on your home course.”

The recent winner of the prestigious North & South Amateur at the famed Pinehurst No. 2 made his charge after a slight alteration to his swing at the turn.

“I wasn’t hitting it well at all on the front nine,” Nottingham said. “I shot 1 over on the front, so I shortened my swing a little bit and started hitting it better.”

Birdies came on Nos. 10, 11 and the critical 14th.

“The green isn’t that big and if your second shot is short of the pin on the slope, it would come back to the front of the green,” Nottingham noted. “You had to hit it on the back tier and I did and I didn’t have that difficult of a putt.”

He reached 3 under for the day with another birdie on No. 17 but didn’t know if that would be enough for the win.

“I really didn’t think I had a chance at 3 under with the way Eddie had been playing,” Nottingham said.

Karst, playing two groups behind Nottingham, found trouble on Nos. 14 and 16 and closed with a 2-over 74 for a 5-under 210.

Lucas Armstrong had a final-round 74 and was third at 214, two shots ahead of Blake Howard (76), John Tyminski (74) and Lawrence Largent (72).

Nottingham, whose 69 was the lowest round of the day and the only round under par in the championship flight, heads to Knoxville on Monday to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifier at Willow Creek Golf Club.

After beginning the day with a four-shot lead in the seniors flight, Mark Halvorsen completed his wire-to-wire run to the championship with a final-round 77 and a three-day 212 total. Halvorsen won by two over Cary Daniels (75) and Rick Sinard (74).

“The pins were tricky today,” Halvorsen noted. “They were not in really accessible places to really attack. So I knew par was going to be a good score and figured there probably wouldn’t be a lot of birdies.”

At the turn, Halvorsen led Tim Dinwiddie by four shots and Daniels by five, and he altered his tactics for the back nine.

“I looked at it as match play against Tim and Cary on the back nine and I got really defensive,” Halvorsen said. “I wasn’t being as aggressive or shooting at the flags like I did the first two days. I tried to guide some things and protect the ball from going in bad places.”

The change left the door ever so slightly ajar for Daniels, Sinard and Dinwiddie.

“All of a sudden, I got a little squirrelly, but they made some mistakes and I was able to hold on,” noted Halvorsen, the Ridgefields runner-up a year ago.

“I’m thrilled. I couldn’t be more excited or pleased with the way I played over the three days.”

After falling behind by five after the second round in super seniors, first-round leader Bob Ross fired a 76 on Sunday to finish at 222 for a two-shot victory over Randy Longcrier, who closed with an 83.

Pat Kenney was third at 230 after posting the low flight round of the day, a 75.