Radford’s Corbett survives 3-hole playoff to claim 84th Kenridge
Sunday, June 5, 2022
By Jerry Ratcliffe
After getting two previous looks at a similar birdie putt on Farmington’s tricky 18th green Sunday afternoon, Bryce Corbett knew exactly what to do on the pressure-packed third playoff hole of the Kenridge Invitational.
This time the pressure was off Corbett’s shoulders when he lined up his birdie attempt from eight paces. University of Richmond golfer Lou Baker, the other survivor of a four-man playoff, had bogeyed the hole after leaving his approach shot to the 18th short. His par attempt from nine paces grazed the right side of the cup, allowing Corbett to exhale.
Corbett, a rising junior golfer at Radford University, knew all he had to do was two-putt for par to win the playoff and the prestigious 84th Kenridge championship at Farmington Country Club.
A laid-back guy, sporting a colorful Hawaiian shirt for the final round, a $5 purchase from a thrift store back home in Radford, Corbett took his time before delivering the death blow.
He essentially had the same putt on both the first and second playoff holes when Trey Wren and Chad Fultz had been eliminated with bogeys.
“The second playoff hole I had the same putt, just a little shorter, so I knew the read and made it,” Corbett said. “Then I told myself on the third playoff hole, ‘Well, why not just hit it on that same line for birdie.’ Lou almost made a really great putt and I was definitely nervous as that thing was rolling, but I knew I left myself in a good spot, up the hill with two putts to win, so I got the job done.”
Indeed the Gainesville (Va.) golfer did, escaping a wild shootout that he didn’t realize he was in until glancing at the scoreboard while walking to the 17th hole. It was at that point Corbett learned he was in a four-way tie with the aforementioned Baker, Wren and Fultz, co-leaders scattered throughout the final three threesomes.
Fultz had finished before the others with a Kenridge-tying record, 6-under 64. He was actually 7-under standing on the 18th tee but wrecked his chance for the record with an errant tee shot into the trees on the left of the hole. The 18th would prove to be Fultz’s undoing as his approach shot on the first playoff hole drifted right of the green, struck a parked cart and caromed backward, hopping off the pavement down Farmington Drive.
Shultz, who grew up in the valley and took lessons at Farmington from former pro Rob McNamara, added to the drama with a near-perfect shot over a large tree and put his third shot 20 feet from the pin, but two-putted for bogey and was out. Wrenn was also eliminated with a bogey.
Baker’s tee shot on the third playoff hole betrayed him and put him in desperate shape.
“I got a little unlucky with the lie, kind of sat down and had to run something up the hill, but it came out really dead,” Baker said. “I gave that last putt a shot and unfortunately did not come out on top.”
Corbett entered the final round in a three-way tie for sixth, four shots back of Virginia Tech’s Charlie Hanson, who led the first two rounds, sparked by an opening-day 64. Hanson couldn’t keep pace on Sunday and slipped to a fifth-place finish with a 1-over 71 and a 54-hole total of 206, one stroke off making it a five-man playoff.
Philip Mahone, Farmington’s 58-year-old wonder, closed with a 1-under 69 and a 208, finishing in a sixth-place tie with Rui Chang, a first-year UVA student from China.
Corbett, Baker and Wren all finished at 205, all three with 2-under 68s in the final round (complete results appear at the end of the article).
Corbett, who said he hadn’t won a tournament since high school, was happy with his first two rounds, hoping his putter would heat up for Sunday.
“It didn’t get super hot, but I hit it good,” Corbett said. “I just started striping it and I shot 3-under for the front. From there I was definitely in it. I saw myself tied for the lead through seven and I kind of locked in.”
He wasn’t sure where he stood on the back until his walk between the par-5 16th and the par-3 17th, learning of the logjam at the top. He kept his poise and focus and finished the task in championship fashion.
Corbett’s coach at Radford, Mike Grant, had been working with his budding star (Corbett owned the third-best scoring average in the Big South Conference this season) on consistency and slowing things down.
“Coach told me I was in a good spot, but just kept telling me when I’m out here, just to slow myself down,” Corbett said. “I tend to get going real fast because I know I’m playing good. He’s like, just take it slow. Just act the same regardless how good or bad I’m playing. Walk slower, take time on the tempo of my swing, just slowing life down.”
What better way to do that than to survive a four-man shootout at one of the state’s oldest and most prestigious golf tournaments, take a giant trophy home with you along with a boost of confidence.
“It worked,” Corbett said. “I got the right shirt, the laid back style. I had to break out the shirt in the third round and that might become standard procedure for the rest of the year.”
Follow Jerry Ratcliffe on Twitter