After a week spent in cold, rain and wind, John-Tyler Griffin closed with a 4-under 68 in picturesque conditions Saturday afternoon at the eGolf Tour's inaugural Championship at Callawassie Island to grab his first win.
Griffin surged past five-time tour winner Ryan Nelson of Charleston, who held the lead at 6-under 138 to open the day, and eventually edged Matt Ryan by a stroke in the the final round of the rain-shortened event at Callawassie Island Club in Okatie.
On the back nine, the tournament had become a two-horse race.
Griffin, a two-time All America selection at Georgia Tech, took the lead at 7-under par with birdies on 10 and 13, only to be matched by Ryan, who birdied 14 and 15 to tie his playing partner before adding yet another red figure with a birdie at the par-4 16th to seize the lead outright at 8-under par.
"We kind of spurred each other along there on the back nine," said Griffin of his playing partner. "It was just hard today. I knew no one was going to run away with it, so I really just kept plugging along."
At the lengthy par-5 17th, Griffin drained a 35-foot birdie bomb to match the lefty at 8-under par, with the water-lined par-4 finishing hole remaining.
"I was putting well all day on those greens, which were some of the fastest I'd played in a long time," Griffin said. "That putt looked good the whole way and just fell over the front of the lip. I was trying to make it, but I was also trying to make sure I didn't run it four feet past."
At the 18th, with water and marsh along the right side of the hole, Ryan found a fairway bunker and then had an unusually bad break with his second, as his ball embedded in the sandy and grassy lip lining a left greenside bunker.
"After he hit his shot, I just wanted to play towards the middle of the green," said Griffin, who had a pitching wedge left for his second. "That right-hand hole location there is tough, though. There's no good place to hit it."
Griffin's second wound up 12 feet from the hole. Ryan, trying to make par for any shot at a playoff, dropped twice from his embedded lie, leaving himself an awkward pitch from a less-than-ideal stance, and in turn flubbed it into the bunker. He hit his next shot to 10 feet, eventually converting the bogey putt to post 7-under 209.
For Griffin, a birdie putt that he "barely even breathed on" gave way to a tap-in par that delivered career win No. 1, with a final-round 68 and an 8-under 208 total.
"It feels good to get the monkey off my back," said Griffin, who earned $13,000. "I always believed I was good enough, but for a while there, I wasn't sure if I really belonged out here."
eGolf Professional Tour
Championship at Callawassie Island
Sunday at Callawassie Island Club
Par 72, 7,065 yards
1. John-Tyler Griffin, $13,000.00 69-71-68--208
2. Matthew Ryan, $8,000.00 68-73-68--209
3. David Watkins, $4,614.80 72-70-68--210
3. Brendan Gielow, $4,614.80 74-68-68--210
3. Seamus Power, $4,614.80 71-69-70--210
3. Ryan Nelson, $4,614.80 73-65-72--210
3. Amory Davis, $4,614.80 69-70-71--210
8. Derek Rende, $2,900.00 68-71-74--213
8. Thomas Bass, $2,900.00 76-71-66--213
10. David Erdy, $2,500.00 73-72-69--214
10. Tadd Fujikawa, $2,500.00 74-73-67--214
12. Justin Peters, $2,300.00 73-70-72--215
13. Ryan Gildersleeve, $2,150.00 69-76-71--216
13. Brett Lange, $2,150.00 74-69-73---216
15. Frank Adams III, $2,000.00 71-75-71--217
Others of note
25. Tanner Ervin, $1,325.00 72-75-76--223
29. Luke Hopkins, $1,150.00 74-72-80--226