Whittington wins second county title

Published 10:33 am Monday, July 30, 2012

With 22 feet to go, Chris Whittington just needed to two-putt to claim his second straight Warren County golf chammpionship.

He didn’t need the cushion.

Whittington drained the 22-foot putt for a birdie on the final hole Sunday, giving him a 70 for the day and a two-shot victory over Parker Rutherford at the Warren County Championship at Clear Creek Golf Course.

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Whittington finished at 3-under par 141 for the tournament. Rutherford, who shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday, was two strokes back at 143. The next best finisher in the championship flight was Steven Riddick at 155, 14 strokes behind Whittington.

Whittington felt great relief in holding off the hard-charging Rutherford, who cut a five-stroke deficit down to one after he parred No. 17 and Whittington could not get up and down.

“That was the biggest fight I’ve had in golf,” Whittington said of his back-nine duel with Rutherford. “I kind of felt like it was slipping away from me. I tugged a wedge at 17 and couldn’t get up and down. At 18, I was in the grain of the green so I just wanted to get within a foot for a tap in. The putt had good pace and it just fell in the back of the cup.”

Wanda Caruthers won the women’s championship with a two-day score of 183. Suzanne Hurley was second at 191.

Whittington, 22, knows Rutherford will be hard to beat in the future.

“I have so much respect for Parker,” Whittington said. “That’s why this one means more to me than the first one. I really wanted to win this one.”

Rutherford, who had five birdies in his second round, said he got hot on the back nine.

“I played good,” Rutherford said. “I tried to put as much pressure on him as I could. I had four birdies on the back nine and one of those was a 30-footer on 14. That was a long putt.”

Whittington was two-under through the front nine while Rutherford was even to create a five-shot cushion. Mike Hurley, who entered Sunday a shot back, fell off after a tough opening hole.

Hurley finished in a three-way tie for sixth at 156 with Bryce Perkins and Rocky Shiers. Last year’s runner-up, Chris Ingram, won the first flight at 154 and was third overall after rebounding from Saturday’s opening-round 79.

“I struggled from the start and hit one out of bounds on one,” Hurley said. “Parker and Chris (Whittington) just played phenomenal all day.”

Rutherford began picking up strokes after making a 10-foot putt at No. 11, then rolled in his 30-foot bomb on 14 to draw within three shots. Both players parred the 15th hole.

On the par-5 16th, Rutherford birdied again while Whittington settled for par to make it a two-stroke gap.

At 17, Rutherford had another chance at birdie but missed by a foot. Whittington two-putted from 7 feet for a bogey and the lead was down to one.

On the 18th tee, Rutherford went right into the 10th fairway while Whittington powered a 320-yard drive just in the right fringe of the 18th fairway. He hit his second shot onto the green while Rutherford left his just short of the green’s front.