Evan Beck took his time preparing his approach shot on the 54th and final hole of the State Open of Virginia at renovated Independence Golf Club.
The 2010 State Open winner, Beck, a reinstated amateur, was tied at 11 under par with defending champion Mark Lawrence, who was playing in his first tournament as a professional.
Lawrence’s second shot finished 14 feet from the cup. Beck had the yardage for a gap wedge, backed off because the wind was in his face and he didn’t want his shot spinning back off, then stepped in when the wind calmed and hit his wedge shot 4 feet under the hole.
After Lawrence’s birdie try slid by the hole, Beck, 30 and in the workforce now, buried his birdie putt for the one-stroke victory. Eleven years ago, Beck, then a sophomore at Wake Forest University, tied a 72-hole tournament scoring record at Independence (different course conditions) by sinking a 5-foot par putt to beat pro Cameron Yancey by a shot.
“Winning always feels good. I don’t care how old I am or whatever, it always feels nice to hold that trophy,” Beck said.
Beck, who began the final round at 9 under, one stroke clear of Lawrence, parred 12 holes in a row, birdied Nos. 13 and 14 (35-foot putt to gain the lead), bogeyed 15 and sank a 30-foot birdie putt at 17 to stay even with Lawrence.
“[The putt on 17] was huge. I knew Mark pretty much was in for birdie. I knew I had to make it to have a chance to win on 18,” Beck said.
Beck posted 3-under 68 on Sunday for a three-day total of 12-under 201. Lawrence (68)played bogey-free (15 pars, 3 birdies) and was the low professional at 202.
Third-place went to amateur Bryce Corbett, who strung together seven birdies and an eagle for a 62. He started his final round on the 10th hole at 2 over par and finished at 7-under 206.
Corbett, a member of the Radford University golf team, said he had done something similar, but not as low, all season.
“I’d have two bad rounds and then have a pretty good third round to get to even par or under par, and you know, the last day when you are over par, you have nothing to lose, you go out and fire at pins,” Corbett, a left-hander, said. “I made some feet of putts today. I made a couple of bombs out there. I made a 35-footer on 1. I made one over the ridge on 7 from like 50 feet. Made one on 10 to start the day. Made one on 15 from like 25 or 30 feet and I holed out a bunker shot for eagle on 17 so that helps.”
Beck and Lawrence had a number of opportunities to make birdies and neither was able to take advantage.
“We both made of ton pars to start, and I could sense that Mark was getting a little frustrated. I was as well but trying to stay patient. It’s very difficult to be in that situation and stay patient when you have so many chances, and I just wasn’t sniffing it on the front,” Beck said. “It’s like there was Saran wrap on the hole. I couldn’t get anything to go. And I was misreading a lot which I rarely do, but able to stay patient and got a couple to go in at the end.”
Fourth place at 6 under went to Nicholas Taliaferro. He shot 67 — 207. Alex Price (70), Sam Jung (70) and Connor Johnson (71) tied for fifth at 208.
Jack Montague started Sunday in third place at 7 under, but he returned a 75 to finish tied for 10th at 3 under.
Lawrence earned the low professional check, but he said, “That’s not why I’m playing. I’m playing because I want to win. It was a frustrating day over all.”