MOUNT PLEASANT -- Still riding the high of Augusta State's NCAA golf championship a couple of weeks ago, Carter Newman survived a five-hole playoff with 17-year-old Jorge Fernandez Valdes of Argentina to win the 38th Rice Planters Amateur golf tournament Saturday at Snee Farm Country Club.
With most of the attention focused on the final threesome of Pete Kellermann, Brandon Hagy and Logan Blondell, Fernandez Valdes and Newman quietly set themselves up for a playoff, shooting rounds of 66 and 68, respectively, to tie at 12-under-par 276 after 72 holes.
Blondell had a good chance to win outright or join the playoff. At 11 under going into the par-5 16th, he reached the back of the par-5 green in two and had a 10-foot eagle try that just missed.
He tapped in for birdie to get to 12 under, but three-putted the par-3 17th for bogey and missed a birdie chip on the final hole. Kellermann also missed a birdie try that would have earned him a playoff spot on the final hole.
Fernandez Valdes had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys in regulation, while Newman made five birdies and one bogey.
Newman looked to be in the driver's seat on the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, when Fernandez Valdes hit his tee shot into the left rough and could not reach the green in regulation. The young Argentine's approach from just over 100 yards was average, but after watching his opponent miss a birdie opportunity for the win, he quickly rolled in a 20-footer to extend the playoff.
They went to the par-3 17th this time, and it was Newman who had to make a 6-foot par putt to extend the playoff.
Fernandez Valdes missed a couple of opportunities to win on their next two visits to No. 18, setting up a fifth extra hole. Both players hit good shots into the green, with Fernandez Valdes sticking it to 6 feet and Newman landing his in the first cut just behind the hole. Newman used a lofted club and the ball just trickled in. Fernandez Valdes then missed his opportunity to extend the playoff.
"This was a pretty sweet win," said Newman, adding that he had not enjoyed an individual victory since a junior tournament when he was 15 years old. "I just wanted it to end. I was lucky to come out on top."
Newman said he expected his opponent to make the putt on the first playoff hole.
"You have to expect the unexpected," he said. "I ended up doing the same thing on (the second playoff hole). I played solid the whole week.
"We won the national championship two weeks ago, so I'm still riding the high of that. That was huge for my confidence."