Radford University rising junior Nick Brediger rose to the challenge Saturday during the 80th Roanoke Valley Match Play Championship.
Taking on the challenging Ballyhack golf course head on, and knocking off a pair of formidable challengers in Brandon LaCroix and Justin Young, Brediger took home the hardware in what he termed his best showing ever in tournament play.
“My biggest win ever, definitely,” Brediger said after dispatching LaCroix 1-up in the morning round before topping second seed Young 4 and 3 in the afternoon’s title match.
Brediger took control on the inward nine against Young, heading to the back nine one-up before making birdie at No. 11 and winning the par-3 13th with a short lag par after Young 3-putted on a roller coaster 20-footer on the never-ending undulations of the Ballyhack greens.
The 20-year-old former Cave Spring High School golfer finished things off after two-putting from nearly 100 feet on the par-5 15th.
“It’s the best I’ve played in a while,” Brediger noted. “I won the district and regional as a junior at Cave Spring in 2011, and finished second in the state.”
“My ball striking has gotten better and I hit a lot of greens this week, which is what you have to do, especially with all these undulating greens” Brediger said when asked what has sent his game to a higher level. “Justin was the favorite today, but it was easier for me to play (with him) in that position.”
Brediger has posted some impressive top-10 finishes at Radford, including a seventh place finish in the Big South Championship.
“I’ve been close, but this is the first one I’ve pulled off in a while,” he said. “It feels good.”
In the 50-64 Senior Division, upstart Kevin Dill, making a fashion statement in Loudmouth Maui shorts, pulled off the huge upset with a 2 and 1 win over long-time hard hitter John Newton.
“This is the biggest win I’ve ever had …..by far,” Dill admitted after holding off Newton. “My kids are in college, so I have more time for golf. It’s a great outlet and I play with a great group at Blue Hills. John (Newton) is a great player, way better than I am. But, the Golf Gods were with me this week. I got nothing but good breaks, and those breaks can go either way in this game.”
In the Super Senior (ages 65-74) Division, Chips Wooddy, a regular at the top of the senior leader board, edged out Jack Tuttle 2 and 1.
In the Grand Masters (ages 75 and over) Division, a pair of Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Famers battled it out before Ned Baber held off Bill Shrader 4 and 3.
Baber, 78, who has won at every level in the VSGA, fought off back problems to take control of the match by winning the 10th through 12th holes with birdie-par-par before closing out the match at the par-5 15th in unusual fashion.
Shrader hit his third shot to within 6 feet of the pin, but unfortunately it was the pin designated for the 13th hole on the oversized green that is shared by the 13th and 15th holes. Shrader’s first putt to the correct pin, 85 feet away, got to within 15 feet before rolling back 55 feet through a swail. From there, Shrader three-putted as Baber nursed up a gimme for the clincher.
“These greens are something,” Baber chuckled. “i three-putted from 6 feet on the 13th.”
“My back started hurting today while I warmed up and it progressively got worse,” Baber noted after stretching out on a clubhouse sofa. Obviously, perseverance paid off.
It was announced Saturday that the Match Play Championship will move to Roanoke Country Club in 2016.