Crist defends Riggs Memorial title
BUSTI — Scott Crist sat in a golf cart a short distance from the 18th green at South Hills Country Club on Sunday afternoon, accepting congratulations from his peers.
It’s become a habit.
Crist fired a 4-under 68 to claim the 31st Jim Riggs Memorial Champions by four shots over Marcus Lutgen. For Crist, it was his second title in a row, having won the “Riggs” in 2019 at Cable Hollow Golf Course.
“I’m just pleasantly surprised,” he said. “This is the best score I’ve had all year.”
And while the 2020 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Crist picked up right where he left off two years ago, fending off scratch club champions — in both 2019 and 2020 — from all of the regulation 18- and nine-hole courses in the circulation areas of The Post-Journal, the OBSERVER and the Times Observer. Past champions also received invites, bringing the total number of confirmed entries to 27.
Crist felt comfortable from the beginning, shooting 3-under on the front 9, highlighted by birdies on holes 7, 8 and 9.
“To birdie those three holes, No. 9 especially (the par 3, 210-yarder). … I don’t think I’ve ever birdied it. I haven’t played here a million times, but I’ve played here enough. When I chipped it in, then all of a sudden you’re at 32.”
On the back nine, Crist bogeyed No. 11, but parred 12 and 13. Then, on No. 14, he “hit the best drive of the day” and made a 30-foot putt for a birdie.
“From then on, I was trying to make birdies, but also trying not to mess it up. … I know I can play good golf, but you just never know when. I’ve played South Hills enough so I know it, and I just settled in and played good golf and I putted real well.”
Lutgen earned the runner-up spot after sinking about a 20-foot putt on No. 18 to finish at even-par 72. Sharing third-place honors with a 73 were Nolan Swanson and Kevin Kaszuba, followed by John Wortman, Jordan Marsh and Nolan Ditcher, each with a 74. Nate Sandberg, Josh Harrington and Taylor Beaver finished at 3-over 75.
Other rounds in the 70s belonged to, Marty Stockwell, Tony Pellegrino and Andrew Gignac, 76; Matt Moonen and Scott Jagoda, 77; Brenton Wilcox, 78; and Bob Paterniti, Casey Vincent, Anthony Gullo and Greg Winter, 79.
Patrick Swanson, 80; Dan Smith and P.J. Gronquist, 81; Sam Marek, 83; Chad Swan and Mike Boticello, 84; and Mike Bancroft, 89 rounded out the field.
The Jim Riggs Memorial Champions is named after the late former Post-Journal sports editor, who began the event in 1990 as a way to recognize men’s scratch club champions in a stroke-play tournament. The site for the 2022 Jim Riggs Memorial Champions has yet to be determined.