SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The hunt for the trophy at Buffalo Ridge golf course in Branson reached its final stage Friday with plenty of big names in the hunt from Vijay Singh to Bernhard Langer.
But the name they’re chasing is probably not the one they were expecting when they came this week.
Shane Bertsch hasn’t won a tournament since his Korn Ferry Tour days back in 2015.
In just his second PGA Tour Champions appearance, though, he took a four stroke lead into the final round.
Things, however, fell apart on the par-5 8th.
Bertsch’s second shot found a hazard, and then his fourth caught the trees.
But the Colorado native managed a huge up and down after that to save bogey and maintain his lead for the time being, now down to just one stroke at 13 under.
“Believe it or not, even though that was a fluke hole – that’s where I won the tournament with that up and down,” Bertsch said. “I think I had 74 yards out of the rough to that elevated green. Under a tree, out of the rough and got it up and down for six.”
Still, that opened the door to the golfers behind him.
Glen Day managed an up and down of his own for birdie.
He finished his round at 13 under.
But it looked like 14 under would be the new mark behind Kenny Perry.
The Kentucky native knocked in a birdie on 8 as well and made it to 14-under on the back nine.
Bertsch stayed nipping at his heels, along with Bernhard Langer.
The German sank this birdie on 10 and went on to reach 13 under as well, placing three golfers just one stroke back of Perry heading into the final hole.
Perry failed to seal the deal, bogeying the final hole and setting up a four player playoff back on the 1st hole.
Order was determined by picking Buffalo skulls, each of which had a number underneath.
Bersch drew last and proceeded to watch the other three get taken by the wind into the right bunker.
So Bersch goes left instead, and while the others had to lay up.
He had this chance for eagle and the win – and it dropped.
Despite letting his four stroke lead slip away, Bertsch claims the trophy at Buffalo Ridge for his first career win since the Korn Ferry Tour.
“Oh, it’s incredible,” Bertsch said. “It’s incredible. I’m proud to be a winner of this tournament. That trophy is going to be, it’s always going to be with me. It’s a special one. I always had a hard time saying what my most special moment in golf was. Without a doubt, it was that putt on the first playoff hole.”
So an exciting finish for the PGA Tour Champions golfers here at Buffalo Ridge, but they don’t get much time to rest.
On Monday, they start up all over again for another three round tournament just up the hill over at Ozarks National golf course.