Former Tiger Wins Match Play Championship

Former Clemson All-American Dillard Pruitt won the 31st South Carolina Amateur Match Play golf championship Sunday, 5 and 3, over Todd White of Moore. Pruitt, playing on the course on which he grew up, was 10 under par through 33 holes in beating the 1991 champion at Green Valley Country Club.

"That makes this a very special win," said the 41-year-old PGA Tour rules official and former PGA Tour player and winner. Pruitt won two top-level amateur titles in 2002, the Sunnehanna Amateur and the Canadian Amateur.

"Working on the PGA Tour does not include playing the game," he said. "I played in only three amateur tournaments last year and hope to play in six this year."

Pruitt played for the Tigers from 1980-84 and was Larry Penley's first All-American in 1984. He went on to play eight years on the PGA Tour. He became the first Clemson golfer to win a PGA Tour event, the 1991 Chattanooga Classic. He played in the Masters twice, 1992 and 1993, finishing 13th in 1992. That was the best finish by a Clemson golfer at the Masters prior to this year. In 2003 Jonathan Byrd eclipsed that mark with an eighth place finish. Pruitt then regained his amateur status two years ago.

Pruitt said his goal is to play for the U.S. Walker Cup team, against the British team, the highest feat an amateur golfer can attain at that level, he said.

White and Pruitt traded early-hole wins before Pruitt won the seventh hole for a one-up lead after nine holes. Pruitt birdied the 14th, 15th and 16th holes to expand his lead to four-up but lost the 18th hole to take a three-up lead to lunch.

Pruitt won the 19th, 20th and 22nd holes to expand his lead to six holes before White charged back with victories at the 23rd, 25th and 27th holes. After both players birdied the par-four 28th hole, Pruitt birdied the 29th and 30th holes. White birdied the 32nd hole but Pruitt birdied the 33rd hole to claim the title.

White, 35, is a high school history teacher. "Each time I tried to come back, Dillard came right back to increase his lead. I was always going uphill. I am a competitive person and dislike losing. But if I have to lose, I'd prefer to do so to Dillard. He is a genuinely nice guy."

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