TEMPLE TERRACE — It was hard to ascertain which was louder Tuesday afternoon: the yellow-and-black size 11 golf shoes on Chamberlain junior Gary Buffington's feet, or the statement he made with his putter.
On a bright day in which the chill in the air subsided but the wind never did, Buffington used his putter — not to mention course prudence — to win the Class 2A, District 10 tournament against a daunting field at Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club.
"I've been putting unbelievably," said Buffington, whose shoes are a partial testament to the Pittsburgh Steelers. "Even when I struggled on the back I had confidence that I would make some putts."
Buffington blistered the front nine en route to 3-over-par 76, two shots ahead of Gaither freshman Jimmy Stanger and Plant sophomore Zach Johnson. Plant won its fifth consecutive district team title with a four-player total of 322, nine strokes ahead of Chamberlain and 14 ahead of Gaither.
Facing swirling winds, Buffington kept his beloved driver in his bag most of the day and avoided any catastrophic holes despite five bogeys on the back nine.
By contrast, he finished the front 1-under 35, watching a 45-foot putt lip out on the first hole and draining a 30-footer for birdie on the 373-yard, par-4 No. 2.
"I kind of limped in (on the back nine), I guess," he said. "I saw that after the front nine I had the lead so I tried to be smart about it and not make a double (bogey). If I can make it through and not make a double bogey I've had a decent round."
Collectively, Chamberlain's performance was as stunning as Buffington's was solid.
The Chiefs, who entered with a 173 team average for nine holes (346 for 18), earned one of the district's three team spots in next week's Region 4 tournament in Riverview. Senior Ben Lagos, the No. 5 player, had 81.
Plant, meantime, was the only team with two players — Johnson and senior Charles Silverfield (79) — to eclipse 80. King's Tyler Weed and Hunter McPhillips and Alonso's Kody Tibbetts earned individual region berths after edging Sickles' Danny Ervin in a two-hole playoff.