CLEMMONS — Stuart Fuller could feel the Einstein family bearing down on him, but he never wavered in the final round of the 72nd Forsyth Invitational at Tanglewood Park’s Championship Course on Sunday afternoon.
Fuller shot a 1 over 71 to do just enough to hold off Brandon Einstein and his father, Greg, who stayed within striking distance all day. Fuller watched Brandon miss a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have forced a playoff.
“Brandon’s such a good player I expected him to make it, but it just slide by,” said Fuller, a rising junior at Wofford College who was playing in his first Forsyth Invitational. “Both Brandon and his dad and Chris (Logan) were all chasing me so I knew I had to put together some kind of a round to stay in the lead.”
Also chasing Fuller from the foursome in front was Mark Johnston, who shot a 69 to finish two shots back.
Fuller had no idea about Johnston’s run at the lead, but he did keep an eye on both of the Einsteins, who were going for their first Forsyth Invitational. Greg, 52, and Brandon, a rising sophomore at High Point University, were just one shot back heading to the 18th hole.
Fuller pulled his tee shot to the left on the par 4 and had to negotiate going around a tree on his 150-yard approach to a pin that was tucked to the left. He decided to take his pitching wedge, and out of the rough, hit what was the winning shot of the tournament.
“I had to sling it around that tree about 30 yards and I was hoping that my adrenaline would kick in so that’s why I hit wedge, but I pulled it off,” Fuller said.
His approach found the green to the right about 40 feet away, but he hit a near-perfect first putt to within inches and tapped in for par.
Brandon hit his approach to within 12 feet while Greg found the front bunker on his approach, and his shot out of the bunker was short.
The only drama left was for Brandon to try and send it to a playoff.
“I hit it just a little too hard and it didn’t break,” said Brandon, who hit 17 of 18 greens but couldn’t find his touch with his putter. “What can I say? I was around the cup all day but couldn’t make anything.”
Brandon, who was also runner-up to Uly Grisette in 2017, wound up shooting 69 and finished at 7 under for the tournament, one shot back. Greg, who shot 71, finished three shots back and and Johnston was two shots back.
Fuller, whose family are members at Old Town, had his father, Winn, helping him along in the final round when he needed it.
“He really stayed steady throughout the whole tournament,” Winn said. “He really did a good job of staying focused and I think that was key.”
Fuller, who shot 65 at Reynolds Park on Friday and then 69 at Pine Knolls on Saturday, started Sunday with a three-shot lead on Logan and the two Einsteins. After nine holes he still had a three-shot lead on the Einsteins but Johnston trailed by just two.
“They had me really nervous because they are both great players,” Fuller said about the Einsteins. “We had a nice foursome and we all just kind of had our stretches. I had some nice par putts on the front side because I had eight pars and one bogey so I don’t think people realize how much those saving par putts help.”
Fuller was going against a long tradition of the Einstein family in the tournament. Freddy, who is Greg’s father and Brandon’s grandfather, won the 1973 tournament and was there on Sunday following the final foursome. Freddy remembers winning his one Forsyth Invitational by holding off Ron Morgan.
“It’s kind of cool to have all three generations here, so this was fun,” Greg said. “It’s tough for Brandon because he was around the hole all day and didn’t make anything, but he did well the whole tournament. And I’m happy the way I played because I hung in there to the end.”
Fuller had two birdies on the back side and a bogey at 16 that saw his lead dwindle to two. When Brandon birdied 17 both of the Einsteins were down one heading to 18.
Fuller said to win the Forsyth Invitational means a lot.
“Growing up here in Winston even though we moved to Chapel Hill for three years because my dad works for North Carolina, this is home,” Fuller said. “To win this tournament is pretty awesome and to end the summer like this bodes well as I get back to Wofford.”
Fuller and his family moved back to Winston-Salem from Chapel Hill in January. He nearly didn’t make it into the field.
“I had to drive my application to downtown to the recreation department the day before the deadline because I wanted to make sure I got in,” Fuller said. “I’m glad I drove the application down there because it turned out well for me. It was a lot of fun.”