SANDY, Utah -- If his Mustache Madness victory caused James Nitties to get a little choked up, you couldn't tell. After all, he had on sunglasses -- all part of the look that made Nitties the fifth different Mustache Madness winner in the event's five-year history. As Nitties stroked his winning beard-mustache ensemble that fellow Tour players were affectionately calling The Monkeytail, he said, "I would first like to thank my parents for their great Greek-Croatian ethnicity."
Nitties beat 17 other competitors Tuesday night during the contest held poolside at Willow Creek Country Club, site of this week's Utah Championship. Nitties' toughest rival may have been fellow finalist D.J. Brigman, whose handlebar mustache received a large block of voting support from the judges but ultimately came up short, causing the Australian-born Nitties to say, "This is the brightest achievement of my career."
Nitties' entry, which really looked like an elaborate J because of his choice of no sideburns on the right side of his face, was enough to dethrone 2011 champion Bryan DeCorso, who went out in the second round this year.
"I've always been pretty good at making an idiot of myself, so I chose a look that I didn't think anybody else would do. And it paid off," Nitties said.
Nitties, who began growing his beard and mustache two weeks ago, didn't make the customized trim to his right sideburn an hour or so before the competition, however. Instead, he pulled out the razor and performed the precision-like cut Monday night, at his home in Dallas. Then this morning, he got on a plane to come here.
"Oh, I got some pretty strange looks in the airport this morning," he laughed. "But nobody said anything to me, and I wasn't making a lot of eye contact."
As Nitties admired the plaque he won that will bear his name and picture, he promised that the look was here to stay -- at least through the end of the week.
"I have to keep it now. I'm the champion."