Richard Rattan has always told his son, JohnScott, that a golf tournament doesn't really begin until the final nine holes of the last day of competition. That's why the Watkins Mill senior wasn't worried about his poor start on the second day of the Maryland state tournament.

JohnScott Rattan bogeyed four of the first six holes yesterday at the University of Maryland golf course, but recovered to complete a 74-71--145 and force a three-way, sudden-death playoff with Whitman senior Charles Hong (71-74--145) and Churchill junior Jairo Irreno (72-73--145).

Rattan and Hong battled through five playoff holes before Rattan emerged as the winner. Rattan made a short putt for par on the 14th hole after watching Hong make a bogey. Irreno was eliminated after the first playoff hole.

"I was five strokes down with 11 holes to play," said Rattan, an All-Met golfer last year. He finished third in last year's state tournament. "But I made a six-footer on 18 to force the playoff. I felt more pressure on 18 than on the last playoff hole, because in the playoff, you have a new life. If you mess up on 18, there's no chance."

Hong, who won the state tournament as a freshman, was disappointed with his third consecutive second-place finish. "When I was a freshman, I thought this was nothing," said Hong, last year's All-Met golfer of the year. "Now I know that it is very tough to win."

Whitman won the state 3A/4A title by a remarkable 55 strokes over Westminster, 605 to 660. Whitman's four players--Hong, David Litt (77-74--151), Gordon Chambers (77-77--154) and Randolph Shingler (79-76--155)--finished among the top 11. Walkersville won the 1A/2A title with 646.

Arundel sophomore Calli Vance won the girls title with an 80-79--159. Vance, who finished second at last year's state tournament, celebrated her 15th birthday yesterday. "I told my mom that I wanted to win states as my birthday present," Vance said. "She told me that she couldn't give me that, that I had to do it myself."