|Thursday, July 30, 2015 - |
LIBERTYVILLE – The list of accomplishments for Taylorville’s Dave Ryan just keeps on growing.
Ryan, the five-time CDGA Senior Player of the Year, repeated as champion in a state or CDGA event for the first time after defeating Lake Forest’s Craig Sopko, 3 and 2, in Thursday’s CDGA Senior Amateur Championship title match at Merit Club. Ryan also became just the second person in the event’s 14-year history to win it multiple times, joining three-time winner Tom Miler.
Ryan’s repeat attempt got off to a shaky start, as he went 2 down after bogeying two of the first five holes. However, his comeback started on the par-4 sixth, when Sopko appeared to halve the hole with a par before calling a penalty stroke on himself for double-hitting his putt.
“It was unfortunate for Craig, but in my situation, it gave me some mojo and helped me feel a little better about my game,” Ryan said.
“I knew that it was the right thing to do to call a penalty on myself,” Sopko said. “I don’t know if the ball hit a bump or hopped up in the air, but the match kind of changed a little bit. The momentum changed right around then.”
“No one saw it, and he called it on himself,” Ryan added. “I commend him for that. That takes a lot of class to do that.”
Ryan continued his surge and evened the match with a par on 7. From there, both golfers played the track at even par until 11 and 12, when back-to-back bogeys by Sopko put Ryan 2 up. Both players parred 13 and 14 before Ryan moved dormie with an impressive birdie on 15. After finding the fairway bunker off the tee, Ryan recovered with an approach shot to eight feet before converting the birdie putt.
“It was on an uphill lie, and I had about 112 yards left to the pin,” Ryan said of his decisive approach shot. “It just fit my eye, and I was fortunate to pull it off.
Sopko looked to potentially have an opportunity to keep the match alive on the par-3 16th when his tee shot found the center of the green and Ryan’s rolled down the bank off the left edge. However, Sopko missed his birdie putt and Ryan got up and down to clinch the Championship.
“I hit a really good chip shot there to close it out,” Ryan said.
Ryan earned the top seed for match play after firing a 2-under-par 70 in Monday’s stroke play round. He then defeated Tommy Robinson, Ted Pecora and Mark Palmer in match play to advance to the championship. The second-seeded Sopko shot 71 in stroke play before beating Edward Mular, Miler and Steven Jacobs in match play. Sopko’s victory over Miler ended a streak of three-straight finals appearance for Miler.
The next test for Ryan, Sopko and the rest of the state’s top seniors will be the 29th Illinois State Senior Championship, Sept. 16-18 at Ravisloe Country Club.
Match Play Results
(1) Dave Ryan (Illini CC) def. (2) Craig Sopko (Exmoor CC) 3 and 2
(1) Dave Ryan (Illini CC) def. (5) Mark Palmer (Glen Flora CC), 3 and 2
(2) Craig Sopko (Exmoor CC) def. (6) Steven Jacobs (Pine Meadow GC), 3 and 2
(1) Dave Ryan (Illini CC) def. (9) Ted Pecora (Bob O’Link GC), 2 and 1
(5) Mark Palmer (Glen Flora CC) def. (4) Jim Kennedy (Cog Hill G&CC), 2 and 1
(2) Craig Sopko (Exmoor CC) def. (10) Tom Miler (Kewanee Dunes), 1 up
(6) Steven Jacobs (Pine Meadow GC) def. (14) Vance Antoniou (Butler National GC), 3 and 2
Round of 16
(1) Dave Ryan (Illini CC) def. (16) Tommy Robinson (Deerfield GC), 2 and 1
(9) Ted Pecora (Bob O’Link GC) def. (8) Larry Vaughan (Arrowhead GC), 6 and 5
(5) Mark Palmer (Glen Flora CC) def. (12) Jerry Maatman, Jr. (Chicago GC), 1 up
(4) Jim Kennedy (Cog Hill G&CC) def. (13) Tom Destefani (Village Links of Glen Ellyn), 5 and 4
(2) Craig Sopko (Exmoor CC) def. (15) Edward Mular (White Pines GC), 2 up
(10) Tom Miler (Kewanee Dunes) def. (7) Mark Esposito (Blackberry Oaks GC), 3 and 2
(6) Steven Jacobs (Pine Meadow GC) def. (11) John Madden (Medinah CC), 3 and 2
(14) Vance Antoniou (Butler National GC) def. (3) Mark Hannon (Bolingbrook GC), 3 and 2