|Thursday, July 18, 2019 - |
WHEATON, Ill. – The number 13 is often synonymous with bad luck and unfortunate occurrences. Not anymore for Ethan Farnam.
A 70-foot birdie putt from Farnam (Crystal Lake / Crystal Lake CC), coupled with a double bogey from front-runner David Perkins (East Peoria / Quail Meadows GC), on Cantigny Golf’s par-3 13th hole propelled the Saint Mary’s College rising junior to victory in the 89th Illinois State Amateur Championship on Thursday. Farnam entered the final round of the weather-shortened 54-hole event four strokes back of Perkins, before carding a Thursday-best 3-under 69 to claim the title by two strokes at an 8-under-par total of 208.
“It feels amazing to finally be up on top the leaderboard again,” said Farnam, who also won the Illinois State Junior Amateur Championship in 2015.
Rounds of 69 and 70 on Tuesday and Wednesday put Farnam in the final grouping with Perkins, an Illinois State University rising senior who had not recorded a bogey through two rounds of 68 and 67 to build his advantage. Following a decision made Wednesday night to shorten the normal 36-hole final day to 18 due to an Excessive Heat Warning, the 41 players making the cut were greeted by a 5-hour and 30-minute weather delay Thursday morning. Finally teeing off at 2 p.m., it initially looked like more of the same consistent golf for Perkins, who kept Farnam at arm’s length by extending his bogeyless streak to 41 and building a six-stroke edge.
“He takes a six-stroke lead and right there I’m just like, ‘Ick. This is going to be tough,’ ” Farnam recalled. “He’s going to either have to give me something or I’m going to have to really give him something, and kind of both things happened.”
The tide began to turn on the par-3 eighth, where Farnam stuck a 6-iron tight and converted the birdie, which, coupled with a Perkins bogey, put him within three strokes. Farnam got one closer by rolling in a birdie putt on the par-5 11th after striking a wedge from 75 yards to two feet. Both players narrowly missed birdie opportunities on No. 12 before the championship-altering 13th.
Playing in to a steady 20-mile-per-hour wind after two still days, Farnam’s tee shot settled on the back edge of the green, while Perkins’ ended up in the bunker short and right. Perkins’ sand shot flew over the green before his comeback chip did not reach the putting surface. Meanwhile, Farnam was lining up his putt toward the front hole location, an opportunity he would convert for what he calls “one of the longest putts I’ve ever made in competition.” Perkins salvaged a double bogey, but suddenly found himself trailing for the first time since Tuesday.
“To do it right on the big stage and take the lead on that putt, that was nuts,” Farnam said.
“I just kind of struggled on that hole,” Perkins said of the 13th. “Watching him throw a 70-footer in, that was … I was thinking, ‘Ok, if I can get out of the worst hole of the day and still be even, totally got a big chance.’ Hats off to him. It was definitely a turning hole for him.”
Farnam extended his advantage with another par-5 birdie on No. 14, striking his third from 135 yards to three feet and converting the birdie opportunity. The duo matched pars the rest of the way in, with a Championship-ending 10-footer on No. 18 eliciting a fist-pump from an emotional Farnam.
“To come out and win this just completely makes up for that,” said Farnam, referring to a difficult stretch between leaving the Northwestern men’s golf team and enrolling at Saint Mary’s during which he considered giving up the game. “It’s a great feeling.”
Perkins’ 6-under total was good enough for a tie for second with Jordan Less (Elmhurst / Oak Brook GC), who defeated Perkins in last month’s 100th CDGA Amateur Championship final match at Glen View Club. Springfield native Jake Erickson (Springfield / Panther Creek CC) and incoming Illinois State University freshman Parker Wisdom (Bloomington / Bloomington CC) rounded out the top-five at 4-under. The low 20 and ties all earned exemptions in to next year’s Illinois State Amateur Championship, which will be contested at North Barrington’s The Club at Wynstone.
Farnam, Perkins and Less will be among those competing in the next CDGA-administered championship, the 4th CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship July 29-31 at Oak Park Country Club.
QUOTES OF NOTE
Ethan Farnam (champion) on how the victory will propel him moving forward…
“It’s definitely a large spring board. I’ve been trying to tell myself that I’ve been playing good and use that as my spring board, but to finally get on top of the leaderboard at the end of the tournament, I can pull from this and know I got it in the tank, I know what I’m doing and I can do it.”
David Perkins (T2) on his mindset going into the final day with a lead…
“It’s a learning experience. I’ve had a few of those already. I think I caught myself kind of trying to protect that lead too much and I should have just played more golf. I’m just going to treat it as a learning experience. He was playing well; I made a couple mistakes and he took advantage of it.”
Jordan Less (T2) on surging to a second-place finish with four-straight birdies on the back nine…
“It was a lot of fun on the back nine. Front nine, course was pretty wet, winds were high, so it was a tough scoring day. Once the winds calmed down a bit and we had a feel for what it was doing, how to play yardages into the wind and downwind, it got a lot more comfortable. We got in to some good numbers on the back nine and went right at them.”
Parker Wisdom (T4) on what he learned from this State Am experience before entering his freshman season at ISU…
“I can definitely compete, I know that. I’m just going to keep trying to get better and better. Just to stick with it the whole time. Don’t give up, just keep pushing and grinding to the end.”
Ethan Farnam was the only player in the field to card three under-par rounds (69-70-69). He also notched just two bogeys throughout the course of the Championship.
Jordan Less’ second-place finish in the State Am is the best showing in the event by the reigning CDGA Amateur champion since Joel Hirsch won both titles in 1988. Less won the 2019 CDGA Am in June by defeating David Perkins in 37 holes at Glen View Club.
David Perkins did not record a bogey on a par 5 throughout the course of the tournament.
Jake Erickson notched a 1-under 71 to finish tied for fourth at 4-under overall. Erickson has now finished in the top-12 of this event in five of the previous seven iterations.
Parker Wisdom’s 1-over 73 was good enough to finish tied for fourth at 4-under overall. After carding a 40 on the front nine Thursday, Wisdom responded with his best nine of the championship, posting a 33 down the stretch.
This year’s State Am is just the third time the event has been shortened to 54 holes since the format was switched from match play to stroke play in 1963. Ravi Patel emerged victorious at Ironhorse Golf Club in Tuscola in 2007, while Patrick Flavin claimed the title at Calumet Country Club in 2017.
The par-5 14th statistically played as the easiest scoring hole throughout the tournament, featuring a scoring average of 4.774. The most-difficult was the par-4 18th, as competitors averaged 4.497 on the water-lined finisher.
The State Am field totaled eight eagles throughout the week, half of which came on par 4s.