|Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - |
FLOSSMOOR, Ill. – Todd Mitchell finished 54 holes at 3-under par, gapping the field by two strokes to win the Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship for a record fifth time. Defending champion Chadd Slutzky and Derek Meinhart, who held a share of the lead following each of the first two rounds, finished tied for second in the 24th edition of the event, contested at Flossmoor Country Club.
“I haven’t won it in a while, so I kind of forgot how it felt,” Mitchell said following the Championship. “It’s very nice, especially with the guys that were out here. Chadd (Slutzky) is a great player, Derek (Meinhart) is a great player. We battled a very tough day with the wind blowing, and I basically held on with both hands and got her in.”
It was the 38-year old Bloomington native’s fifth victory in the State Mid-Am, an event for amateur golfers over the age of 25 who are residents of Illinois. The most any other player has won the event is twice—a feat achieved by four golfers. In the state series of championships, Mitchell matches Jim Frisina, Sr. for the most victories in a single state amateur championship. Frisina won the Illinois State Amateur Championship a record five times between 1942 and 1958. Mitchell is a two-time Illinois State Amateur champ, winning in 2002 and 2003, making it is seven state championships overall for his career.
“The first time I won a State event was 2002. That was 14 years ago and over that time to win that many, I’m very proud of that,” Mitchell added.
Mitchell carded an opening round 70 in wet conditions on Tuesday and followed it up with an even-par 72 in the split second round (nine holes each were played Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning). Following the cut, Mitchell found himself in the next-to-last group, where a 1-under 71 with four birdies against three bogeys was enough to claim the title.
“It was different things,” Mitchell said of what allowed him to be consistent throughout the event. “The first couple of rounds, it was my ball-striking. I hit the ball really well. I didn’t really putt or chip too well, and in this last round it came down to putting and chipping. It was there when I needed it.”
Rain delayed tee times two-and-a-half hours on Tuesday, when 36 holes were originally slated for a field of 78 golfers. Due to the late start, the field contested 27 holes on Tuesday, then returned to play their next nine with tee times on Wednesday morning. Following the completion of the second round, the field was cut to 35 golfers, who then battled for the championship, along with qualifying exemptions for the low 20 and ties.
Meinhart, who opened the event with a tournament-best 69 on Tuesday, held a share of the lead through 36 holes, before shooting a final round 74 to slip into a tie with defending champ Chadd Slutzky. Axel Ochoa, who shared the 36-hole lead with Meinhart, shot 84 in the final group to finish T11.
In all, 23 golfers earned exemptions from qualifying for the silver anniversary of Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship, to be played next summer at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Ill.