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CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLF ASSOCIATION

For Everyone Who Plays the Game

Midwest Golf House Contact: Casey Richards
11855 Archer Avenue (630) 685-2324
Lemont, IL 60439 crichards@cdga.org
Contact: Tim Merrick
(630) 685-2302
tmerrick@cdga.org
Contact: Jacob Bomeli
(630) 685-2345
jbomeli@cdga.org
 
For Immediate ReleaseJuly 20, 2021
 
DEFENDING FARNAM, B1G CHAMP MCCLEAR TIED FOR ROUND 1 IL STATE AM LEAD 
 
Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - ROMEOVILLE, Ill. - Ethan Farnam (Crystal Lake) is his own toughest critic.

Entering the 90th Illinois State Amateur Championship as the event’s defending champion, having emerged victorious at Cantigny Golf in 2019 before COVID necessitated the 2020 iteration’s cancelation, Farnam was nonplussed at being regaled about his play leading up to his title defense.

“Everyone’s like ‘Hey, didn’t you just win this event?’ But it was two years ago,” Farnam said. “I have not been playing good, so it’s pretty frustrating when everyone’s telling you how good you are because you won this event and you’re really not playing that good.”

Even Farnam was satisfied with himself following a 7-under 65 in the opening round Tuesday at Mistwood Golf Club. The 22-year-old Saint Mary’s (California) senior shares the first-round lead with Mac McClear (Hinsdale), a rising junior at Iowa who won the Big Ten individual championship in May.

Starting on the back nine, Farnam “hit every drive perfect,” but battled some “shaky” and “nervy” wedge play early and stood at 2-under with four holes to play. However, the lefty proceeded to go on a tear to close his round, playing the final four holes at 5-under. The stretch was jump-started by a tap-in eagle on the par-5 sixth - one that nearly missed being his second albatross in one week - and concluded with a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 ninth. 

“That was my longest putt of the day, so that felt nice,” Farnam said.

McClear’s round was one more rooted in consistency than fueled by a surge like Farnam’s. The 20-year-old, playing in his first State Am since debuting as a 16-year-old in 2017, mitigated one bogey on the day with eight birdies. Riding the confidence garnered from winning the Big Ten, McClear was pleased with all assets of his game on a sunny and hot morning.

“A lot of things were working today,” McClear said. “Pretty much everything was good. I drove it well, hit a lot of good iron shots. My wedges were particularly good. That’s something I’ve been working on and it paid off today. And it always helps to make a couple putts.

“[Winning the Big Ten] obviously gave me a lot of confidence to know that I can win big tournaments and win against some of the best players in the country,” McClear said. “I just tried to keep that confidence rolling, keep doing the same things and it seems to be working so far.”

Jordan Less (Elmhurst) - the 2019 CDGA Co-Player of the Year and 2019 State Am runner up - headlines a three-way tie for third following a 5-under 67. Joining Less to round out the top five are Anthony Ruthey (Port Byron) - a rising redshirt sophomore at SIUE who concluded his round with five consecutive birdies - and Jake Hennessy (Oak Lawn) - a recent Dallas Baptist graduate and Beverly Country Club member who qualified for the U.S. Amateur last week.

The entire field will play another 18-hole round on Wednesday, before the field is cut to the low 35 and ties in advance of Thursday’s final 36 holes.

Quotes of Note

Ethan Farnam on the importance of driving the ball well at Mistwood…
“Honestly it’s a driving golf course this week. The way it’s set up - the rough is gnarly. I hit every drive perfect. I think I hit two drives perfect that got bad kicks and still went in the rough. It’s really demanding off the tee and I just hit every single one as good as I could, so that was huge.” 

Mac McClear on how he has evolved since his State Am debut in 2017…
“Looking back at that first one, I was definitely a smaller guy. Definitely a different player. And it definitely didn’t work out so well - I missed the cut pretty handily that week. I’ve definitely grown as a person and a player and I’m just better all around now.”

Mac McClear on the challenge that Mistwood Golf Club provides…
“It’s a short course here at Mistwood (6,808 yards), but they have the rough really long and there’s a lot of water and fescue. If you strayed away from the fairways, you’re definitely getting in trouble.”

Jordan Less on his approach throughout his 5-under 67...
“If you put the ball in play out here, you’re going to have a lot of wedges. I didn’t hit any tee shots off line, so I was kind of always looking at birdie or par. I hit a lot of greens, and when I missed a green I left myself with some pretty easy tap-ins.”

Anthony Ruthey on his stretch of five straight birdies to close his round...
“When I started out the round, I wasn’t hitting the driver straight. I was just trying to find it a little bit. It wasn’t horrible - a couple in the rough, a couple left. I was just trying to stay patient with it. I wasn’t going to try to force any birdies. I knew that this was going to be a long tournament, hopefully 72 holes for me. It kind of paid off towards the end - I was able to stay in the moment and be patient. The birdies started to come, the putts started to drop and I did a really good job of staying in the moment and that was the biggest thing.”

Jake Hennessy on how his opening round unfolded...
[Mistwood is] a great course. It can kind of beat you up if you find some trouble. I did a good job avoiding most of the hazards. The greens are so good that if you give yourself some wedges, you can have some good opportunities. Luckily I got some birdies to fall.” 

Notables

  • The par-5 18th statistically played as the easiest scoring hole of the first round, featuring a scoring average of 4.686. The hole also featured five eagles throughout the day.
  • The par-4 11th statistically played as the hardest scoring hole of the first round, featuring a scoring average of 4.504. The hole featured 13 double bogeys and 6 “others” - defined as triple bogey or more.
  • The field’s average round one score was 76.371. In comparison, the opening round average score at Cantigny in 2019 was 75.713.
  • The field combined to card 14 eagles in the first round. Only eight eagles were notched throughout the entirety of the 2019 State Am at Cantigny.
  • Twelve players finished in red figures on Tuesday at Mistwood. That is the same number of players that finished under par for the entirety of the championship at Cantigny in 2019, the event’s last iteration.
  • The top seven golfers in the field played in the morning wave. Tommy Kuhl (Morton), who sits in eighth, fired the best round of the afternoon wave with a 3-under 69.
  • The opening-round 65 by Farnam is the lowest first-round score by a defending champion since at least 2006. Five of his career six Illinois State Amateur Championship rounds have now been under par.
  • Farnam is looking to join an illustrious group of nine golfers who have won consecutive Illinois State Amateur titles. Bloomington’s Todd Mitchell was the last back-to-back winner in 2002 and 2003. Fifteen players have won the event multiple times, with Tee-K Kelly the last to do so in 2013 and 2015.
  • Home-club hopeful Jeff Laski (Downers Grove), the lone Mistwood member in the field, carded a 5-over 77 in the first round.
  • Nick Tenuta (Mt. Prospect) shot a 3-over 75. The University of Louisville senior won the 101st CDGA Amateur Championship last month at Bull Valley Golf Club.
 
Chicago District Golf Association
The Chicago District Golf Association (CDGA) is the regional governing body for amateur golf in Illinois and parts of three other states. The CDGA services more than 400 clubs and 80,000 individual golfers. Golfers receive member offers, a USGA Handicap Index® and competitive playing opportunities, while clubs receive USGA rating and measuring services, turfgrass diagnostics and educational seminars. Midwest Golf House and its Three-Hole Sunshine Course are home to the CDGA Foundation, which annually serves more than 1,000 individuals with special needs and wounded veterans while also bringing playing opportunities to youth golfers. Founded on March 18, 1914, the CDGA is one of the largest and oldest golf associations in the United States.
 
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