JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Derek Bard has found his groove this summer.
The soon-to-be junior at the University of Virginia, from New Hartford, N.Y., posted a final-round 66 to edge Georgia Southern golfer Scott Wolfes by a stroke to win the Sunnehanna Amateur.
Bard placed third in U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Timber Banks Golf Club & Marina, where he shot 72, to advance to Sectionals. Then last week, he took home another third place finish at the Monroe Invitational. Now, he'll head back to upstate New York with a victory at one of the summer's most prestigious tournaments.
"I felt good about my game coming into the week," Bard said. "I looked the course up online before the week and saw that it was a par-70 and similar to Monroe [Golf Club].
"I made a game plan during the practice round and tried to stick to that all four rounds and it worked out," he said.
This was Bard's first attempt at playing in the Sunnehanna Amateur, which in its 62nd year has been won by notable players such as Rickie Fowler, Lucas Glover, Scott Verplank, and Brad Faxon.
The tournament's end-of-round leads were held by a different player at the conclusion of each day. Bard cruised through the first three rounds, shooting 67-68-67 and being paired in the final group with 54-hole leader Chase Koepka of the University of South Florida and Western Carolina golfer J.T. Poston.
Bard trailed Koepka by two on the first tee for Saturday's final round, but used birdies at holes 1 and 3, as well as double-bogey from Koepka at the 4th, to grab hold of the lead early on the front nine at Sunnehanna Country Club.
"I knew I had the lead after four holes," Bard said. "I knew how I stood the whole way but I just tried to not overcomplicate anything and just stick to my game plan on each hole.
"It got a little tight there down the stretch, which was a little nerve-wracking, but I pulled it out," he said.
Second-place finisher Wolfes was right on Bard's tail, and had not made a bogey all day until he made four at the par-3 16th hole. His 65 was one of four posted on the final day, but didn't stand as the lowest score of the closing round. That title went to Oklahoma State golfer Max McGreevy, who used a 64 to jump into the top-15.
Koepka, brother of PGA Tour player Brooks Koepka, fought back nicely after going out in three-over 38. He posted a bogey-free 32, with three birdies, on the back and finished in a tie for third place at 10-under.
Tying for third alongside Koepka were 2014 Dixie Amateur winner Brandon Matthews and soon-to-be Ohio State freshman Will Grimmer.
Bard will take a much-deserved two weeks off, and will return to action when he attempts to qualify for this year's U.S. Amateur, which is being held at Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois. Then he'll head to Berkeley Hall, S.C. for the Players Amateur, back up to his home state for the New York Men's State Amateur, over to Buffalo for the Porter Cup, and then out to the midwest for the Western Amateur at Rich Harvest Farms.