RUMFORD, RI (June 25, 2016) -- Fred Wedel put off turning professional for one reason, "to win one of these amateur events," Wedel said. Well now he has won two events in a six day span. Last Sunday Wedel won the Texas Amateur and now he has claimed one of the most prestigious trophies in all of amateur golf, the Northeast Amateur.
Playing on a postcard perfect day at Wannamoisett Country Club, the recent Pepperdine graduate rallied from four shots back at the start of the final day to win by a stroke. Wedel finished 6-under, while Patrick Martin and Sean Crocker tied for second at 5-under.
At the beginning of the day, Auburn senior Matt Gilchrest led the way at 8-under as he looked to go wire-to-wire, but right out of the gates he faltered with bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3. On the fourth, the 2015 All-SEC first teamer appeared to have righted the ship with his first birdie of the day. However, two more bogeys followed and in a blink Gilchrest was turning in 3-over 37 and back to 5-under for the week.
After his early struggles, Gilchrest was never able to get it going as he finished with a 5-over 73 and 3-under for the week, tied for fourth. During his final 20 holes, Gilchrest was 8-over after sitting at 11-under heading to the 17th tee on Friday.
While Gilchrest struggled Wedel surged, with three birdies and just one bogey on the front nine. So as Wedel made the turn, two groups in front of Gilchrest, he was 2-under for the day and 6-under for the week.
On the back nine Wedel continued to make his move, with a birdie on No. 10, a bogey on the 12th briefly stopped his momentum before a 13th hole birdie brought him back to 7-under. A couple of holes later, on the 15th, Wedel seemingly put the tournament away.
His tee shot on the 196 yard par-3 came to rest nine-feet from the pin and the two-time All-WCC first teamer calmly rolled in the ensuing birdie putt to reach 8-under.
Despite having the lead, Wedel didn't make it easy on himself. Following a par on 16, Wedel block sliced his tee shot into the rough on 17 and bogeyed the hole. The closing hole is a 456 yard par-4 and once more Wedel was in trouble off the tee, missing the fairway to the right and ending up in some of the thickest rough on the course. With a tree in his way, Wedel was forced to stay right and after his pitch shot came to rest he had 12-feet left for par. The putt missed dropping Wedel to 6-under and opening the door to the field with two groups still to follow.
"Winning is really hard, that is the most simple way I can put it," said Wedel. "After I birdied No. 15 I was feeling comfortable, especially after I parred 16."
The first player to have a chance at forcing a playoff, was Vanderbilt sophomore Patrick Martin. Playing alongside Wedel, Martin had a chip from just off the green on 18 that scared the hole but wouldn't fall. Martin finished 5-under and in a tie for second.
In the next group was USC junior Sean Crocker, who was tied for the lead. With a chance to win the tournament on the 72nd hole, Crocker split the fairway with his drive and had a green light yardage for his second. However, his approach shot came up a bit short and after rolling back Crocker had a lengthy uphill putt for the win. Crocker hit a good putt, leaving himself with a short uphill par putt that somehow lipped out. The last bullet had been dodged, as Crocker finished 5-under and tied for second with Martin.
For Wedel, Saturday's win was an indication of how far he has come since last year, when he missed the cut at the Northeast Amateur.
"It just shows how much better I have gotten in the last year, it is something to be proud of," Wedel said. "it is just a process and it is my biggest win by far. I am absolutely thrilled."
Wedel plans on remaining an amateur until after August's U.S. Amateur and he has two goals in mind. First is to improve his game, while the second is to better his semifinalist finish at the 2014 U.S. Amateur.
"I understand that there are a lot of better golfers out there than me and I just have to keep at it. If I stay at this same level I’m probably not going to do anything that special out on the professional circuit’s so I just have to keep refining things," Wedel said.
The refining of his game will continue to come, but as Fred Wedel flies back home he can relish in the fact that he is presently the player on the top of the amateur golfing world.