Illinois State Am: Barlow is tops

WHEATON, Ill. (Aug. 14, 2008)--While many players struggled with the challenging Cantigny layout, Zach Barlow (Percy) tallied a seven-under par 281 over 72 holes to win the 78th annual Illinois State Amateur Championship. Barlow carded a 71-71 over the final 36 holes on Thursday to preserve a three-stroke victory over a hard-charging Phillip Arouca (Winnetka).

“I tried to play with no pressure today,” said the 21-year old Barlow. “But I always knew where I was at and what I had to do. I wasn’t out there to play any one guy, I was there playing the course and playing my game. I tried to shoot the lowest number possible.”

Arouca, who finished the first round in a tie for 90th after an 80, used a second round 67 to sneak below the cut line. He started the day with a 71 and followed with a tournament-best 66 in the final round, but came up just short of the title in his final amateur event.

“I birdied my 14th hole (Woodside #5) and I felt if I could get two more, Zach would have to play 17 (Lakeside #8), with a tough pin placement, and 18, where there’s water all over, that I might have a chance of catching him,” Arouca said.

Arouca, who turned professional after the event, will make his debut at next month’s Nebraska Open.

Tim Lynch (Lake Forest) and Michael Slovitt (Winnetka) rounded out the quartet of players under par, finishing tied for third, four shots off the pace. After opening the first two rounds with even par 72s, Lynch scored 70-71 on Thursday, while Slovitt carded a trio of 71s before a final round 72. Tommy Bliefnick (Decatur) rounded out the top-five at an even-par 288.

Barlow, a redshirt junior at the University of Illinois, is the southernmost winner of in the championship’s 78-year history. He hails from Percy, Ill., with a population less than 1,000 located an hour and a half southeast of St. Louis.

“It is great to bring it (the trophy) back to southern Illinois,” Barlow added. “We have great players down there, we just don’t always show it up here in our one shot.”

Defending champion Ravi Patel (Naperville) shot 79-80 on Thursday to finish in a tie for 24th with a 303, while 2008 Illinois Open winner Joe Emerich (Palatine) finished in 26th.

The top 15 players and ties in the championship are exempt from qualifying for the 2009 Illinois State Amateur Championship, to be held Aug. 11-13, at Bloomington Country Club.

--Courtesy CDGA

ABOUT THE Illinois State Amateur

Must be a resident of the state of Illinois and advance through an 18-hole qualifier prior to the event. Format is 72-holes of stroke play over three days. The low 35 after round 2 will advance to the 36-hole final day.

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