Illinois Amateur: Hopfinger near perfect in win

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (Aug. 11, 2011) -- Brad Hopfinger’s (Lake Forest) day on Thursday at Glen Oak Country Club could not have been much better. In 36 holes, he carded only two bogies, which coupled with 11 birdies, put a career-low 64 and 69 on the scoreboard, handing him the Louis L. Emmerson Trophy as the winner of the 81st Illinois State Amateur Championship by four strokes. After the event, Hopfinger announced he will turn pro on Monday, competing in the Nationwide Tour’s Monday qualifier in Lawrence, Kan.

“The whole first round I was playing with Todd (Mitchell) and was just trying to catch him,” Hopfinger stated, after entering the final day two shots back. “He was playing really well and I was doing everything I could to catch him. Once I had the lead, I knew I just had to play solid the rest of the way.”

Hopfinger finished at -12 for the 72-hole event. Joining the recent University of Iowa graduate under par was fellow teammate and senior Hawkeye Chris Brant (Edwardsville). Brant finished Thursday with rounds of 67 and 69 to finish at -8. While Hopfinger parred his entire back nine in the fourth round, Brant carded a pair of birdies on #10 and #11 to close within one stroke, but was undone by a bogey on the par-4 13th hole and double bogey on the par-3 16th.

“I felt I had a shot until 16,” Brant said. “I hit a really poor golf shot and it cost me. You just can’t miss to the right of that green and I did.”

Andy Mickelson (Lockport) and Dan Stringfellow (Roselle) completed the tournament at even-par 284 to tie for third, while John Ehrgott (Peoria) finished fifth at 1-over par 285.

Second round leader and two-time champion Todd Mitchell (Bloomington) shot 68 in the third round and remained in contention throughout the fourth round, appearing to finish in third place after signing for a 73 on his scorecard. After the score was posted, Mitchell requested to review his scorecard and realized the card had a birdie “4” for the fifth hole, while he had scored par. Mitchell reported the error and was disqualified from the event under Rule 6-6d. Rule 6-6d dictates: “The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his scorecard. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified.”

Hopfinger becomes the second consecutive member of the University of Iowa golf team to be victorious at the Illinois State Amateur Championship, following in teammate Vince India’s footsteps, and the fifth straight member of a Big Ten Conference golf program to win (University of Illinois’ Zach Barlow and Luke Guthrie in 2008 and 2009 and Northwestern University’s Ravi Patel in 2007).

“I think it says a lot about our team that we’ve had out there,” Hopfinger said of the 1-2 finish and back-to-back Hawkeye victories. “We finished 10th at the NCAA Championships and didn’t have our best week there. It says a lot about the quality of golf out at Iowa.”

The low 15 players and ties from this event earned the right to compete in the 82nd Illinois State Amateur Championship, Aug. 7-9 at The Links at Kokopelli in Marion, Ill.

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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