Jake Erickson (CDGA photo)
Heading into Wednesday's 5th CDGA Mid-Amateur Championship final at Northmoor Country Club, Jake Erickson (Springfield / Panther Creek CC) reflected on his previous-best results in CDGA-administered championships. The 28-year-old Springfield native has finished runner-up in both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championships.
Following the final match, however, Erickson's path changed course with a 3-and-2 defeat of Zach Jecklin (Chicago / Butterfield CC). Twice the bridesmaid, now the bride.
“I really wanted to close the door today and get my first win in a CDGA event,” said Erickson. “I was really happy to do that. It was a really great win for me beating a lot of quality guys.”
The final began on a wet Northmoor track that had seen close to three-quarters of an inch of rain overnight. Although conditions were soggy, Erickson's and Jecklin's games proved to be pristine out of the gate. The two combined for four birdies in the match's opening three holes, capped off by Erickson's chip-in three on the par-4 third.
Erickson would then move his advantage to 2-up with a lengthy birdie putt on No. 5, setting the scene for the day with a hot putter and keen sense of lag-putting, following accuracy off the tee. With driver in hand, Erickson consistently played his second shots from close to 15 yards ahead of Jecklin.
“It started with my driver, I was in a groove with my driver all week,” said Erickson. “That helps so much to get into position and having wedges in your hands. I was able to get ahead early, get some birdies and the lead, and I like to play with a lead. I feel confident about making them come back to me.”
One lapse of the driver came on the par-4 ninth, in which Erickson blasted his tee shot past his targeted landing area into a fairway bunker. Holding a 1-up lead at the time, he played his approach into the greenside rough. Showing off a short game that was clutch all week, Erickson got up-and-down to maintain his advantage heading to the back nine and a string of holes that he felt confident in.
“That kind of fueled me on the back,” said Erickson of the par save on nine. “I had done well on 10, 11 and 12 in my other matches. I said, ‘Alright, let's go birdie, birdie and keep that going.' I was able to do that.”
Jecklin was able to capitalize on opportunities on Nos. 13 and 14, with a two-putt par and birdie, respectively. Erickson, who never trailed at any point in his matches this week, was able to tie No. 15 with Jecklin with a par. Following an errant tee shot by Jecklin on the par-3 16th, he sealed the deal for the victory in his first appearance in the event, a championship he highlighted as suiting his style of play.
En route to the final match, Erickson bettered Nick Feinberg, 3 and 2, in the round of 16 before ousting 2017 CDGA Mid-Amateur Champion Chadd Slutzky in the quarterfinals, 2 and 1. Awaiting him in the semifinal was 2018 CDGA Senior Player of the Year, Tim Sheppard, fresh off his victory in last week's CDGA Senior Amateur Championship. Erickson was able to outmaneuver the veteran with a 4-and-3 victory to earn his place in the final.
“You don't get a lot of chances to play match play, that's what makes this event so cool,” Erickson reflected. “I felt like, on this course, if I drove it well, I could put myself in position to make a lot of birdies, which in match is play is huge. You never know what can happen in match play and I was just happy to close it out there on 16 and get the win.”View results for Chicago Mid-Amateur
ABOUT THE Chicago Mid-Amateur
Open to any CDGA member age 25 or older, the
Mid-Am features an 18-hole stroke play round to
determine a 16-player match play bracket.
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