- Indiana Golf Association photo
Brutal conditions over a four-day, three-round stretch at Purgatory Golf Club in Noblesville made for an interesting week at the 119th Indiana Amateur Championship. Due to heavy rainfall up to one inch, the 72-hole tournament was shortened to 54 holes, with players completing their third and final rounds today.
Heading into final round, Ben Hoagland, Evansville, led the field at 5-under-par – but the leaderboard was crowded with five players trailing by one shot.
The lead group on day three consisted of Hoagland, Austin Vukovits, Fishers, and Luke Kelly, Brownsburg. Playing one group ahead was Joe Weiler, Bloomington, who was making moves and climbing up the leaderboard. Also rising to the top was Jack Sparrow, Floyd Knobs.
After completing roughly eight holes yesterday, torrential rain suspended play and everyone headed home with the plan to resume today. Due to extremely wet conditions, the tournament became a 54-hole event, and players had approximately nine holes to battle for the title.
When play was suspended, Weiler, the Purdue junior shared the lead at 7-under-par with recent Indiana University grad, Sparrow, and play resumed today with Weiler on the ninth tee.
Weiler’s Thursday got off to a quick start with a birdie on the par 5, 9th which quickly moved him into the lead at 8-under par. Despite high winds and a rain-soaked golf course, Weiler played the back nine in even par and stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead over Sparrow.
The par 5, 18th was playing straight down wind, making the par-5 play like a manageable par 4. One group ahead, Sparrow took advantage of the wind, and hit two solid shots, giving himself a realistic eagle look with 15 feet remaining.
Weiler witnessed Sparrow sink his 15-footer and take the lead, while watching from the fairway.
“I saw Jack on the green and I didn’t know if he was putting for birdie or eagle,” said Weiler. “When I saw his name go above mine on the leaderboard I knew I needed to make birdie to tie.”
Weiler hit an eight iron just over the back of the green and continued to get up-and-down and tap in for birdie to tie Sparrow and force a Purdue versus IU playoff.
“I was playing well this week and I knew where my ball was going,” said Weiler. “For that reason, I didn’t feel as nervous as I thought I might feel on 18.”
Weiler and Sparrow headed to the par-4, 1st hole for the playoff. After both players found the fairway, Sparrow’s second shot finished left of the green and Weiler had a five-foot birdie putt. Sparrow’s chip shot came to rest two feet from the hole setting up a putt for Weiler to win the 119th State Am. The putt caught the right lip and Weiler settled for a par and the two moved to the par-4, 2nd for their next playoff hole.
“I hit a really good putt, but I didn’t see it breaking to the right,” said Weiler. “I was upset I missed it, but I still felt confident heading to hole two.”
Two wayward tee shots on the 2nd hole found Sparrow and Weiler short of the green with their second shots. Sparrow found the bunker with his third and failed to get up-and-down out of the bunker. After Sparrow’s bogey putt missed on the left side, Weiler rolled in a 10-footer for par to claim the Indiana Amateur Championship and his first Indiana Golf title.
“This is a really big win for me,” said Weiler. “It’s good for my confidence. I had a good year at Purdue, but couldn’t put together a great tournament last season. This solidifies for me that I can finish a tournament and a round well.”
Kevin Stone, Carmel, and Mitch Rutledge, Fort Wayne, finished in a tie for third at 5-under-par.
ABOUT THE Indiana Amateur
District Qualifiers for non-exempt players.
18-hole qualifier, 72-hole championship. Players must
have an Indiana address and a handicap of no greater
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