Matthew Troutman (Kentucky Golf Association)
One of the craziest finishes in the 108-year history of the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Amateur took place Thursday at Indian Hills Country Club. After a day where six different players held a share of the lead at one point, it was Matthew Troutman
who departed victorious for his first career State Amateur triumph.
Last fall, Troutman won the KHSAA Boys State Championship just a few miles away at Bowling Green Country Club. Today, he wins the oldest championship in Kentucky golf with a total score of 205 (-8). Rounds of 69-67-69 got him to that mark and despite not leading once in the championship until the final hole of regulation, Troutman prevailed on the second hole of a four-person playoff against Evan Davis, Owen Stamper and Jay Kirchdorfer.
The journey to get to that point was a roller-coaster from the beginning. Stamper entered the final round as the leader by three strokes and was still up by that margin after the 4th hole. Up ahead of him, Campbell Kremer of the University of Kentucky and Robbie Bender from the University of Indiana were charging up the leaderboard. Kremer was able to catch Stamper and take the lead after a stretch of three birdies in five holes late in his front nine, giving him sole possession of the top spot entering the back nine.
The back nine was not as kind to Kremer, however, with four bogeys against no birdies from holes 10-18 thwarting his chances at the title. In stepped Jansen Preston and Davis, who each had stretches of birdies midway through the back nine to vault them into the top spot. Preston attained the lead by himself after the 16th hole, but out-of-bounds tee shots on both the 17th and 18th holes removed him from contention as well.
Meanwhile, Jay Kirchdorfer steadily plotted his way through the final five holes with birdies on the 14th and 18th against three pars. Doing so allowed him to post 205 (-8) in the clubhouse, topping the mark of 206 (-7) that Bender had set following his final round of 66 (-5).
Amidst all the rapid movement on the leaderboard, Troutman hovered steadily one or two shots back of the lead. The Oklahoma commit was two back with two holes to go entering the 17th, but a birdie from him alongside the eventual double bogey from Preston caused by his wayward drive suddenly vaulted Troutman into a share of the lead for the first time. Troutman had a look for birdie on the 18th that just slid by, but he tapped in for par which put him in the clubhouse at the same score as Kirchdorfer.
One group behind Troutman, Davis and Stamper entered the final hole at -8 and -7, respectively. With a number of scenarios in play, each player gave themselves attempts for birdie within twenty feet of the hole. Davis went first with the chance to win the championship outright but was unable to convert. Stamper followed and needed his putt to fall to join the group at -8, and he delivered with a putt in the heart of the hole. With a big fist pump to follow, the overnight leader had successfully worked his way back to first place and was the final puzzle piece in creating the first four-person playoff in the championship’s history.
The four players went back to the par-four 18th and on the first tee shot of the sudden-death playoff, Kirchdorfer’s tee shot went out-of-bounds. With the other three players all finding the fairway, Kirchdorfer had effectively been eliminated at that point. Troutman, Davis and Stamper all found the green with attempts at birdie, but none of them were able to hole those putts and tapped in for pars.
Those three went back to the 18th where Stamper and Davis were presented with trouble on the second extra hole. Stamper’s drive missed the fairway right and forced a punch-out short of the green while Davis’ approach shot from the fairway landed in the bunker short of the hole, short-siding himself. Troutman was able to get on the green with the putting surface open and had twenty feet for birdie, putting him in the driver’s seat. Davis and Stamper could not get their third shots inside of Troutman’s birdie putt, and when each of their subsequent par putts missed, all Troutman needed to do was two-putt for victory. He successfully did so, making him one of the youngest champions in event history at the age of 17.
“I think I had a special touch on the shoulder from God today,” Troutman said after being presented with the trophy. “I played well, but I wasn’t quite hitting the shots I needed for a lot of the day. I managed my misses and was consistently able to overcome the bogeys I made with some birdies. I was as many as four back today and really, I just kept getting one shot back at a time. I had a few breaks go my way with how some holes played out for the rest of the guys, but I just stayed calm and outlasted everyone by not messing up.
It hasn’t set in yet for me and it’s surreal, but I think about how J.M. Butler won last year and seeing him do that in-person. I remember thinking at Audubon last year, ‘I want to come back and do that.’ Three years ago at Country Club of Paducah I’m pretty sure I finished dead last of the people who made the cut in that tournament. I knew I’ve had the talent to win going back to that event, but today I proved to myself that I also have the mentality to get it done.”
With Troutman being the champion, Davis, Stamper and Kirchdorfer all share runner-up honors. Bender finished in solo fifth one stroke behind each of those players while Kremer and Preston finished in a tie for sixth, two shots out of the playoff.
ABOUT THE Kentucky Amateur
54-hole stroke play championship. Prizes will be
awarded in the
following categories: Section Medalist, Low Scorer in
each round, Low Junior, Low Senior, Low Public Links
contestant, runner-up and champion.
Entrants in all KGA tournaments shall be required to
have an active Handicap Index at a Kentucky Golf
Association Member Club at the time of entry and
meet the championship’s residency requirements.
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