Austin Gutgsell (Kentucky Golf Association photo)
“Gutsy” is an easy word to label on Austin Gutgsell given it and his last name both start with the same three letters, but his final round performance in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Mid-Am was just that – gutsy.
Entering the second and final day at Big Spring Country Club – Harmony Landing Course, Gutgsell responded to pressure and adversity thrown at him throughout the day to win the championship for the first time in his career.
For the second straight day, holes 1-6 provided a tough start for the Louisiana native who played college golf for the LSU Tigers. Gutgsell played those holes in +2 on Wednesday which dropped him out of the lead. Matt Epperson, the winner of this event in 2019, took the lead simultaneously as he played that same six-hole stretch in -3. As the day progressed, the tournament slowly evolved into a two-horse race between those two competitors.
With Gutgsell playing in the final group and Epperson in the group ahead, they found themselves sharing the lead at -4 while Gutgsell stood on the 15th tee and Epperson set to take on the 16th. Epperson was dealt a bogey on the par three, giving Gutgsell the solo lead as he took on the final three holes. After narrow birdie misses from Epperson on both the 17th and 18th greens, Gutgsell sank a birdie putt on the 17th from fifteen feet away to bump his lead from one stroke to two strokes heading into the final hole.
Needing bogey to win, Gutgsell ensured it never came close to getting to that point as a perfect tee shot and a perfect approach shot set up a ten-foot birdie putt to close, which he holed, securing Gutgsell with a three-stroke margin of victory and a winning total of 136 (-6).
“Welcome to my world of golf,” said Gutgsell after the tournament, as it relates to his slow starts preceding big finishes. “Normally I’m a slow starter and then I turn it on when my back is against the wall. I’d like to start faster more often, but at least when you finish well, dinner tastes better. But this was a great tournament where it seemed like the players who were supposed to play well did play well. I knew I was going to have to push the pedal to the metal to hang on to my lead today and that it wouldn’t be a cakewalk. I have a bunch of friends who have won this tournament and ever since I moved (to Kentucky) six years ago, I’ve wanted to win a meaningful Kentucky championship to have some bragging right of my own, and I do now.”
Gutgsell was also the low man on the net leaderboard for the Open Division, but that title is shifted to the second-place player following his gross victory. As a result, Adam Warren takes the honor after a total score of 140 (-2). That won by one stroke over Glenn Vicary.
Marshall Butler turned in the only under-par score on Wednesday from the Senior Division which led to him being its gross champion. A score of 70 (-1) in the final round led to a three-stroke victory over P.J. McDougal. Donald Kohler took the net trophy by two shots over Scott King.
Greg Engle prevailed in the Super Senior Division, capping off a phenomenal autumn for the Lexington product. He shot 70 (-1) on Wednesday which helped him win by five strokes over David Combs. Charles Verrette claimed the net title by three shots.View results for Kentucky Mid-Amateur
ABOUT THE Kentucky Mid-Amateur
36-hole stroke play championship with the following
divisions: Open (ages 25+), Mid-Senior (40-49),
Senior (50-59), and Masters (60+). Open division is
gross scoring only, while the other divisions are
gross and net.
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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