Connor McNeely (Indiana Golf photo)
After three rounds and two weather delays, the 123rd Indiana State Amateur Championship taking place at the Pfau Course at Indiana University has concluded with University of Cincinnati’s Connor McNeely pulling his first win.
McNeely finished the event with rounds of 67,71, and 73 keeping a focus on his own game and a positive mindset throughout the entire competition. After the conclusion of day two, McNeely mentioned that his biggest focus going into the final round would be “playing his own game and staying in his lane”. This stable mindset was easy to see after an unfortunate double on the back nine today, followed by an immediate and necessary birdie on the next hole.
“I was playing fine up until eleven and was 1-over and needed to be right around even and that double threw me off a bit. It fired me up just a touch and I knew I needed to birdie one of the next two holes. After that I had a lot more confidence and started hitting better shots. I made great pars and that’s all I really needed to do” said McNeely.
Connor MdNeely (IGA photo)
McNeely has dressed himself with accomplishments in our Indiana Junior Golf Program, AJGA and Golfweek tournaments and had some impressive stats his freshman year at Butler University.
“It’s definitely my biggest win so far and it’s a boost for my confidence. I have always thought I could win a big tournament like this and now I have, so I think it’s only up from here” said McNeely.
McNeely’s transfer to the University of Cincinnati begins this August and he is looking to make the lineup and win some big events right at the start.
Our runner-up who pushed himself into contention early on in the final round is Western Kentucky University’s Nic Hofman, who finished with rounds of 69, 72, 72.
“The Pfau Course is very difficult and you definitely have to keep it in play so that was the biggest thing. I drove it great pretty much all week and had some tough holes on the back but that’s golf. It’s a great testament to the golf course and it was a lot of fun playing out there and competing” said Hofman.
Hofman’s next move is heading back down to Kentucky for the Southern Amateur Qualifier and will also be competing at our Indiana Open beginning July 11th. He added “You always have to keep learning and getting better. Just being in contention and kind of handling those nerves a bit more, hitting quality shots and being in the moment is what I will take from this."
Two Division I golfers are neck and neck after two completed rounds in the 123rd Indiana State Amateur taking place at the Pfau Course at Indiana University.
Among these two competitors is University of Cincinnati’s Connor McNeely, sitting 4-under (67,71) and 22’ defending State Am champion and Purdue University Junior Luke Prall who closed out 3-under (68,71). McNeely is looking for his first State Amateur win but is no stranger to being a highly decorated player. He played his freshmen year at Butler University where he was one of two Bulldogs to play in all 11 events in addition to the BIG EAST Match Play, where he scored an average of 73.2 and placed second on the team and fifth overall.
Prior to his first year as a collegiate golfer, McNeely closed out 2021 with a win at the Golfweek Junior Tour Event at Chatham Hills, placed third at the Indiana Junior Golf Boys State, sixth at the AJGA Circle K Junior Championship, and earned medalist honors in two regular season events as well as the regional championship, with his team finishing runner-up in the state finals. McNeely transferred to the University of Cincinnati ahead of the 2023-24 season and will have three years of eligibility with the Bearcats.
“I think the course was a lot more challenging today and the pin locations were a little more difficult, a bit tucked. It was a lot windier towards the start of my round and the back nine were longer and playing tough. I could have shot a few lower today but I made some good putts, missed some bad putts, but it all evened out” said McNeely.
When asked what part of his play stood out the most, McNeely added “ I stayed in it mentally, played smart, made sure I didn’t do anything dumb. Off the tee was a little bit wild but I got it back into play, made some putts, saved par, and I’m happy about it.”
Prall appeared in seven events and posted a 75.35 stroke average in 2022-2023 and had a breakout season the year prior, finishing tied-22nd at the Marquette Intercollegiate, 29th at the Calusa Cup, winning the Indiana State Amateur, and being named to the Big Ten’s All-Academic Team.
“I think out here, putting is so key. If I can putt good tomorrow, I think I’ll have a good chance. Obviously keeping it in play is pretty important just because the fairways can be narrow and the rough can be pretty penal” said Prall.
Prall added “I made a double on hole 12 and that kind of set me back but I feel like I played pretty well over the two days.”
McNeely is going into the final round with Prall on his heels but is just focusing on his performance for the final round.
“Tomorrow I’m going to play my own game. Stay in my own lane and just do what I’ve been doing the past two days” said McNeely.
Trailing closely behind McNeely and Prall are two Mid Amateur Champions and USGA Four Ball partners, Kenny Cook (3rd) and Sean Rowen (T4). Rowen secured the 2015 State Amatuer title and Cook is looking for his first win. Joining Cook tied for fourth is Lafayette’s Nic Hoffman who is also looking for his first Indiana State Am victory.
*The cut was made to the low 60 scores and ties with 69 players advancing to the final round.