Blake Micholas (Delaware G.A. photo)
For 69 holes, Blake Micholas was untouchable.
Sitting at 20 under in the middle of the fairway on the 70th hole (No. 16, par 4, 401 yards), he had a hand and four fingers on the trophy with a four-shot lead.
When he walked off the 72nd green, there was a real possibility that he wouldn’t touch the trophy at all.
He played the last three holes in 2 over while Day Two co-leader Jack Irons played them in 2 under, putting them in a three-hole aggregate playoff for the hardware. He lipped out a 4-footer to win.
“That 4-footer on the last to win is what any golfer asks for,” Micholas said. “I gave myself that chance and I didn’t capitalize. But thankfully, I got a great draw on the playoff holes. Nos. 3 (par 4, 393 yards), 4 (par 3, 166 yards) and 5 (par 5, 600 yards) were probably the best three holes I played all week.”
Micholas remained resolute and calm to claim the 72nd Delaware Amateur at Wild Quail (par 72, 6,640 yards) in a four-hole playoff over Irons. They both finished at 18 under in regulation.
“I didn’t think I had a chance until No. 17,” Irons, of Little Mill Country Club, said. “I think getting into a playoff felt like a bonus. I felt like it was his tournament all day, especially on the second 18. He made a couple errors, I did my thing and made some birdies coming in. It was fun. Even getting into a playoff was special.”
After the three-hole aggregate (Nos. 3, 4 and 5) they were still deadlocked. Both took 11 strokes to finish the three holes. No bogeys were made in the twosome. Micholas birdied No. 4 and Irons birdied No. 5.
Micholas sealed the deal with a par on No. 3 (fourth playoff hole) after Irons made bogey. Irons hit it left and was blocked out by trees and couldn’t save par from the fescue.
“For whatever reason that hole didn’t set up well for me the whole tournament,” Irons, 21, of Naples, Fla., who summers in Medford Lakes, N.J., said. “I made a good swing. The club just closed a little and it went straight. Can’t go left there. I took a chance from the left trees and it didn’t pay off.
“This was the most fun I have had on a golf course in my life. Having a chance to win a tournament is why you work hard and you practice. I am not disappointed at all. I shot 18 under and gave myself a chance to win when I didn’t think I had one.”
Micholas dead-handed a 52-degree wedge from 107 yards to eight feet. When Irons missed his 30-footer for par, all he needed was two putts.
In regulation, Micholas played those three holes in 6 under. If you include the playoff, he played them in 7 under. It won him the tournament.
Micholas was a late bloomer in golf as a sophomore at the Bullis School in Potomac, Md. In the remaining years of high school, he was fed up with the game. He took a break from golf once he enrolled at the University of Mississippi.
“My junior year at Ole Miss I started playing again,” Micholas said. “I was so tired of competitive golf before college and I didn’t know why I was playing. When I started to see how good I was at playing stress-free golf, that changed my way of thinking about competitive golf.”
Refreshed and rejuvenated, Micholas finished 10th last year at Bayside Resort Golf Club. He finished T7 in 2018 at Odessa National Golf Club.
“The years I took off from golf made me learn to love the game again,” Micholas said. “Then I started to play well and realized how much fun it is to compete and beat people.”
For the entirety of the 36-hole final day, Micholas’ father Mike was on the bag. 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have seen him watching his son. Not because he didn’t want to.
“It is nice having him on the bag,” Micholas said. “When I was a kid, I wouldn’t let him watch me play at all. Playing in Junior events I couldn’t stand seeing him out there. I have grown up a lot.”
When Micholas reached 20 under, he tied the lowest mark anyone has reached in tournament history. In 2013, Chris Hickman finished at 20 under and lapped the field by 21 at Odessa National.
As Micholas left Wild Quail after 76 holes of golf, he realized he’s heading back to work tomorrow at his public accounting firm. He won’t return empty-handed.
“It means everything,” Micholas said. “It is my first amateur win and I couldn’t be prouder. I wish I finished stronger but I have been working hard to try to get better and it is good to see it paying off. I learned how much fight I have and my will to battle. It was definitely worth the PTO.”
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