89th Illinois State Amateur Championship July 16-18 • Cantigny Golf (Wheaton) Crystal Lake's Ethan Farnam overcame a four-shot deficit entering the final round to capture the Louis L. Emmerson Trophy
Day Three: Thursday, July 18
FARNAM OVERTAKES PERKINS IN FINAL ROUND TO EARN STATE AM GLORY
WHEATON, Ill. – The number 13 is often synonymous with bad luck and unfortunate occurrences. Not anymore for Ethan Farnam.
A 70-foot birdie putt from Farnam (Crystal Lake / Crystal Lake CC), coupled with a double bogey from front-runner David Perkins (East Peoria / Quail Meadows GC), on Cantigny Golf's par-3 13th hole propelled the Saint Mary's College rising junior to victory in the 89th Illinois State Amateur Championship on Thursday. Farnam entered the final round of the weather-shortened 54-hole event four strokes back of Perkins, before carding a Thursday-best 3-under 69 to claim the title by two strokes at an 8-under-par total of 208.
“It feels amazing to finally be up on top the leaderboard again,” said Farnam, who also won the Illinois State Junior Amateur Championship in 2015.
Rounds of 69 and 70 on Tuesday and Wednesday put Farnam in the final grouping with Perkins, an Illinois State University rising senior who had not recorded a bogey through two rounds of 68 and 67 to build his advantage. Following a decision made Wednesday night to shorten the normal 36-hole finale to 18 due to an Excessive Heat Warning, the 41 players making the cut were greeted by a 5-hour and 30-minute weather delay Thursday morning. Finally teeing off at 2 p.m., it initially looked like more of the same consistent golf for Perkins, who kept Farnam at arm's length by extending his bogeyless streak to 41 and building a six-stroke edge.
“He takes a six-stroke lead and right there I'm just like, ‘Ick. This is going to be tough,' ” Farnam recalled. “He's going to either have to give me something or I'm going to have to really give him something, and kind of both things happened.”
The tide began to turn on the par-3 eighth, where Farnam stuck a 6-iron tight and converted the birdie, which, coupled with a Perkins bogey, put him within three strokes. Farnam got one closer by rolling in a birdie putt on the par-5 11th after striking a wedge from 75 yards to two feet. Both players narrowly missed birdie opportunities on No. 12 before the championship-altering 13th.
Playing in to a steady 20-mile-per-hour wind after two still days, Farnam's tee shot settled on the back edge of the green, while Perkins' ended up in the bunker short and right. Perkins' sand shot flew over the green before his comeback chip did not reach the putting surface. Meanwhile, Farnam was lining up his putt toward the front hole location, an opportunity he would convert for what he calls “one of the longest putts I've ever made in competition.” Perkins salvaged a double bogey, but suddenly found himself trailing for the first time since Tuesday
“To do it right on the big stage and take the lead on that putt, that was nuts,” Farnam said.
“I just kind of struggled on that hole,” Perkins said of the 13th. “Watching him throw a 70-footer in, that was … I was thinking, ‘Ok, if I can get out of the worst hole of the day and still be even, totally got a big chance.' Hats off to him. It was definitely a turning hole for him.”
Farnam extended his advantage with another par-5 birdie on No. 14, striking his third from 135 yards to three feet and converting the birdie opportunity. The duo matched pars the rest of the way in, with a Championship-ending 10-footer on No. 18 eliciting a fist-pump from an emotional Farnam.
“To come out and win this just completely makes up for that,” said Farnam, referring to a difficult stretch between leaving the Northwestern men's golf team and enrolling at Saint Mary's during which he considered giving up the game. “It's a great feeling.”
Perkins' 6-under total was good enough for a tie for second with Jordan Less (Elmhurst / Oak Brook GC), who defeated Perkins in last month's 100th CDGA Amateur Championship final match at Glen View Club. Springfield native Jake Erickson (Springfield / Panther Creek CC) and incoming Illinois State University freshman Parker Wisdom (Bloomington / Bloomington CC) rounded out the top-five at 4-under. The low 20 and ties all earned exemptions in to next year's Illinois State Amateur Championship, which will be contested at North Barrington's The Club a
QUOTES OF NOTE
Ethan Farnam (champion) on how the victory will propel him moving forward…
“It's definitely a large spring board. I've been trying to tell myself that I've been playing good and use that as my spring board, but to finally get on top of the leaderboard at the end of the tournament, I can pull from this and know I got it in the tank, I know what I'm doing and I can do it.”
David Perkins (T2) on his mindset going into the final day with a lead…
“It's a learning experience. I've had a few of those already. I think I caught myself kind of trying to protect that lead too much and I should have just played more golf. I'm just going to treat it as a learning experience. He was playing well; I made a couple mistakes and he took advantage of it.”
Jordan Less (T2) on surging to a second-place finish with four-straight birdies on the back nine…
“It was a lot of fun on the back nine. Front nine, course was pretty wet, winds were high, so it was a tough scoring day. Once the winds calmed down a bit and we had a feel for what it was doing, how to play yardages into the wind and downwind, it got a lot more comfortable. We got in to some good numbers on the back nine and went right at them.”
Parker Wisdom (T4) on what he learned from this State Am experience before entering his freshman season at ISU…
“I can definitely compete, I know that. I'm just going to keep trying to get better and better. Just to stick with it the whole time. Don't give up, just keep pushing and grinding to the end.”
Ethan Farnam was the only player in the field to card three under-par rounds (69-70-69). He also notched just two bogeys throughout the course of the Championship.
Jordan Less' second-place finish in the State Am is the best showing in the event by the reigning CDGA Amateur champion since Joel Hirsch won both titles in 1988. Less won the 2019 CDGA Am in June by defeating David Perkins in 37 holes at Glen View Club.
David Perkins did not record a bogey on a par 5 throughout the course of the tournament.
Jake Erickson notched a 1-under 71 to finish tied for fourth at 4-under overall. Erickson has now finished in the top-12 of this event in five of the previous seven iterations.
Parker Wisdom's 1-over 73 was good enough to finish tied for fourth at 4-under overall. After carding a 40 on the front nine Thursday, Wisdom responded with his best nine of the championship, posting a 33 down the stretch.
This year's State Am is just the third time the event has been shortened to 54 holes since the format was switched from match play to stroke play in 1963. Ravi Patel emerged victorious at Ironhorse Golf Club in Tuscola in 2007, while Patrick Flavin claimed the title at Calumet Country Club in 2017.
The par-5 14th statistically played as the easiest scoring hole throughout the tournament, featuring a scoring average of 4.774. The most-difficult was the par-4 18th, as competitors averaged 4.497 on the water-lined finisher.
The State Am field totaled eight eagles throughout the week,half of which came on par 4s.
Day Two: Wednesday, July 17
PERKINS CONTINUES HOT STREAK, BUILDS FOUR-STROKE ILLINOIS STATE AM LEAD
WHEATON, Ill. – Following his second round in the 89th Illinois State Amateur Championship at Cantigny Golf on Wednesday, David Perkins (Bloomington / Quail Meadows GC) felt there was room for improvement with his putting.
“The putter is kind of cold, surprisingly,” said Perkins, the 2018 CDGA Amateur champion. “They'll come. I'm just waiting to roll some more putts in.”
His putting might have been cold, but his scorecard was red hot.
Perkins followed up 4-under-par 68 on Tuesday with a 5-under-par 67 to take a commanding 4-shot lead at 9-under overall, ahead of a triumvirate of Ethan Farnam (Crystal Lake / Crystal Lake CC), Parker Wisdom (Bloomington / Bloomington CC) and Nick Tenuta (Mount Prospect / Mount Prospect GC).
“It doesn't surprise me; obviously I wasn't expecting to come out and shoot 9-under,” said Perkins. “But I knew if I played well, rolled some putts in, I could put a number like that out there. It's out there: the winds are low, the course is soft.”
As the mercury rose, Perkins' scores dropped. Teeing off in the morning wave, the rising senior at Illinois State University captained a consistent ship on the front nine, including a lone birdie on the par-4 5th. The runner-up in last month's CDGA Amateur Championship credited a confidence in his game and keeping a level head as fuel for a charge after the turn.
“Coming off the front, I think I hit every green,” said Perkins. “Missed a couple of putts, but was playing really strong and just trusted what I was doing and that they would come. It's hard to not get frustrated because I'm playing really, really well. 1 under was good, but I felt like it could be a lot better.”
Better it was.
A red number on the par-4 10th got the momentum going. He added another birdie on the par-3 13th after knocking his tee shot to 4 feet and dropping the putt. Then came the par-5 14th, and after placing his second shot on the green, Perkins drained a 40-foot bomb for the eagle. Even-par scores heading in secured the second-straight bogey-free round for Perkins as the afternoon wave teed off.
“I've only made one bad swing and still made par,” said Perkins. “It's just been the way I've been hitting it; the iron game is really good. I kind of just kept my head down and focused on what I was doing.”
Those consecutive clean cards produced a stretch of competitive golf that hasn't seen a bogey made since the 37th hole of the CDGA Amateur Championship last month. Even with a CDGA-administered championship victory on his resume, he understands the difficulty of this successful string of play against the stature of the field that comes with an Illinois State Amateur.
“It's definitely the best stretch I've ever had,” said Perkins. “To do it here, it means a lot.”
Also playing in the morning wave, Farnam, a rising junior at Saint Mary's College, notched two birdies to keep within striking distance of the leader after his first round of 2-under-par 70. The southpaw utilized a keen sense of lag-putting and a steady flatstick to card his own clean card.
“A lot of it's due to the putter,” commented Farnam. “I've got to attribute a lot of my success to my speed control. Every time I get out of position, I'd have a lag-putt length, I seemed to have a tap-in par. It makes it a lot less stressful when your chips and your putts are three feet by or three feet short and that's the key for me this week.”
Five red numbers to just two bogeys aided Wisdom in the morning, as well, as he finished the round with a 3-under 69. The incoming Illinois State Redbird was able to best his first-round score by a shot by getting up and down when the situation called for it.
“I'm getting up and down when I need to,” said Wisdom. “I had one bogey too, but when I missed the green, I had to chip out and didn't get up and down. But it was close. If I just make my putts, it'll be good.”
Tying for the low round of the day, with Perkins and 2019 CDGA Amateur champion Jordan Less (Elmhurst / Oak Brook GC), Tenuta carded a 5-under-par 67 to vault into contention following his opening-round even-par 72. Playing in the afternoon wave, Tenuta kept an eye on the leaderboard and knew a hot start was required to remain in the picture.
“I was putting it beautifully, I was rolling it end over end,” said Tenuta, a rising junior at the University of Louisville. “I was also just hitting fairways, not making mistakes, which is easy to do out here off the tee. I was giving myself a look at every green, which is great.”
The cut line fell at 3-over-par 147, with 41 players advancing past the second round. Thursday's previously scheduled 36-hole final will be reduced to 18 holes after an excessive heat warning was issued for the Chicagoland area ahead of forecasted heat indexes well above the century mark on Thursday afternoon.
Tee times start at 7:30 in threesomes off of both tees, with Perkins slated to start his round at 8:30 a.m. on No. 1.
QUOTES OF NOTE:
Jordan Less, who tied for low-round of the day with a 5-under-par 67, on what he worked on Tuesday night following his 1-over-par 73 opening round…
“My putter was a little off yesterday, so I went home and did some metronome beats with it, to get back in rhythm and it was working today.”
Jackson Bussell (Lincolnshire / Pine Meadow), on his thoughts of Cantigny following his second round…
“I've actually only played here once, or twice, before. I love the layout, it's not too easy for a State Am. And I love the greens here, they're rolling really well.”
Ethan Farnam, on where he stands heading into the third round…
“I feel a little bit lucky to be in second right now, just with how the scoring was yesterday and then the conditions today. I just felt like I wasn't sure on my distances. Going into tomorrow, I just have to commit to my distances and give myself some better birdie looks.”
David Perkins, on his current stretch of bogey-free golf…
“With how I'm hitting it, I might not make any bogeys. We'll see.”
This year's State Am will be just the third time the event has been shortened to 54 holes since the format was switched from match play to stroke play in 1963. Ravi Patel emerged victorious at Ironhorse Golf Club in Tuscola in 2007, while Patrick Flavin claimed the title at Calumet Country Club in 2017.
David Perkins, the 2018 CDGA Amateur champion, is leads by four strokes entering Thursday's final round. Only 11 individuals have won both the Illinois State Amateur Championship and CDGA Amateur, the most-recent being Illinois Golf Hall of Famer Joel Hirsch (State Am in 1988 and 1989, CDGA Am in 1988 and 1998).
Springfield native Jake Erickson fired a 4-under 68 on Wednesday and will enter Thursday's final round tied for eighth at 3-under overall. He has finished in the top-12 of this event in four of the previous six iterations.
In total, 20 players enter Thursday's final round under par for the Championship. Just three players finished in red numbers last year at Bloomington Country Club.
Of the players to make the cut, Jack Vercautren and Zach Williams were able to better their first-round scores by six shots each Wednesday, the greatest improvement of the 41 players.
The par-5 14th statistically played as the easiest scoring hole in the second round, featuring a scoring average of 4.802. The hole also featured three eagles throughout the day, the only on the course, by David Perkins, Orion Yamat and Timothy Lim.
The par-4 6th statistically played as the hardest scoring hole in the second round, featuring a scoring average of 4.488. 43 bogeys were recorded on the hole, the most for any on the track.
Day One: Tuesday, July 16
TRIO SITS ATOP ILLINOIS STATE AMATEUR LEADERBOARD FOLLOWING OPENING ROUND
WHEATON, Ill. - In what is a packed leaderboard following the first day of the 89th Illinois State Amateur Championship Tuesday at Cantigny Golf, a pair of young guns and a pesky veteran stand at the top following opening-round 4-under 68s.
David Perkins (East Peoria / Quail Meadows GC) and Orion Yamat (Niles / The Preserve at Oak Meadows) each played golf consistently throughout the spring due to their collegiate seasons at Illinois State University and Loyola University, respectively. John Wright (Aurora / Oak Brook GC), however, at age 51 has his college years behind him and looks to compete with a field that features 51 players at age 20 or younger.
“Any time I can compete against the top young guys in college, it's awesome,” said Wright following his opening round 4-under 68.
Wright began his day on the Lakeside Course, which acted as the back nine for the event, and played the first four holes at a 1-over par clip. After those first holes, something seemed to click for Wright as he strung together four straight birdies on Hole Nos. 14 through 17 to position himself in a tie with the morning leaders before even making the turn.
A pair of birdies and a lone bogey on his back nine placed Wright in a tie for the lead with two of those top young players he referred to.
“Everything worked well,” mentioned Wright. “I was able to get it in the fairway, which had been a problem in my last few competitive rounds. My irons were solid and I just hit a lot of really good putts.”
Perkins, the first of the two collegiate golfers to finish, took advantage of the low wind and pristine shape of the course following some afternoon rain to post his leading score.
“I didn't really miss many shots; hit a lot of greens and a lot of fairways,” stated the rising senior at Illinois State University. “With how the day was with no wind, I knew anything around par or under par was going to put me in a good spot.”
With a birdie on his very first hole of the day, the 2018 CDGA Amateur champion found himself under par instantly and never looked back. A second birdie on his opening nine at the par-5 14th hole and a clean scorecard elsewhere turned Perkins at 2-under.
Another pair of birdies on his second nine brought Perkins to the scorer's table with a bogey-free round atop the remainder of the field.
Yamat, who was the youngest competitor in the field when the State Am was last played at Cantigny in 2014, made birdie on his second- to-last hole to threaten for the lowest round of the day before conceding the stroke on his 18th hole to also finish with a 4-under-par round.
“My game has changed tremendously,” the recent graduate of Loyola University said when asked how his game compared to when he played in the 2014 rendition of the event. “I remember when I played here before, I would be coming in with much longer clubs and had to hit driver all over the place.”
“It's definitely great to come back here. It's a nice full-circle type of thing.”
Eighteen golfers fired opening round scores at under par including Charlie Nikitas (Glenview / Glenview Park GC), Rob Wuethrich (Bloomington / Crestwicke CC), Logan Stauffer (Bloomington / Ironwood GC) and Ethan Farnam (Crystal Lake / Crystal Lake CC), who are all in a tie for fourth place at 3-under.
Tim Sheppard (East Peoria / Pekin Park District), current owner of all three CDGA-administered senior championships, came in under par with a first round 71. Quinlan Prchal (Glenview / The Glen Club), the lone past champion in the field, completed his first round with a 2-over 74.
The event continues on Wednesday with another 18-hole round. The low 35 and ties following the second round will advance to Thursday's 36-hole finale.
QUOTES OF NOTE
Charlie Nikitas, 69 (-3), on what he learned by leading after day one last year…
“Being under the gun last year was great. You just have to rack up those experiences down the stretch and having a chance to win. This is my favorite tournament of the summer. It's one that I've had buddies win, so I would like to follow in those guys' footsteps and hold the trophy in the end.”
Rob Wuethrich, 69 (-3), on what the atmosphere was like in his grouping with Nikitas and Sheppard…
“It's great watching good shot after good shot. There were a lot of holes today that we were hitting three drives in the fairway and three shots onto the green for three looks at birdie.”
Logan Stauffer, 69 (-3), on how to maneuver through a 72-hole tournament…
“We have a lot of golf left to play so just trying to take it day-by-day and shot-by-shot and see what happens at the end of the four rounds. If I play my game, I can compete with these guys and, after winning the [Illinois State] Mid-Am, I proved that to myself.”
John Wright, 68 (-4), on how his experience with Cantigny helped in his opening round…
“I love this course. I've played here a bunch. I know the greens well and I know the lines to take off the tee.”
The last mid-amateur player (age 25 and up) to win the Illinois State Amateur Championship was Todd Mitchell in 2003. John Wright, 51, sits tied for first following an opening-round 68.
David Perkins, the 2018 CDGA Amateur champion, is tied for the lead following Tuesday's opening-round 68. Only nine individuals have won both the Illinois State Amateur Championship and CDGA Amateur, the most-recent being Illinois Golf Hall of Famer Joel Hirsch (State Am in 1988 and 1989, CDGA Am in 1988 and 1998).
Orion Yamat, making his third Illinois State Amateur Championship appearance, is tied for the lead after an opening-round 68. His lowest round tallied in a previous State Am was 74 as a 17-year-old at Cantigny in 2014.
A total of 18 golfers carded a red number in the opening round. Only three players finished last year's State Amateur at Bloomington Country Club under par.
State Am competitors tallied three eagles on the first day of competition. Ricky Leffingwell and Michael Fowler carded 2s on the par-4 10th, while Paul Dagys notched a 3 on the par-5 14th.
The par-5 14th statistically played as the easiest hole in the opening round, with players averaging 4.762 while totaling 46 birdies and one eagle. The most difficult scoring hole was the water-lined par-4 18th. The field averaged a 4.563 and could muster only 11 birdies all day.
The last time the State Am was held at Cantigny was in 2014, when Chadd Slutzky carded a 6-under 66 to grab the opening-round lead. No other competitor shot better than 70 that day.
ILLINOIS STATE AMATEUR RETURNS TO CANTIGNY GOLF JULY 16-18
LEMONT, Ill. - For the fifth time since its opening in 1989, Wheaton's Cantigny Golf will serve as a proving ground for Illinois' best amateur golfers, as the 89th Illinois State Amateur Championship will be contested July 16-18.
Considered the premier amateur golf event in the state, the championship will be contested over 72 holes of stroke play, with the victor hoisting the Louis L. Emmerson Trophy. The entire field will play 18 holes on both Tuesday, July 16 and Wednesday, July 17, with the low 35 and ties advancing to a 36-hole final day on Thursday, July 18.
ABOUT THE FIELD
A total of 132 golfers will by vying for the title of Illinois' best amateur golfer in 2019. The field initially consisted of 497 registrants, with 29 being exempt into the Championship and the other 103 earning spots through one of eight qualifiers held across the state in June. Championship registration was open to all Illinois residents with an official USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 7.4.
Championship Information The Illinois State Amateur Championship, conducted annually by the Chicago District Golf Association, was first played in 1931 at Quincy Country Club. Initially conducted at match play until 1963, the event is now a 72-hole stroke play competition contested over three days. It is widely considered the premier amateur golf event in the state. Since the Championship was first conducted at stroke play, 46 different golfers have hoisted the Louis L. Emmerson trophy, several of which are current or former members of the PGA Tour. Spring Grove native and University of Wisconsin golfer Jordan Hahn held on to capture the 2018 title at Bloomington Country Club.