90th Illinois State Amateur Championship

Ethan Farnam becomes the 10th golfer to win consecutive Illinois State Amateurs and the 16th to win multiple times.

90th Illinois State Amateur Championship
July 20-22 • Mistwood Golf Club (Romeoville)

Day 3: Thursday, July 22, 2021


ROMEOVILLE, Ill. - Wire-to-wire. Back-to-back.

Crystal Lake’s Ethan Farnam (Crystal Lake) willed himself to victory Thursday at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, as the 22-year-old topped Jordan Less (Elmhurst) and Mac McClear Hinsdale) in a four-hole playoff to defend his title and win the second-consecutive playing of the Illinois State Amateur Championship.

The triumph puts Farnam in exclusive company, as just 15 other players have won the event multiple times, nine of which were in successive Championships.

Related Links: (Scores) / (Photo Gallery)

“It’s awesome,” Farnam said of his triumph. “Everyone was congratulating me for the first one, and it’s been so long, and to just reaffirm that you’re still here and that you’re still one of the better players in the state and in the nation.”

Farnam, the Saint Mary’s (California) senior, held a two-shot lead heading into Thursday’s 36-hole finale over Oak Lawn native Jake Hennessy (Oak Lawn). A third-round 67 expanded Farnam’s lead to six over Tommy Kuhl (Morton) in what appeared to be a runaway finish.

After a quick break for lunch, Farnam was faced with adversity for seemingly the first time all week. His front-nine 39 to open the final round stirred thoughts of dejavu from Farnam’s come-from-behind win over David Perkins in 2019, as the field was closing in. The lone bogey on the closing nine at No. 16 caused the defending champion to dig deep as he was chasing a new leader in 2019 CDGA Amateur Champion, Less, and McClear, the 2021 individual champion.

Just when Farnam appeared to have lost his grasp on the Championship with a tee shot on the 72nd hole that cruised through the fairway and into the water, full trust in his game proved to be pivotal.

“I got way too greedy on the drive [on No. 18] and it just went straight through the fairway and into the water,” Farnam said. “At that moment it definitely crossed my mind that it was over, that I was going to have to do something unbelievable, and I did. I hit one of the best shots I’ve ever hit. I hit 6 iron to one foot on the last hole to get into the playoff.”

Farnam, joined by Less and McClear, trekked to the Championship’s 16th hole to play a three-hole aggregate playoff before altering to a sudden-death format, if necessary.
The trio shared pars on each of the first two holes before McClear’s 80-plus foot putt got away from him en route to a par, eliminating the rising junior at Iowa out of competition in what was his first major tournament playoff.

“I’ve never been in a playoff at a big tournament like this before, so it was definitely a learning experience,” McClear said. “I felt like I handled it really well, but just hit a mediocre shot into the par-5 there, and a bad putt, but I’ll definitely take away from that experience and hopefully be better next time.”

Playing the par-5 18th hole for the third time in the last five holes, Farnam and Less caught slight trouble off the tee, abolishing the opportunity for either to seek the flagstick with their second shots.

“Me and Jordan both hit really good drives,” Farnam said of the 76th hole. “I thought mine was really good, his was good, and we both ended up one-inch screwed.”

Farnam punched out of the bunker and proceeded to get up and down for birdie, rolling in a 10-foot putt with an emphatic fist pump. Less, meanwhile, found the left corner of the green, but three-putted to a flagstick located on the other end of the putting surface.

“I had to lay up and that was more-or-less a lay-up by him with a 70-foot putt,” Farnam. “Like I said, I hit a decent wedge and the putt was huge. I read it, kept my head down, end-over-end. It’s just the simple stuff in those moments and I trusted it.”

“It was definitely a little different feeling,” Farnam said. “This one feels so much better; a lot more confidence gained from this and it was definitely a way harder challenge. Before it was kind of handed to me by David [Perkins]. He was a good player, and still is. This one is so much different. I had it and was just slowly letting it slip. There was a good three hours where it was just slowly draining away from me. To keep at it and pull it off, it’s so good.”

For the other runner-up in Less, it’s on to the professional ranks as the recent graduate of Northern Illinois University utilized one last State Am as a final tune-up before heading to Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School.

“Everything about the CDGA has been awesome,” Less said when asked why he chose to delay his professional career. “They’ve certainly helped me grow my game and I just wanted one last CDGA event.”

Continuing to wear all emotions on his sleeve, Farnam admitted another unfamiliar feeling following the victory.

“I’m proud of myself, I rarely am to be honest,” Farnam stated. “I’m always so hard on myself, but today I got mad and had emotions, but got over it and dealt with it super well today.”

Proud he should be as his wire-to-wire, back-to-back win at Mistwood Golf Club will forever be cemented in Illinois State Amateur golf glory.

Quotes of Note:

Ethan Farnam on how he pushed through to win the Championship...
“First thing is, it’s hard to win, man. It’s so hard to string four round together and I felt like I wasn’t even playing bad but the scorecard just wasn’t matching up.”

Mac McClear on his goal heading into the final day of action at Mistwood Golf Club...
“I started the day [four] back, so just to give myself a chance was really exciting. The goal was to make as many birdies as I could to see what the result was.”

Jordan Less
on being on the losing end of a playoff after his 37-hole playoff victory in the 2019 CDGA Am…
“At the end of the day, I’m still gonna go home and shower.”

Nick Tenuta on how his win in the 2021 CDGA Amateur Championship springboarded his success this week…
“It was great because it gave me some confidence. For this tournament especially, I just knew that I could compete against players from Illinois. It was nice for this tournament, with so many great players out here, to have the confidence coming in.”

Brendan O’Reilly on his tournament-best 64 in the final round…
“Honestly, not a ton was different. I think in tournament golf sometimes one or two swings can mean the difference between a good day and a bad one and I think that’s all it was. I knew I had a good run going and wanted to finish off strong.”

Ricky Costello on how his home-field advantage helped lead to his top-10 finish…
“It’s nice, you know, kind of home-field advantage definitely helps. As far as reading greens, I think I had an advantage there because I’ve putted on these greens since I was 10- or 11-years-old, so I think that’s part of the reason why I putted so well this week.”

Mistwood Director of Golf Andy Mickelson on stepping in as a playing marker in the Tournament…
“It was awesome. I’ve probably played this course over 1,000 times, and to play it in these conditions with all we’ve done to try and get a State Am here, to be able to participate in any way that I could was so much fun.”


  • The par-5 18th statistically played as the easiest scoring hole of the tournament, featuring a scoring average of 4.778. The hole also featured 12 eagles throughout the week.
  • The par-4 11th and par-3 13th statistically played as the hardest scoring holes of the event, featuring a scoring average of 4.392 and 3.392, respectively.
  • The field’s average score throughout the course of four rounds was 75.525. In comparison, the average score at Cantigny Golf in 2019 was 75.282.
  • Only seven eagles were carded in total throughout the final day’s two rounds. The first two rounds featured a combined 21 eagles.
  • This marked the first time the Illinois State Amateur Championship had finished in a playoff since Tee-K Kelly and Conor Dore battled to the end at Panther Creek Country Club in 2015. The 2021 iteration also featured the first three-man playoff since at least 2006.
  • Ethan Farnam birdied the par-5 18th all six times he played it throughout the course of the Championship.
  • Set to turn professional following this event, Jordan Less concludes his amateur career with one CDGA Amateur crown (2019), two Illinois State Amateur runner-up finishes (2019, 2021) and two low-am honors at the Illinois Open (2019, 2020).
  • No bogeys were carded during the three-person playoff featuring Ethan Farnam, Jordan Less or Mac McClear. The trio combined to play the three-hole aggregate playoff and one sudden death hole at 3 under.
  • Brendan O’Reilly (Hinsdale) shot an 8-under 64 in the final round, the lowest score posted by anybody in the championship. O’Reilly was +2 for the event prior to the final round, but finished at -6 overall and in a tie for sixth.
  • Nick Tenuta (Mt. Prospect), who won the 101st CDGA Amateur Championship in June at Bull Valley Golf Club, recorded his second consecutive sixth-place State Am placing by finishing at -6.
  • Tommy Dunsire (Naperville) notched two 69s on the final day. His aggregate of -6 on Thursday was second only to O’Reilly’s 9 under.
  • The highest-finishing mid-amateur (25 and older) competitor was Larry Blatt (Chicago), who finished the event at -3 overall and in a tie for 12th. 
  • The top-20 finishers, including ties, all earned exemptions into the 2022 Illinois State Amateur Championship. The event is slated to be conducted at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette.

Day 2: Wednesday, July 21, 2021


ROMEOVILLE, Ill. - The last time the Illinois State Amateur was contested in 2019, Ethan Farnam (Crystal Lake) sat four strokes back of the lead heading into the weather-shortened final 18-hole round at Cantigny Golf. Through 13 holes, he sat six shots back.

As has been the case with many things recently, circumstances are a bit different this year.

Farnam, the defending champion and Saint Mary’s (California) senior, holds a two-shot lead at -11 heading into the final 36 holes of the 90th Illinois State Amateur Championship at Mistwood Golf Club, following a 4-under 68 in the second round Wednesday. Relative newcomer Jake Hennessy (Oak Lawn) sits in second at -9 after firing a 4-under 68.

Related Links: (Scoring) / (Photo Gallery) / (Round 3 Tee Times) / (Round 4 Tee Times)

“I definitely learned from the whole round what I had going for the day,” the 22-year-old Farnam said. “That was one of the main things coming into the week – understand what you’re hitting good and what you’re not hitting good. It’s such a tight golf course, that when you get out of position, there’s bogeys and more to be made, but when you’re on and keeping it in play, it’s birdies and pars only.”

Starting on No. 1 as part of the afternoon wave, Farnam went out at even par with three bogeys negating three birdies. A somewhat uneventful front nine was overshadowed by a noteworthy inward slate, beginning with a one-stroke penalty resulting in a bogey 5 on No. 11. A step backward like that can, and has, derailed the rounds of many before. The lengthy lefty, however, fought hard to maintain his composure. The result of that focus? A scintillating scorecard featuring five birdies through the last seven holes, including a stretch of consecutive red figures from Nos. 12-15.

“My upset is way more sad and depressed and I get down on myself,” Farnam said. “The anger is more motivating. I hit it inside three feet four times in a row. It’s those kinds of things that happen after a mental thing and it just shows you how this sport is all in your head. It’s frustrating at times, but it’s also awesome at times.”

Hennessy, appearing in his first State Am, started his round with a bogey on the first, before getting to two under coming to No. 8. A poor pitching wedge off the tee saw the 6-foot-6 brute make a double bogey on the par 3. Another bogey on the par-3 13th necessitated a discussion with his caddie and brother.

“I had my brother on the bag and we were just talking about the last five holes. We wanted to commit to every shot,” Hennessy said. “We threw our heads down. I had too many thoughts in my head. We tried to simplify.”

And simplify they did. Birdies on Nos. 15 and 17 sandwiched a “good par save” on No. 16. Following a drive that cleared the bunker more than 290 yards from the tee on the par-5 18th, Hennessy knocked an 8-iron from 180 yards, “one of my favorites coming in,” to 12 feet and proceeded to jar the eagle putt. Coming off qualifying for the U.S. Amateur on July 7 and a solid showing in a recent Korn Ferry Tour Monday qualifier, the confidence has come in bunches for Hennessy.

“My family’s been believing in me, and the last few months, I’ve started to believe in my game a little bit more,” Hennessy said. “I’ve taken some pressure off myself and understood that I didn’t have to be perfect. I was far from perfect today and scrapped a good round. It’s been more getting out of my own way and just playing the game.”

Back in third at -8 sits University of Illinois rising senior Tommy Kuhl (Morton), who tallied six birdies and one bogey in the morning to turn in a 5-under 67, the lowest round of the day. Mac McClear (Hinsdale), the co

Quotes of Note:

Ethan Farnam on the circumstances surrounding a 36-hole final round…
“It’s a long day tomorrow, so there’s a lot more variables. You can get tired. The weather will change from the morning to the end. There’s a lot to think about.”

Ethan Farnam on bouncing back from trouble over the first 36 holes...
“Yesterday, I made a terrible bogey, and then today I got a penalty I don’t think I should have got. Both of those things just sat me straight. I didn’t worry about my results; you have to start being better.

Tommy Kuhl on his strengths during the second round…
“This is a very demanding course off the tee and once you get off the tee, it’s anybody’s game. It’s not a long course, so you’re going to have a lot of wedges in. The rough, they’ve grown it out, so if you go in there, it’s almost a penalty. I’m hitting a lot of fairways and giving myself a lot of opportunities for birdies.”

Tommy Kuhl on the differences between playing late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday...
“I’d say the pins were a bit tougher today. We got here in the morning and it was kind of windy. Definitely windier than it is right now. I’d just say the pins were a bit tougher. I hit it a lot closer today and made a couple of big putts.

Jake Hennessy on his prior history with Illinois State Amateur and CDGA-administered championships…
“This is my first State event. I played in a couple CDGA events in the past, but not much. We didn’t have much going last summer and the year before that I just had a little bit of school stuff. I’m still pretty new to tournaments, so I’m still figuring it out.”

Jake Hennessy on the mindset heading into the 36-hole final round Thursday…
“The rough, they’ve grown it out, so if you go in there, it’s almost a penalty. I’m hitting a lot of fairways and giving myself a lot of opportunities for birdies.”

Mac McClear on how his round unfolded...
“My swing was better than the score told. I really only made two or three bad swings. I started on the back, and on those two par-5s, I hit great drives. I had a 5-iron and a 7-iron into those holes on the second shot and I hit both into the water. Made a double and a par. The rest of that nine, I played pretty solidly. On the back nine, kind of the same thing. I hit one bad wedge shot, made a bogey. Other than that, I kept it around, kept it at even.


  • In total, 38 players made the cut, which was made to the low 35 and ties at +4. In comparison, 41 players made the cut in 2019 at Cantigny, which came at +3.
  • The par-5 18th statistically played as the easiest scoring hole of the first round, featuring a scoring average of 4.828. The hole also featured four eagles throughout the day.
  • The par-4 11th statistically played as the hardest scoring hole of the first round, featuring a scoring average of 4.509. The hole featured nine double bogeys and six “others” - defined as triple bogey or more.
  • The field’s average round two score was 75.801. In comparison, Tuesday’s opening round average score was 76.371.
  • The field combined to card eight eagles in the second round, moving the event’s total to 22. Only eight eagles were notched throughout the entirety of the 2019 State Am at Cantigny.
  • Farnam is looking to join an illustrious group of nine golfers who have won consecutive Illinois State Amateur titles. Bloomington’s Todd Mitchell was the last back-to-back winner in 2002 and 2003. Fifteen players have won the event multiple times, with Tee-K Kelly the last to do so in 2013 and 2015.
  • Jake Erickson (Springfield) sits T11 following rounds of 70 and 72. He has finished in the top 12 of the State Am in five of the last seven years, including a T-4 placing at Cantigny in 2019
  • Six of Ethan Farnam’s seven career Illinois State Amateur Championship rounds have now been under par, including the last five.
  • John Scardullo (Plainfield) carded a 2-over 74 in the first round. This was a 15-shot improvement on his first-round score, the largest in the field.
  • Nick Tenuta (Mt. Prospect) shot a 3-under 69 to safely make the cut at even par overall. The University of Louisville senior won the 101st CDGA Amateur Championship last month at Bull Valley Golf Club

Day 1: Tuesday, July 20, 2021


ROMEOVILLE, Ill. - Ethan Farnam (Crystal Lake) is his own toughest critic.

Entering the 90th Illinois State Amateur Championship as the event’s defending champion, having emerged victorious at Cantigny Golf in 2019 before COVID necessitated the 2020 iteration’s cancelation, Farnam was nonplussed at being regaled about his play leading up to his title defense.

“Everyone’s like ‘Hey, didn’t you just win this event?’ But it was two years ago,” Farnam said. “I have not been playing good, so it’s pretty frustrating when everyone’s telling you how good you are because you won this event and you’re really not playing that good.”

Even Farnam was satisfied with himself following a 7-under 65 in the opening round Tuesday at Mistwood Golf Club. The 22-year-old Saint Mary’s (California) senior shares the first-round lead with Mac McClear (Hinsdale), a rising junior at Iowa who won the Big Ten individual championship in May.

Related Links: (Scoring) / (Photo Gallery) / (Round 2 Tee Times)

Starting on the back nine, Farnam “hit every drive perfect,” but battled some “shaky” and “nervy” wedge play early and stood at 2-under with four holes to play. However, the lefty proceeded to go on a tear to close his round, playing the final four holes at 5-under. The stretch was jump-started by a tap-in eagle on the par-5 sixth - one that nearly missed being his second albatross in one week - and concluded with a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 ninth. 

“That was my longest putt of the day, so that felt nice,” Farnam said.

McClear’s round was one more rooted in consistency than fueled by a surge like Farnam’s. The 20-year-old, playing in his first State Am since debuting as a 16-year-old in 2017, mitigated one bogey on the day with eight birdies. Riding the confidence garnered from winning the Big Ten, McClear was pleased with all assets of his game on a sunny and hot morning.

“A lot of things were working today,” McClear said. “Pretty much everything was good. I drove it well, hit a lot of good iron shots. My wedges were particularly good. That’s something I’ve been working on and it paid off today. And it always helps to make a couple putts.

“[Winning the Big Ten] obviously gave me a lot of confidence to know that I can win big tournaments and win against some of the best players in the country,” McClear said. “I just tried to keep that confidence rolling, keep doing the same things and it seems to be working so far.”

Jordan Less (Elmhurst) - the 2019 CDGA Co-Player of the Year and 2019 State Am runner up - headlines a three-way tie for third following a 5-under 67. Joining Less to round out the top five are Anthony Ruthey (Port Byron) - a rising redshirt sophomore at SIUE who concluded his round with five consecutive birdies - and Jake Hennessy (Oak Lawn) - a recent Dallas Baptist graduate and Beverly Country Club member who qualified for the U.S. Amateur last week.

The entire field will play another 18-hole round on Wednesday, before the field is cut to the low 35 and ties in advance of Thursday’s final 36 holes.

Quotes of Note

Ethan Farnam on the importance of driving the ball well at Mistwood…
“Honestly it’s a driving golf course this week. The way it’s set up - the rough is gnarly. I hit every drive perfect. I think I hit two drives perfect that got bad kicks and still went in the rough. It’s really demanding off the tee and I just hit every single one as good as I could, so that was huge.” 

Mac McClear on how he has evolved since his State Am debut in 2017…
“Looking back at that first one, I was definitely a smaller guy. Definitely a different player. And it definitely didn’t work out so well - I missed the cut pretty handily that week. I’ve definitely grown as a person and a player and I’m just better all around now.”

Mac McClear on the challenge that Mistwood Golf Club provides…
“It’s a short course here at Mistwood (6,808 yards), but they have the rough really long and there’s a lot of water and fescue. If you strayed away from the fairways, you’re definitely getting in trouble.”

Jordan Less on his approach throughout his 5-under 67...
“If you put the ball in play out here, you’re going to have a lot of wedges. I didn’t hit any tee shots off line, so I was kind of always looking at birdie or par. I hit a lot of greens, and when I missed a green I left myself with some pretty easy tap-ins.”

Anthony Ruthey on his stretch of five straight birdies to close his round...
“When I started out the round, I wasn’t hitting the driver straight. I was just trying to find it a little bit. It wasn’t horrible - a couple in the rough, a couple left. I was just trying to stay patient with it. I wasn’t going to try to force any birdies. I knew that this was going to be a long tournament, hopefully 72 holes for me. It kind of paid off towards the end - I was able to stay in the moment and be patient. The birdies started to come, the putts started to drop and I did a really good job of staying in the moment and that was the biggest thing.”

Jake Hennessy on how his opening round unfolded...
[Mistwood is] a great course. It can kind of beat you up if you find some trouble. I did a good job avoiding most of the hazards. The greens are so good that if you give yourself some wedges, you can have some good opportunities. Luckily I got some birdies to fall.” 


  • The par-5 18th statistically played as the easiest scoring hole of the first round, featuring a scoring average of 4.686. The hole also featured five eagles throughout the day.
  • The par-4 11th statistically played as the hardest scoring hole of the first round, featuring a scoring average of 4.504. The hole featured 13 double bogeys and 6 “others” - defined as triple bogey or more.
  • The field’s average round one score was 76.371. In comparison, the opening round average score at Cantigny in 2019 was 75.713.
  • The field combined to card 14 eagles in the first round. Only eight eagles were notched throughout the entirety of the 2019 State Am at Cantigny.
  • Twelve players finished in red figures on Tuesday at Mistwood. That is the same number of players that finished under par for the entirety of the championship at Cantigny in 2019, the event’s last iteration.
  • The top seven golfers in the field played in the morning wave. Tommy Kuhl (Morton), who sits in eighth, fired the best round of the afternoon wave with a 3-under 69.
  • The opening-round 65 by Farnam is the lowest first-round score by a defending champion since at least 2006. Five of his career six Illinois State Amateur Championship rounds have now been under par.
  • Farnam is looking to join an illustrious group of nine golfers who have won consecutive Illinois State Amateur titles. Bloomington’s Todd Mitchell was the last back-to-back winner in 2002 and 2003. Fifteen players have won the event multiple times, with Tee-K Kelly the last to do so in 2013 and 2015.
  • Home-club hopeful Jeff Laski (Downers Grove), the lone Mistwood member in the field, carded a 5-over 77 in the first round.
  • Nick Tenuta (Mt. Prospect) shot a 3-over 75. The University of Louisville senior won the 101st CDGA Amateur Championship last month at Bull Valley Golf Club.



LEMONT, Ill.It will have been more than two years since a shot was struck in Illinois’ premier amateur tournament when the first competitors step to the tee for the 90th Illinois State Amateur Championship, slated for July 20-22 at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville.

Annually one of the state’s most anticipated amateur events, a COVID-19-necessitated cancelation in 2020 marked the first time the Illinois State Amateur had not been conducted since its inception in 1931. The tournament returns in 2021 with as much excitement as ever and a star-studded amateur field set to vie for the Louis L. Emmerson Trophy.

The State Am is a test of mental and physical endurance as much as it is one of golfing acumen, with the Championship’s 72 holes unfolding over the course of three days. The entire field will play 18-hole rounds on Tuesday, July 20 and Wednesday, July 21, before a cut is made to the low 35 and ties. Those who remain will complete the event with 36 holes on Thursday, July 22.

The Championship’s field of 132 spawned from an initial pool of 549 registrants, the most since 2017. Any Illinois resident with an official USGA Handicap Index® of 7.4 or below was eligible to sign up for one of eight qualifiers conducted throughout the entirety of Illinois. In total, 104 individuals advanced from these qualifiers, with the remaining 28 spots going to players who were exempt due to past performances in the State Am and other CDGA-administered tournaments.

Related Links: (Full Preview) / (2021 Field) / (Round 1 Tee Times) / (Round 2 Tee Times) /(Chicago District Golfer Preview) / ("By the Numbers" Infographic) / (2019 Recap) / (Event History)

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 as 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. Crystal Lake native and Saint Mary’s College golfer Ethan Farnam held on to capture the 2019 title at Cantigny Golf. The 2020 rendition of the event was canceled due to COVID-19.