|Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - LA GRANGE, Ill. - Comfort was the feeling of the day for John Ramsey (Glenview / North Shore CC) as the 40-year-old seized his first solo win in a CDGA-administered event by capturing 28th Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship at Edgewood Valley Country Club on Tuesday.|
“It was the most comfortable day and I can’t be thankful enough for that because, you know, obviously, I play with Chadd (Slutzky) all the time, I’ve got my good buddy on the bag and I’ve played quite a few rounds with (John) Ehrgott,” said Ramsey. “So the comfort of the day really helped.”
That comfortability allowed Ramsey to get off to a blazing start after his self-proclaimed “horrible range session” to birdie each of the first three holes and tie John Ehrgott (Edwards / Mt Hawley CC) for the lead at one-under par. Ehrgott entered the final day with a two-shot advantage over the eventual victor.
Ramsey followed his impressive start to the round with a pair of birdies on hole Nos. 7 and 9 to make the turn after taking just 31 shots. The championship was seemingly a two-man race for the hardware at this point, as the duo had distanced themselves from the remainder of the competitors and were eventually the only two to finish the three-round event under par.
“It was great not to be chasing a number,” Ramsey said. “It was nice to have your opponent right there with you, so I think that helped me a lot just to see what he was doing to kind of play off of him.”
After building his lead to three following a birdie at No. 12, the first sense of turbulence since Ramsey’s pre-round range session emerged as Ehrgott, a two-time champion in the event, tallied back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to shrink his deficit to just one.
“It was a tough battle out there,” Ramsey said of Ehrgott’s form coming down the stretch. “Ehrgott played beautifully.”
Heading into the green on the par-5 16th, Ehrgott seemed to have a slight advantage as he put his fairway wood from the middle of the short grass pin-high and just off the green. Ramsey, who played out of an awkward stance near a fairway bunker, found himself nearly 100-yards out on his third shot before finding the green and eventually two-putting for par. One of his few mistakes on the back-nine, Ehrgott flubbed his first chip which forced the 45-year-old to get up and down to save his par.
Ramsey’s two-putt on the 17th from all the way across the green seemed like it may have sealed the tournament. Following the round, the champion described the effort as “a big one”.
“That got me the two-shot lead and gave me a little comfort on 18 when I was just short of the green and kind of deciding between chipping and putting,” Ramsey said. “It gave me a little comfort that I could just bump it up there and two putt.”
That comfort was tested one last time as Ehrgott’s chip from just off the green brushed the right side of the cup before skating a couple feet by the hole.
Ramsey finished up on the 54th hole of the week with his two putt to win the championship by just one stroke at 2-under par.
“It feels really good,” said Ramsey after his win. “This is kind of the one I’ve been looking for, for a long time and it feels really good to finally do it.”
Joining the two in the final grouping of the day was Ramsey’s CDGA Amateur Four-Ball Championship partner Chadd Slutzky (Deer Park / Royal Fox CC). The 2019 Illinois State Mid-Amateur champion fired a final-round 76 to finish tied for fifth with Edgewood Valley’s own Brian Hickey of Burr Ridge and Ben Murphy (Algonquin / Blackstone GC) at 7-over par.
Also finishing in the top five were Derek Meinhart (Mattoon / Mattoon G&CC) at 5-over par and Graham O’Connor-Brooks (Lake Forest / Glen Flora CC) in fourth place at 6 over.
After winning each of the first two CDGA-administered championships of 2020, Ramsey will now have to give way to the 55 and older Illinois residents as the 34th Illinois State Senior Amateur Championship is next on the schedule on Sept. 14-16 at Mt. Hawley Country Club in Peoria.