|Friday, June 30, 2017 - |
SCHERERVILLE, Ind. -- Drake Bushong (Pekin/ Lick Creek GC) survived a grueling week to upend Michael Fastert (Des Plaines / Sanctuary GC) with a 3-and-2 win in the 36-hole final match of the 98th CDGA Amateur Championship at Briar Ridge Country Club. Bushong, a rising junior at Bradley University, never trailed in the final match.
“It’s pretty cool to put it on your resume and say that you won it,” Bushong said of his victory. “It’s my first win in (the area), being a big tournament, so that was pretty cool.”
The week started questionably for Bushong, who shot a 3-over-par 75 in the first round of stroke play Tuesday morning, leaving him three shots below the cut line heading into the second round. In the afternoon round, Bushong put five birdies against a single bogey to card a 68 and make match play as the 13th seed.
In the opening round of matches on Wednesday morning, Bushong trailed 3-down with eight holes remaining before winning the 12th through 15th holes to swing the match in his favor, hanging on to defeat Drew Shepherd (Hinsdale / Ruth Lake CC) 1 up. Wednesday afternoon in the quarterfinals, Bushong again found himself trailing, this time 2 down to Brett Tomfohrde (Chicago / Butterfield CC) through seven holes. Bushong flipped the script again, winning the 8th, 9th and 10th holes to go 1-up, which would be the final result.
“I just had the philosophy the whole week of ‘You’re not even supposed to be here.’” Bushong added. “There was no pressure on me. Just go out, have fun, hit shots and see what happens.”
In Thursday’s semifinals, Bushong won the first hole with a birdie, but by the 6th hole, trailed 1 down to Kyle Slattery (Rockford / The Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Club). After winning the 17th hole to extend the match, he birdied the first hole again to win in 19 holes.
Friday’s championship match saw Bushong jump out to a lead early with a birdie on the 3rd, but Fastert responded with a birdie of his own at the 6th to square things. At the 9th, Bushong again found his rhythm, winning that hole with a par, then the 10th with a 15-foot birdie putt, the 11th with a 6-foot birdie putt, and the par-5 12th with a 5-foot birdie putt. Fastert stemmed the tide before the break, with birdies at the 14th and 18th trimming the lead to two.
On the final 18, Bushong extended the lead back to four with a chip-in eagle on the par-5 2nd, and a par at the 4th. Fastert again bounced back, trimming the lead to two, before lightning delayed the match for 36 minutes on the 29th hole. When play resumed, Fastert quickly cut the lead to one with a 5-foot birdie at the 11th.
“It was kind of like a restart button,” Bushong said of the delay. I just tried to pretend it’s even, hit some better shots and try to make some more birdies. That was my key.”
After Fastert missed the green and couldn’t get up and down from the rough at the par-3 13th and Bushong won the par-5 15th with a birdie, he was able to clinch on the 16th green when Fastert’s 20-foot birdie putt narrowly slipped wide.
In all, Bushong played 125 holes en route to the victory. Fastert, a 37-year old Bradley University golf alum, was looking to become the second consecutive mid-amateur (25 and older) player to win the CDGA Amateur, which has recently been dominated by collegiate golfers.
“Playing a lot of golf helped prepare me for this event,” Fastert said. “I play a lot of weekend events, CDGA events and a few USGA events and the course set-up is similar. The more you played the better you get and get used to it.”
The next championship on the CDGA calendar is the 86th Illinois State Amateur Championship, to be contested July 18-20 at Calumet Country Club in Homewood, Ill.