NEOA logoA casual stroll, a playoff battle, and a coronation describes the final results from the three Divisions of the 2019 Northeast Ohio Amateur Championship at Windmill Lakes Golf Club in Ravenna.

Dublin, Ohio native and Miami Redhawks golfer Jack Herceg was braced for a nip-and-tuck race in Monday’s final round of the NEOAm, as he held only a 1-shot and 2-shot lead over the players with him in the final group. But last year’s Cleveland Amateur champ Grant Godfrey of Delaware and Toledo University opened with a double-bogey, and Beau Bayerl of Ashland and Akron University didn’t make a birdie on the day. So neither player really ever applied much pressure to Herceg.

Herceg did make some self-created drama with a double-bogey on the ninth, but he steadied himself with a series of pars right after the turn.

Columbiana's Jared Wilson
Columbiana’s Jared Wilson tied for Monday’s low round with a 68 at Windmill Lakes

Jared Wilson of Columbiana and Zach Mandry from Solon generated some fireworks on Monday, each shooting a 2-under par 68 in the final round. But both players started the day nine shots behind Herceg, so their charge came from too far back in the pack to spook the leader.

Starting slightly closer at six shots back, North Canton’s Ryan Mallette made a solid run at Herceg near the end of his day. Mallette birdied the par-3 14th and the par-5 16th hole at about the same time Herceg made his double-bogey, closing the gap to two. A great look at birdie on the 17th came up just short from about 18 feet. But then some tough luck: the rain started up, and a tree-hampered low-punched second left Mallette pin-high behind a bunker. By the time it was Ryan’s turn to play his third, the sky was a flat-out downpour and Mallette mis-hit the pitch, dumping it into the bunker in front of him and ending his run with a final hole double.

Ryan Mallette 2019 NEO Am Windmill Lakes
In a full-blown downpour, Ryan Mallette chunks his pitch to the 18th green, costing him an outside chance at the title.

That downpour stopped play for about 45 minutes right after Mallette’s group finished, as standing water appeared on a number of greens.

When play resumed, Herceg knew he had a cushion and finished off his casual stroll, coasting to an even-par back-nine 35 and with it a four-shot wire-to-wire victory.

“I made a few bogeys this week, but stayed in control,” Herceg said after the round. “It’s nice to win a trophy that looks like it’s been around for awhile.”

Jack Herceg, Robb Schulze 2019 NEOAm Trophy
Jack Herceg accepts the NEO Am trophy from NOGA Director Robb Schulze

MID-AMATEUR DIVISION

The group that played directly in front of the Championship-leading final threesome featured the players battling for the Mid-Amateur Division title.

And a battle it was.

Darren Phipps
Darren Phipps tees from the 18th in the final round of the 2019 NEOAm.

After a Sunday 67, Darren Phipps of Stow held the Mid-Am lead by two shots over Chris Okeson of Lyndhurst.

After the front nine on Monday was completed, the margin was still the same.

Then early on the back nine, Okeson did the unexpected.

On the short par-4 13th hole, Okeson popped up his hybrid from the tee, leaving him an approach of 180 yards instead of the 135 he expected. Undaunted, Okeson struck a six iron that never left the flag, bounced straight as an arrow when it hit the ground, and roll into the center of the cup for an eagle-2.

“It was the straightest shot, bounce and roll I’ve ever seen,” Okeson said.

Okeson was now one shot ahead of Phipps for the title. But a bogey by Okeson at the next hole squared the score with Phipps. Then the pair traded pars at 15 and 16.

On the 17th hole, the rain again became a factor. It started on the tee and grew steadily harder, and with it both Okeson and Phipps missed the 17th green. In a downpour, Okeson chipped to 12 feet and Phipps to 3 feet just before the rain made green unplayable with standing water. To the clubhouse!

Once play resumed, Okeson rolled his par effort first and missed from missed 12 feet, knocking it just outside of the length of Phipps’ par putt. Okeson took his time then knocked in the bogey. But then Phipps missed his short par effort as it banged off the edge, and the pair headed to the 18th tee all tied.

When both players made solid two-putt pars at the last, it was time for a playoff. (Both men finished the tournament at 7-over par, which put them into a six-way tie for second place in the Championship Division, too.)

The start of the playoff was a bit surreal. Okeson snap-hooked his tee shot left into the trees, and Phipps was affected enough by what he saw that he blocked his tee shot way right into the 15th fairway. Okeson punched out of the trees to the right edge of the fairway about 90 yards out, but he went far enough to the edge to bring a pine tree into play for his third.

From the wet 15th fairway, Phipps hit his approach a bit fat, coming up short of the green and leaving himself about 35 yards to the hole for his third.

It was here that Okeson won himself the NEOA Mid-Am title.

From about 95 yard away and with a pine tree branch overhanging in front of him, Okeson found just enough space to hit his wedge shot to six feet below the hole for par.

Phipps hit his pitch to about 10 feet, but above the hole. Phipps missed the tricky sliding putt, giving Okeson the chance for victory, which he took with a center-cut putt.

Chris Okeson
Chris Okeson taps in his par putt on the 18th to get into a playoff with Darren Phipps

SENIOR DIVISION

In the Senior Division, the only drama to be decided in Monday’s final round was if Silver Lake’s Jim Durr might win by double-digits.

Durr began the tournament with a 71-68 for a 1-under par 36-hole total and a seven shot lead with Monday’s coronation round left to play.

Durr started Monday with six straight pars, which in essence closed out the tournament. Since no other Senior player was making much of a move on the front nine, Durr went into safety mode after his solid start, playing conservatively to earn himself the trophy.

The final margin of victory for Durr was eight shots, over runner-up Monty Guest of Solon.

Jim Durr, 2019 NEO Am Senior Champion
Jim Durr cruised to an 8-shot victory in the Senior Division of the 2019 Northeast Ohio Amateur.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2019 NORTHEAST OHIO AMATEUR >

Northern Ohio Golf Association
FINAL RESULTS:
2019 Northeast Ohio Amateur Championship

presented by Great Lakes Honda
Northern Ohio Golf Association
Windmill Lakes Golf Club, Ravenna
Sat-Mon, June 8 – 10, 2019

CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION

1 Jack Herceg, Dublin 68 – 72 – 73 = 213 $750.00
T2 Chris Okeson, Lyndhurst 74 – 72 – 71 = 217 (Mid-Am Champ payout)
T2 Darren Phipps, Stow 77 – 67 – 73 = 217 $320.00
T2 Jared Wilson, Columbiana 74 – 75 – 68 = 217 $320.00
T2 Jules Blakely, Westlake 76 – 70 – 71 = 217 $320.00
T2 Ryan Mallette, North Canton 74 – 72 – 71 = 217 $320.00
T2 Zach Mandry, Solon 75 – 74 – 68 = 217 $320.00
T8 Beau Bayerl, Ashland 73 – 68 – 77 = 218 $83.00
T8 Grant Godfrey, Delaware 70 – 72 – 76 = 218 $83.00
T8 Jake Fox, Cincinnati 75 – 74 – 69 = 218 $83.00
11 Ken Keller, Youngstown 72 – 76 – 72 = 220
T12 Brian Terlesky, Youngstown 77 – 74 – 70 = 221
T12 Jeff Blechschmidt, Cleveland 78 – 75 – 68 = 221
T14 Brian Smith, Amherst 75 – 72 – 75 = 222
T14 Sean McGuire, Twinsburg 74 – 78 – 70 = 222
16 Roni Shin, Rocky River 73 – 76 – 74 = 223
T17 Cade Kreps, Boardman 73 – 79 – 73 = 225
T17 Robert Schustrich, Windham 78 – 72 – 75 = 225
19 Doug Barbe, rWilloughby 74 – 75 – 77 = 226
20 Ian Hardesty, Chardon 76 – 76 – 76 = 228
T21 Adam Krawsczyn, Cincinnati 75 – 73 – 81 = 229
T21 Kevin Rowe, Westlake 77 – 74 – 78 = 229
T21 Matthew McAdoo, Twinsburg 80 – 74 – 75 = 229
24 Andrew Malkus, Maple Heights 75 – 79 – 77 = 231
25 Charles Winkler, Oxford 73 – 72 – 88 = 233
26 Brandon Bodis, Avon Lake 80 – 74 – 83 = 237
WD PJ Malik, South Russell 74 – 76 – WD = WD

CUT Lucas Liberatore, Lakewood 76 – 79 = 155
CUT Tim Skufca, Westlake 80 – 75 = 155
CUT Bobby Jonda, Boardman 78 – 80 = 158
CUT Jack Doody, Columbus 83 – 75 = 158
CUT Paul Mastros, Wintersville 79 – 79 = 158
CUT Conor Mead, Amherst 80 – 79 = 159
CUT Christian Tomak, Massillon 82 – 78 = 160
CUT Charlie Toman, Chardon 79 – 82 = 161
CUT Jason Stiwald, North Ridgeville 78 – 86 = 164
CUT Andrew Zgrabik, Brecksville 81 – 84 = 165
CUT David D’Arienzo, Stow 84 – 81 = 165
CUT Scott Loudon, N. Canton 80 – 86 = 166
CUT Daniel Castleberry, Landrum, SC 83 – 84 = 167
CUT Alan BergstresserMedina 87 – 81 = 168
DQ Harrison Vonderau, Columbia Station DQ – DQ
DQ Matt Sorrows, Lakewood DQ – DQ
NS Ryan White, Akron 90 – NC

MID-AMATEUR DIVISION AGE 25+

T1 Chris Okeson, Lyndhurst 74 – 72 – 71 = 217 $400.00
T1 Darren Phipps, Stow 77 – 67 – 73 = 217 (Champ Div payout)
3 Jeff Blechschmidt, Cleveland 78 – 75 – 68 = 221 $250.00
4 Brian Smith, Amherst 75 – 72 – 75 = 222 $200.00
5 Robert Schustrich, Windham 78 – 72 – 75 = 225 $150.00
6 Doug Barbe, rWilloughby 74 – 75 – 77 = 226
T7 Adam Krawsczyn, Cincinnati 75 – 73 – 81 = 229
T7 Kevin Rowe, Westlake 77 – 74 – 78 = 229
9 Andrew Malkus, Maple Heights 75 – 79 – 77 = 231

CUT Tim Skufc, aWestlake 80 – 75 = 155
CUT Jason Stiwald, North Ridgeville 78 – 86 = 164
CUT Andrew Zgrabik, Brecksville 81 – 84 = 165
CUT David D’Arienzo, Stow 84 – 81 = 165
CUT Scott Loudon, N. Canton 80 – 86 = 166
CUT Alan Bergstresser, Medina 87 – 81 = 168
NS Ryan White, Akron 90 – NC = NC

SENIOR DIVISION AGE 55+

1 Jim Durr, Silver Lake 71 – 68 – 76 = 215 $400.00
2 Monty Guest, Solon 74 – 75 – 74 = 223 $250.00
T3 Jeffrey Knox, Brecksville 77 – 73 – 74 = 224 $175.00
T3 Mike Cassell, Hudson 76 – 75 – 73 = 224 $175.00
5 John Toth, Akron 72 – 74 – 79 = 225 $100.00
T6 David Stover, Pepper Pike 80 – 75 – 72 = 227 $58.00
T6 Joe Denk, Fairview Park 77 – 77 – 73 = 227 $58.00
T6 Marc Fried, Solon 79 – 77 – 71 = 227 $58.00
9 Mark Guadagni, Hudson 78 – 82 – 77 = 237 $50.00
10 Mark Borlin, Stow 82 – 77 – 80 = 239 $50.00

CUT Duane Mathias, Willoughby Hills 81 – 80 = 161
CUT David Devault, Kirtland 78 – 84 = 162
CUT Tom Baugh, Akron 83 – 79 = 162

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