Austin Sipe built a five-shot lead after the third round of the Ohio Amateur, but he knew it wasn’t an insurmountable margin — not at Springfield Country Club with trouble lurking everywhere.
That’s why he went straight to the practice green after signing his scorecard, spending his time drilling five-foot putts before heading home.
“Our here, you’re going to get a lot of five-footers for par — especially if you leave yourself in the wrong spot,” he said.
The Centerville resident and former Wright State golfer didn’t have his best stuff Friday, but he managed to extract himself from predicaments often enough to card a 4-over-par 74 in the final round for a four-shot victory. And it was his putter that saved him.
Coming off his fifth bogey of the day at No. 12, he put his tee shot on the par-3 13th in thick rough. He had to aim his chip about 18 feet above the hole, but it landed softly, took a stroll down the slope and stopped five feet below the cup. He made the putt for par and never looked back.
“I wish I could have played a little better, but I hung in there as hard as I could,” Sipe said.
“That was such an awesome up-and-down on 13. That right there kind of got me back into things.”
Springfield sensation Luke Wells also shot a 74 to finish in a tie for fourth at one-over-par 281, five shots back.
He was trailing by four going into the par-3 16th and pushed his tee shot to the right, but it took a sharp bounce off the hillside and darted straight for the pin. After just missing a hole-in-one, he turned to about 100 spectators following the leaders and cracked, “I want everyone to know I meant to do that.”
He made birdie, but he stumbled to a three-putt bogey on the par-5 17th. He lipped out a birdie attempt on 18 that would have put him in a tie for second — but he still was in rare territory with a top-five finish in the 114-year-old tournament at age 16.
“It was awesome,” he said of the experience. “I probably had the biggest crowd all week of any group. Coming down the last couple holes, there was a bunch of people following us. It was a really cool feeling. I never played golf in front of that many people.”
Though he’ll probably have less of an entourage this weekend, he has two more days of high-intensity golf. He’ll take a one-shot lead into the third round of the Springfield City Am at Reid North today.
“I’ll try to go out and make some birdies and, hopefully, shoot a couple more 68s or 69s,” he said. “It’s tough (not having a break), but finishing well here, it won’t feel as tough. Playing well usually doesn’t feel as long and hard as playing bad.”
SCC was hosting its sixth Ohio Am and did a masterful job managing six inches of rain this week. Tour player Jason Kokrak won the event the last time it was held here in 2007.
Brennen Walsh, who finished his golf career at the University of Cincinnati last season, and Marshall University standout Alex Weiss tied for second at even-par 280. Grant Godfrey, who plays for Toledo, tied for fourth with Wells.
Sipe, who was a second-team All-Horizon League pick as a senior last season, has one more semester left before graduating, but he’s already working as a product specialist for Titleist.
His father is Moraine Country Club pro Brent Sipe, who gave his son his usual words of encouragement before the round began.
“He always tells me he loves me, and I know he means it. Regardless of what would have happened today, good or bad, it’s always the same,” Austin Sipe said.
“It means so much — all the work he’s put in being a mentor and an absolutely great father. And my mom, too. I’m really blessed.”
2017 Ohio Amateur Championship
July 11-14, 2017
Austin Sipe, Centerville, Ohio - 67-68-67-74--276
Alex Weiss, Pickerington, Ohio - 68-74-70-68--280
Grant Godfrey, Delaware, Ohio - 70-70-69-71--280
Brennen Walsh, Cincinnati, Ohio - 67-72-71-71--281
Luke Wells, Springfield, Ohio - 70-69-68-74--281
Will Kurtz, Hudson, Ohio - 69-75-68-71--283
Taylor Suggs, Cincinnati, Ohio - 70-73-71-70--284
Chase Johnson, Barberton, Ohio - 68-72-75-69--284
Camden Solomon, Dublin, Ohio - 67-73-77-68--285
Garrett Brickley, Pickerington, Ohio - 69-68-73-76--286
Clark Engle, Springfield, Ohio - 69-75-71-72--287
Brendan Keating, Cincinnati, Ohio - 73-68-76-72--289
Jeffrey Scohy, Bellbrook, Ohio - 67-76-69-77--289
Nicolas Paxson, Cincinnati, Ohio - 69-74-74-73--290
Chris Okeson, Lyndhurst, Ohio - 73-75-69-73--290
Evan Yakubov, Columbus, Ohio - 72-73-75-70--290
Stephen Watts, Toledo, Ohio - 71-70-79-70--290
Michael Cress, Columbus, Ohio - 71-71-71-78--291
Ryan Wenzler, Dayton, Ohio - 74-77-69-71--291
Trent Tipton, Orient, Ohio - 69-74-75-73--291
Maxwell Moldovan, Uniontown, Ohio - 68-73-74-76--291
Jack Kunkel, Sylvania, Ohio - 70-72-75-75--292
JD Fletcher, Dublin, Ohio - 74-73-74-72--293
Michael O'Brien, West Chester, Ohio - 69-74-75-75--293
Josh Wick, Upper Arlington, Ohio - 73-74-70-78--295
Brandon Hoelzer, Fremont, Ohio - 71-77-72-75--295
Bill Williamson, Cincinnati, Ohio - 68-75-74-78--295
Chris Coleman, Waynesville, Ohio - 72-70-76-77--295
Trey Rath, Powell, Ohio - 76-75-68-76--295
Derek Hamm, Heath, Ohio - 73-76-72-74--295
Blake Prince, East Liverpool, Ohio - 72-75-74-74--295
Matthew Hoffman, Westerville, Ohio - 76-75-69-76--296
Andrew Mayhew, Dayton, Ohio - 72-71-76-77--296
Domenic Maricocchi, Loveland, Ohio - 74-76-70-76--296
Justin Arens, Columbus, Ohio - 72-73-72-79--296
Cameron Willis, Eaton, Ohio - 70-73-74-80--297
Jack Kozlowski, Columbus, Ohio - 76-74-70-77--297
Isaac Hartley, Bellevue, Ohio - 78-72-71-79--300
Jules Blakely, Westlake, Ohio - 71-75-74-81--301
Robert Gerwin II, Cincinnati, Ohio - 71-75-74-DQ--DQ