Former Centerville, WSU golfer takes last shot at Ohio Am Championship

Austin Sipe, of Centerville, won the Ohio Amateur at the Springfield Country Club in 2017. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Austin Sipe, of Centerville, won the Ohio Amateur at the Springfield Country Club in 2017. Bill Lackey/Staff

Austin Sipe circled this week on his calendar two years ago. This is the week when the Ohio Amateur Championship will be contested on the golf course where Sipe has played more rounds of golf than he can remember.

It will be held at Moraine Country Club – the club where Austin’s father, Brent Sipe, has been head golf professional since 1997. That’s when Austin, who will be 26 on August 20, was 3 years old.

Austin worked hard at his game over the years and played golf on Centerville High School teams that qualified for the Division I state tournament four years in a row. He earned a scholarship to Wright State University and played on some successful Raiders teams.

»LOOKING BACK: Sipe wins 2017 Ohio Am

In 2016 he tied for fourth place in the Ohio Amateur at Findlay Country Club and in 2017 he won the Am at Springfield Country Club. Playing as defending champion last year, Sipe tied for 14th.

Even before he played in last year’s Ohio Am, he had set his sights on playing in the 2019 tournament at Moraine. When it’s over he will turn professional.

The 25-year-old Sipe has spent the last two winters working as a caddy and valet car parker at the exclusive Donald Ross-designed Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla.

When he was not working at the club, Sipe was working on his game, and he hopes the experience will serve him well as he pursues a pro career. But first he wants to give a good account of himself in this week’s competition against many of the best players in the state.

Former champions like Alan Fadel of Perrysburg, Robert Gerwin and Bill Williamson of Cincinnati, Andrew Montooth of Columbus and Vaughn Snyder of Canton will exchange birdies and bogeys with some of the Miami Valley’s best – Pete Samborsky, Jeff Scohy, Ron Eubel, Josh Gilkison and Tyler Goecke.

And don’t forget the fast-improving Wright State University golfer Bryce Haney from Huber Heights, who broke the course record at Twin Base Golf Club in a casual round eight days ago when he made nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under-par 61.

The 21-year-old Haney, who was individual runner-up in the recent Horizon League Championship, does not resemble the golfer teaching pro John Wilkinson saw five years ago at Windy Knoll in Springfield.

“He couldn’t break 93,” said Wilkinson, who has become one of Haney’s biggest boosters. “Now he has a great short game and a tremendous attitude. He’s a very, very accomplished player.”

After graduating from Wayne High School in 2017, Haney was thankful to be accepted as a walk-on player at WSU.

Last Saturday at Twin Base, where he works in the shop and washes carts, he played 18 with three acquaintances.

He was hitting fairways and greens and making putts. He was 9 under when he reached the green in two at the par 5 No. 18. Then he knocked in what he called “a 20-foot slider” for the closing eagle and a 61. The old record, shared by three players, was 64.

Haney said his best previous round was a 67.

The 72-hole Ohio Am competition begins Tuesday.

Women’s Amateur qualifier Thursday

Eighty-five golfers are scheduled to participate Thursday at Walnut Grove Country Club in a 36-hole qualifier for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship.

The Miami Valley will be represented by seven players, including the current MV Metro women’s champion Alyssa Burritt of Bellbrook. Others are: Jill Schmitmeyer of St. Marys, Rhine Morland and Amanda Hayes of Dayton, Emily Knouff of Fort Loramie, Sarah Willis of Eaton and Hannah McCrabb of Springboro.

Eight spots are available for the Women’s Amateur, which will be played Aug. 5-11 at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi.

Chip shots

Sunday, July 7, is the deadline to enter the City Senior Amateur Match Play Championship, which will be held July 11-14 at Community Golf Club. The event is open to golfers 50 years and older on the day the event begins.

The defending champion is 57-year-old Steve Block, who has won four of the last five.

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