Josh Gilkison took a six-stroke lead into the final round of the Metropolitan Golf Championship at Heatherwoode Golf Club and didn’t falter under the pressure.
The 19-year-old Springboro High School graduate turned in a 3-under-par 67 Sunday to win the tournament with a record score of 262, which is 18 under on the par-70 course.
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“It feels great,” said Gilkison, who will play collegiately at Kent State. “I always love playing – especially on my home course. “It’s really special. It’s a little different than last year when I came from behind.”
Five-time champion Pete Samborsky shot 68 and was runner-up with a 269 total. Gilkison’s 20-year-old brother, Jake, finished third at 274 after turning in a 72
Josh Gilkison, who won last year’s Metro at Country Club of the North, came from six strokes behind to tie Adam Armstrong that time and then beat him in a four-hole playoff.
Gilkison is only the third player to successfully defend his title. The others were Mike Suttman, who won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001 and Samborsky, who was the champion in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.
Gilkison had the low round of the day with three birdies and an eagle on the 14th hole where he cleared the lake with a 300-yard drive and then sank a 35-foot putt.
“The biggest thing was sticking to my game plan,” he said. “I didn’t want to go into the day just playing defensive golf. When you feel like you’re trying to protect a lead that’s when you start hitting bad shots. You have to keep trying to hit good shots and make birdies. That mindset helped me a lot.”
For the 72 holes, Gilkison had two eagles, 18 birdies, 47 pars and five bogeys.
Samborsky played well all four days but didn’t expect somebody to finish 18 under.
“My target score was 10 under and I was 11 under,” he said.
A water-soaked golf course delayed the start of Sunday’s round by an hour and there was two-hour suspension of play from 10:30-12:30 a.m. All told, there were 10 ½ hours of suspended play over the four days.
The tournament began on Thursday with Jake Gilkison, a member of the University of Dayton golf team, posting a 64 to lead his brother by six strokes.
“It didn’t really stun me,” Josh said of his brother. “He always has the possibility of going low because he makes so many putts.”
That wasn’t the case on Sunday.
“The putts wouldn’t go in for me today,” Jake said. “I feel like I hit a lot of really good shots out there, but when I got on the greens I couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the hole.
“I hit a lot of good putts, too. I could see the black line (on the ball) rolling over and over on every single putt, but I was missing the line (to the hole).”
After falling six strokes behind his brother on the first day, Josh answered with scores of 62 and 63 to take the commanding lead into the final round.
In spite of the sibling rivalry, Josh said it was just another round with his brother. The Gilkison family lives near the sixth hole at Heatherwoode and the brothers play the course nearly every day when they’re in town.
Josh said he learned last winter that the 2017 Metro would be played on his home course.
“A guy in the pro shop told me,” he recalled. “I said that’s going to be sweet.”
And sweet it was.