Independence Open Results
The APT held its fifth national major at Blackwolf Run (Meadow Valleys) and Whistling Straits (Straits) over the 4th of July weekend in Kohler, WI. 107 players from 24 chapters all across America teed it up at the Straits course, home of the Ryder Cup in just 7 weeks. Whistling Straits is currently ranked as the #5 Public Course in America according to Golfweek Magazine, so players were in for a treat. Perfect weather, breathtaking views, insane bunkering, and a beautiful walk was in store for all the players. One of APT’s focus on elevating the player experience involves playing courses in their prime, and both Blackwolf Run and the Straits were in perfect condition. On Saturday, the wind picked up into the mid-20’s, presenting a difficult challenge for the players. On Sunday, players were faced with many Sunday pins that we’ll be sure to see used for the Ryder Cup, and the champions that took them on and succeeded were very deserving of their priority exemptions to Pinehurst.
In Division 1, St. Louis’ Nate McCutcheon got off to an early lead with some steady play in the wind at Blackwolf Run, earning himself a 2-stroke lead going into Sunday’s play at Whistling Straits. Steady play on Sunday earned him a 2-stroke victory over Memphis’ Ed McDugle, who finished with a flurry of birdies shooting the low round on Whistling Straits with a round of 73. 3rd place went to Kansas City member Josh Semeniuk, who shot two steady rounds of 78-78 to finish in solo 3rd. With his victory, Nate McCutcheon earns himself a priority exemption into the inaugural North American Championship at Pinehurst Resorts.
In Division 2, Nashville’s Steve Reigle and Metro Philadelphia’s Arabinda Behura were locked in a back and forth battle on Sunday at the Straits Course. While Behura held the lead going into Sunday based on his stellar play on Sunday, Reigle got off to a hot start on Sunday to take the lead. Their last hole was the par-4 9th and Behura stood on the tee needing a birdie to force a playoff. His second shot settled just 4 feet right of the hole, with a knee-knocker upcoming to force a playoff. A steady stroke sent the ball in the middle of the cup to force a playoff with Steve Reigle. On the first playoff hole the par-4 10th, Steve Reigle’s tee shot found a bush, leading to an unplayable meanwhile Behura was just in the right rough. Reigle his his 3rd shot on the green, leaving around a 30 foot par putt. Behura was over the green in two. Behura hit a phenomenal recovery shot, and then secured the victory with another clutch putt. With his victory, Aribinda Behura earns a priority exemption to Pinehurst. Dallas Fort-Worth member Phil Klein shot steady rounds of 82-80 to finish solo 3rd, while Garrett Emch from Virginia Capital shot 81-82 to finish in fourth. St. Louis member Mike Mervis rounded out the top 5.
In Division 3, St. Louis’ Chad Henry was able to sleep on a 3-shot lead after the first day at Meadow Valleys after firing a solid 80 in really tough conditions. The chasers were stacked behind him with many within striking distance on a very tough Whistling Straits course. After a hot start, Henry started to falter on the back 9, letting his lead slip to just 1 heading to the difficult par-3 7th hole (his 16th), with a tough back right pin location situated perilously close to Lake Michigan. Henry made his best swing of the weekend, narrowly missing an ace but converting the birdie to put his lead out of reach. Chad Henry earns a priority exemption to Pinehurst with the National Major victory. St. Louis’ Michael Konuch applied some late pressure to Henry with a spectacular up and down on 9 (his 18th) for par, but fell just one shot short to take solo 2nd place. St. Louis’ John Schranck finished in 3rd with a 2-day total of +28, Nashville’s Jerry Drewry finished in 4th with a 2-day total of +29. The top-5 was rounded out by Kentucky’s Todd Gibbs, Indianapolis’ Jon Wendt, and St. Louis’ Tim Leonberger with 2-day totals of +30.
In Division 4, Cincinnati/Dayton’s Robert Lawless and Nashville’s John White were in a neck and neck battle after day one with Lawless firing an 85 and White firing an 86. The Straits course at Whistling Straits can derail a round at any point, and both men played well again on Sunday. John White edged Lawless by one stroke to earn the victory, shooting an 89 on day 2 and earning an exemption into the North American Championship at Pinehurst. Carolina Triad’s Daniel Henris earned a 3rd place with rounds of 90-88 to finish at +34. Metro Philadelphia’s John Eastlack finished in solo 4th with a 2-day total of +35, while Metro New York’s Peter Murray rounded out the top-5 with a two-day total of +36.
In Division 5, the leaderboard was tightly bunched after Saturday at Meadow Valleys. Nashville’s John Kelsey and Birmingham’s Wilson Gammill both shot 97 to tie for the lead. St. Louis’ Selena Droce fired a 98 to sit just one shot back. Sunday at the Straits would be a tough test for sure. John Kelsey fired another 97 to earn his priority exemption to Pinehurst, edging Wilson Gammill by 4 strokes. Metro New York’s James Bekiaris shot the round of the day Sunday with a 92 to move up into 3rd place. St. Louis’ Selena Droce finished in 4th place.
New for this event was an optional side-game, a blind-draw fourball competition. For a $20 entry per player, you would be paired at random with another player for this competition. The prize was $500/team in the Whistling Straits Pro Shop for the gross winner and the net winner. Players were allowed to enter up to 5 times, and the net competition was calculated at 80% of your handicap. In the gross competition, Metro New York’s Mike Pizza made a late charge to better his team score with Nashville’s Steve Reigle, breaking them out of a 5-way tie to finish at +4 and secure the victory. In the net game, Nashville’s Steve Reigle and Columbus’ Robert Lawless shot a best ball net 62 on Saturday at the Meadow Valleys. They followed that up with a net 65 on Sunday at the Straits to secure a 4 shot victory over Carolina Triad’s Ivan Jones and Robert Lawless.
The next APT National Major is the Senior Major at Black Creek Golf Club/Lookout Mountain GC in Chattanooga, TN. The event is open to all APT members 50+. Registration is now open. The APT Players Championship at Troon North in Scottsdale, AZ over Labor Day Weekend is also starting to fill up so don’t miss your next chance to earn a priority exemption into Pinehurst!