At 26, Keith Blythe captured the 2000 Indiana PGA Northern and Southern titles becoming, at that time, just the second player to accomplish the feat. 17 years later, and now 43, Blythe captured his third Indiana Golf win at the IGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Tippecanoe Lake C.C. “It feels great,” said Blythe. “It’s been a long time since I’ve won anything outside of a local event or club event. It was shortly after those couple of wins, so it’s been a long time.”
Blythe grabbed a 1-shot lead over Jeffrey Mayer following a bogey-free opening round of 5-under-par 65. Blythe and Mayer were joined in the final round pairing with Terry Werner and Todd Palmer who were both two shots back. It was a rocky start for the final group as they were a combined 7-over through the first three holes. By that time, Blythe had dropped two shots and found himself tied with Werner.
“The golf course is perfect, it just couldn’t have been any better,” said Blythe of the scoring conditions to start. “We didn’t have much wind so I was expecting the scores to be low again today. I had the game plan of just trying to make birdies.” After the rough start, Blythe started to execute the game plan with birdies on three of his next four holes to regain the lead outright. Blythe gave one back with a bogey at the 8th
, but made the turn leading Werner by a shot.
Werner, the reigning IGA Senior Player of the Year, still had a run left and after knocking his tee shot close on the long par-3 12th
and converting birdie, he birdied the short par-5 13th
to take his first solo lead of the tournament. After just narrowly missing a third birdie in a row on 14, it looked as if Werner had taken some control.
Despite losing his lead for the first time, Blythe remained calm and drew on something that he had been carrying with him throughout the round. “I felt pretty comfortable all day. I don’t know why because I haven’t been in this situation that much lately,” Blythe said as a noticeable emotion came across him. “The only thing I can think of,” he continued, “a good golf buddy of mine passed away last week and Wednesday night they had the funeral and viewing and a lot of people got together and told a lot of stories. Just thinking about that the last couple of days really gave me a calmness that I haven’t had before playing with the lead. It pretty much stayed with me.”
With that calmness upon him, Blythe focused on himself despite Werner’s run. “I knew that the last four holes out here anything can happen,” Blythe said of the finishing stretch. “I tried to just stay patient and giving myself chances and not make a mistake that would pretty much end the tournament for me and I think I did a good job of that, of just trying to stay in the present.”
Blythe was able to make his first birdie of the back-9 on the 17th,
which coupled with a Werner bogey, gave him a 1-shot lead heading to the difficult 18th
. Blythe’s approach shot just missed the green, and Werner, forced into playing an aggressive second, caught the right side trees before playing his third shot about 20 feet left of the hole. Knowing that and up-and-down par would be enough for the victory, Blythe played a perfect chip from the greenside rough to within a couple feet of the hole to seal the win with a 6-under-par total.
Werner’s final hole dropped him into a tie for second with Brian Harris at 3-under, with Kenny Cook fourth a shot back of them. Kent Frandsen and Mayer rounded at the top-5, both finishing at 1-under for the tournament.