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Clouser Challenges, but Hometown Favorite Duncan Amateur Champ

June 23rd, 2011

With one of the largest spectator crowds ever at an IGA event intently following, Columbus’ Tyler Duncan pleased his hometown fans by winning his first Indiana State Amateur Championship at his home course, Otter Creek GC. “It was great winning in front of everyone,” said Duncan. “Their cheering and support was great.” The numerous fans who followed him around all day expected the victory, as he had a five-shot lead at the turn. But McCormick Clouser made a run at it on the front nine, making three birdies to get down to 1-over while Duncan was hanging on to 4-under.

Duncan started the day with the lead at 70-67-75=212 (-4). He managed even par for the front, but the very beginning of the round didn’t look promising. A pulled drive off the first tee into the trees was followed by a missed short birdie putt on 2. “I played solid on the front nine, except for my putt on 2. But I was committed to not doing that again.” And he didn’t. At the 5th hole, he sunk a 15-footer for his first birdie of the day. And on the back nine at the 12th he dropped a 20-foot putt for his only birdie on the back.

Clouser made one more birdie on the back to finish even for the championship with rounds of 69-76-74-69=288. As he signed his scorecard, Duncan stepped up to the 18th tee with a 2-shot lead. His approach shot got caught in the rough and stayed short of the green. In reference to his chip, Duncan said, “I was trying to make it, you are always trying to make it, but I didn’t want it to go too far by and leave myself a tester on the way back.” He easily 2-putted for the victory. “This was one of the tournaments I wanted to win the most,” he said graciously.

Following checking this event off his list of ‘to-win’s’, his next move is to prepare for some national tournaments. “I have three other good tournaments to get ready for after this,” he said. He will then return to Purdue for one more year of collegiate golf. After that? “I do plan to play professional golf one day.”

If he follows through with his plan to play professional golf, he will forego the opportunity to join the legendary ranks of Randy Nichols and Kent Frandsen, whose accomplishments were celebrated this week. For Nichols, this year marked his 40th consecutive cut made at a State Amateur. “That is awesome! I have played with Randy a couple times. That is just a lot of times in this event!” said Duncan. And for Frandsen, this year’s championship at Otter Creek marked the 37th anniversary of when he set the tournament record at this very same course in 1974 that still stands today. He also won two more in 1979 and 1984. Longtime fellow competitor Skip Runnels said, “He was the standard by which we all compared ourselves and for the most part none of us were very successful. I remember following his final day groupings during his wins at the State Am and I was always awed by his ability. He never missed fairways, never missed greens and during his record breaking win never missed putts. He always seemed in control of his emotions and always conducted himself with high character.”

Finishing third was Corey Ziedonis (71-72-73-74) and in fourth was Adam Schenk (74-72-71-74). Tyler Merkel (71-73-75-73), Aaron Monson (69-75-73-75) and Tony Lazzara (68-72-74-78) finished tied in fifth. See complete results here.