It was 1975 when Scott Steger won his first and only State Amateur Championship. Now, 35 years later, his son Eric has followed in his foot steps and won the most prestigious amateur event in Indiana in his final summer season before turning professional. “It was a lot of fun to watch. I’m glad I could get out here,” said Scott, a busy PGA Professional at Pebble Brook Golf Course.
Eric started the day at Country Club of Indianapolis at 1-under-par 209 and three shots off the lead held by Brad Gehl, who tied Country Club of Indianapolis’ course record in the third round at 63. “I held it together out there. I let a couple holes slip away, but then I made two good birdies and going into 18 I knew I still had control of the tournament,” said Steger. He did have control over it at 3-under-par, but defending champion Erik Barnes was in the group behind him only one shot back heading to the 18th tee. After driving the ball just short and left of the green at the final hole, he left himself a tough chip from the deep rough. But he executed and converted the up-and-down for birdie to force a playoff.
Steger and Barnes went back to the first tee to vie for the title. Barnes hit first and drove into the right rough. “I was lucky to hit second in the playoff. I saw him hit into the trees, so I aggressively hit my driver down the left side,” said Steger. He found himself 124 yards out, took a solid, aggressive swing at a gap wedge, and landed his approach four feet from the pin. Barnes’ approach went to the opposite side of the green, but only missed the putt by mere inches to put the pressure on Steger. Steger’s impressive putting ability came through and ended the playoff at the first hole. “My hat goes off to Eric,” said Barnes, who will now turn professional. His professional debut will be at the Indiana Open and then the road will continue in Iowa at the Waterloo Open before heading down to Florida for Q-School.
156 of the state’s best amateurs qualified for the 72-hole
event, and 63 made the cut at 149 or better on Thursday. The event was
scheduled to conclude on Thursday afternoon, but due to heavy rains and
thunderstorms throughout the week, the final round was postponed until Friday,
causing some of the players who made the cut to make a tough decision. The USGA
Public Links qualifier was held at Purgatory on Friday as well, and many of the
players in contention for the State Am title were forced to choose where to play.
“I called my coach [Mike Fleck] last night for his opinion, and he said to give
myself a shot at the State Am. My gut was telling me to go to Purgatory,”
explained Steger. “It was a tough decision, but it paid off.” It showed he was
happy with his decision when he summed up his feelings about winning his first
State Am in one word – “Awesome.”
See complete results here.