Noah Gillard went into the final round of the IGA Indiana State Amateur at Sycamore Hills Golf Club one shot behind Joe Weiler, the leader at the time, who was at 3-under-par for the tournament. Being behind the leader, however, did not phase the defending champion.
“Joe Weiler is a beast, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy out there going into today’s round," Gillard said. “Last year I was two shots back going into the last round, so I was kind of more comfortable being in that spot this year.”
This security was easy to see on Gillard’s front nine. Gillard made five birdies on the first nine to shoot a four-under-par, 32. Adam Bratton was able to put a little pressure on Gillard, however, and stay within one shot of him the whole front nine, once even taking a share of the lead.
Gillard continued to play solidly on the back nine and pull away from Bratton, even with rain popping up on the radar. By the time they reached the par-5, 15th, a short rain delay was called. After this rain delay, however, Gillard sunk a birdie putt on the 15th to move to 7-under-par for the tournament and extend his lead by four shots over Bratton.
Shortly after play restarted, another short rain delay was called, certainly testing Gillard’s mental toughness.
After the second rain delay, Gillard double-bogeyed the par-4, 16th to reduce his lead to two shots over Bratton.
“I doubled 16, and I wasn’t really nervous, but it definitely got my attention,” Gillard said. “On 17 I knew I definitely had to regroup, take a deep breath and tell myself that if I went par, par I’d be in good shape.”
Gillard proceeded to make a 9-foot putt on the par-4, 17th to save par. Bratton finished with a bogey on the par-4, 18th, so Gillard’s lead was extended to three shots going into his last hole.
“I saw on the leaderboard that I was three shots ahead going into the last hole, but it didn’t really change my game plan,” Gillard said. “It definitely gave me a sense of security, though.”
Gillard two-putted for par on the par-4, 18th to shoot a final round score of three-under-par, 69 and finish at five-under-par for the tournament. The round was good enough to defeat Bratton by three shots and win the State Am for the second year in a row. This was the first time any player has ever had back-to-back wins in the State Am since 2003-2004 when Jeff Overton accomplished it.
“This win means the world to me," Gillard said. “Being in the same conversation as Jeff Overton is pretty cool, especially since I’m going to IU also.”
Gillard will be transferring to Indiana University this fall and will be a member of the men’s golf team.
“I am so excited to continue my academic and golf career at IU,” Gillard said. “I’m extremely grateful that Coach Mayer welcomed me with open arms when I entered the transfer portal, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a Hoosier.”