Expect anything less?
The 35th Iowa Mid-Amateur at Sunnyside Country Club lived up to the hype this week. Several, up to a dozen at one time on Friday, had their chance to put their name on the trophy. In the end a four-time winner added his name for the fifth time – but he even admitted he didn’t expect that outcome.
Gene Elliott (pictured above), 58, who won the Iowa Mid-Amateur in 1998, 2000, 2009 and 2013, needed a low round on Friday in the final round. He got one.
Elliott, of West Des Moines, fired the Mid-Am Division co-low round of the day with 67 (-5) to win the championship by a shot over Ankeny’s Andrew Huseman, who just turned 25 earlier this year. Elliott’s round included five birdies against not a single bogey – a clean card.
“I had a target score of 65, 66,” Elliott said. “I thought if I shot that today, I might have a chance. My round yesterday, 75, it was a tough day with the wind. I thought I was just a little too far back.”
Windy it was on Thursday, no doubt, but Friday’s round still presented some challenges according to Elliott.
“It was windy early on today,” Elliott said. “I putted well and got it up and down a couple times.”
Even with five Iowa Mid-Amateur titles to his credit, Elliott was the first to admit he didn’t expect the outcome.
“I wasn’t expecting this today,” Elliott said of his victory. “I can tell you that for sure. I knew I was close (to the lead today). I looked (at scores) after the 10th hole to see where I was. It was a logjam. There was a dozen guys who could win. I knew if I could make that putt (on #17), I had a chance.”
His putt, set up by a terrific tee shot on the 17th hole, was one of his best, ever, Elliott commented. When the dust had settled, it was a putt he needed.
“I tell you what, that putt is one of the best putts I have hit in my entire life,” Elliott said. “That putt was on such a good line. I couldn’t believe how good that putt looked the whole way. A lot of times you hit a putt like that and it doesn’t go in, but this one went right in the middle.”
A trio of players finished the championship at 144 (E), two shots behind Elliott. They included Ankey’s Connor Peck and Jon Olson, who both have had stellar 2020 campaigns, along with newly-minted mid-amateur Kacie Broeg, of Burlington.
In the Senior Division, Des Moines’ Tony Newkirk found a little something the final round as well, posting a 65 (-7) to win by three over West Des Moines’ Bob Brooks and Ankeny’s Curtis Holck. Newkirk’s round included six birdies, an eagle and only one bogey.
In the Super Senior Division, Marshalltown’s Pat Ryan cruised to the victory by six shots, shooting 69 (-3) in the final round to outdistance runner-up Jim Butler. Butler turned a nice round himself on Friday, posting 68 (-4).