Illinois junior beats Horsfield in final

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (Aug. 6, 2016) — Not until Dylan Meyer, of Evansville, Indiana, stood on the 17th tee box did he let himself think about winning the 114th Western Amateur at Knollwood Club.

Meyer secured the 3-and-1 win Saturday by hitting a 4-iron onto the par-3 green, while Sam Horsfield, of Manchester, England, missed his tee shot to the right. After Horsfield’s third shot — a chip from the left side of the green — sailed past the hole, he conceded Meyer’s par putt.

“There was no point I felt like I had total control, because anything can happen in the championship match,” said Meyer, a junior at Illinois. “Going to 17 tee box, I felt like I had a pretty good chance.”

Meyer’s first lead of the final came with his birdie at the par-5 10th. He stayed in front with a 20-foot par save from the fringe on No. 11. It was one of many lengthy par putts Meyer made during the final match.

“I’m going to short-game-to-death the golf course,” he said. “I was rolling the rock this week, and the putts were falling. It was my week this week with the short game.”

Horsfield, the tournament’s medalist, gained an early advantage with a birdie at No. 2. He extended his lead to 2 up with a par at No. 5. But Meyer saved par from a greenside bunker to win No. 6 and got even with Horsfield with another par at No. 7.

“I didn't play bad at all, and Dylan played great,” said Horsfield, a sophomore at Florida. “It’s a game of inches, and I was close. I had a couple of bad breaks here and there and had a couple of lipped out putts. That’s all it was. ... He played his butt off. Hats off to him for winning. You have to be on top of your game all week, and the best player wins.”

While Horsfield finished 15 under to win the 72-hole stroke-play portion of the tournament by nine shots, Meyer posted rounds of 71-72-70-71 to tie for 12th at even par. He survived a six-player playoff for one of the final five spots into the Sweet 16.

Meyer opened match play with a 1-up win over Michael DeMorat, of Merritt Island, Florida. He defeated Doug Ghim, of Arlington Heights, Illinois, 5 and 4, in the quarterfinals before beating Will Gordon, of Davidson, North Carolina, 4 and 2, in Saturday’s semifinals.

If there was any question to where this victory ranks, Meyer called the Western Amateur win the biggest of his career. His other significant victory came at the 2014 Olympia Fields Country Club/Fighting Illini Invitational his freshman season. Now, Meyer’s name will be forever listed alongside golf greats such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on the Western Golf Association’s George R. Thorne trophy.

“It’s an honor, and I haven’t let it totally sink in yet,” Meyer said. “It’s still kind of brand new.”

Meyer thanked his hometown and its golf courses for putting him in position to compete and win at the highest level of amateur golf.

“I want to give a good shout out to those guys,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the city of Evansville and the support I have back home, this wouldn’t be possible.”