SKOKIE, Ill. (Thursday, June 21) – Jeff Doty, of Carmel, Indiana, wasn’t feeling good about his game leading up to the 101st Western Junior.
But something clicked while working on it at home, and he found his form at the 6,793-yard, par-70 Evanston Golf Club to win the country’s oldest junior golf championship.
After heavy rain forced tournament officials to cancel Thursday’s final two rounds, Doty earned the title by virtue of his 36-hole lead. An incoming sophomore at North Florida, he carded rounds of 69-64 to finish 7 under and clip Karl Vilips, of Perth, Australia, by one stroke.
“This is No. 1 for me,” Doty said when asked where the Western Junior ranks among his accomplishments. “This is the top of the line.”
Doty said he was looking forward to a difficult day on the golf course and never considered the tournament might be shortened. All the groups played at least three holes before the third round was suspended at 9:14 a.m. Officials called it quits at 4:45 p.m.
“I like hard conditions, and I thought the challenge will be good,” he said. “Canceling the day doesn’t really cross your mind.”
A win Thursday would have raised the already high profile of Vilips, a Stanford verbal commit who entered the week as the No. 1 player in the AJGA Rolex Rankings. Instead, Vilips, who shot 66-68, had to settle for his second runner-up finish in a row at the Western Junior.
Doty joins an elite list of Western Junior winners that features PGA TOUR stars Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar are past participants of the tournament.
Other highlights this week included Will Thomson, of Naples, Florida, establishing the amateur competitive course record with a 7-under 63 on Wednesday, and Jake Beber-Frankel, of Miami, Florida, hitting a hole-in-one on the 202-yard, par-3 fourth during the second round.
The win earned Doty an exemption into the Western Amateur, which will be contested July 30-August 4 at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Illinois. Vilips also is in the field.
- Matt Harness/WGA