LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Press Release) – J.B. Williams is now the eighth player to have won the Kentucky Open at least three times. He is, however, the first one to ever win the championship on three consecutive occasions.
On Thursday, Williams made history at Persimmon Ridge Golf Club by once again claiming the State Open to achieve a feat never accomplished before. With it, he joins Al Atkins, Jimmy Ferriell, Larry Gilbert, Bill Kaiser, Ray Ottman, Dave Peege, and Jack Ryan as the only players to have won the Kentucky Open at least three times.
“It feels great and pretty surreal,” Williams said. “It was very much a battle today; neither Clay (Amlung) or Brendon (Doyle) had much give in them today, but my whole goal was to keep my mistakes at a minimum and try to make a few putts. Thankfully, I was able to.”
Williams started the final round in third place, two strokes behind Doyle while Amlung was in second place in between Doyle and Amlung. Williams plotted his way along the opening dozen holes at Persimmon Ridge in -3 while Doyle and Amlung continued to jockey for position at the top with Williams on their heels.
The final threesome then came to the par-four 13th which proved to be a pivotal hole in the championship. With Doyle and Amlung tied for the lead and Williams one stroke behind, Doyle’s tee shot found the water off the tee which led to a triple bogey taking him out of the top spot and forcing him to play catch up the rest of the way. Amlung and Williams made bogey as well on the 13th which brought Justin Warman and Dustin Denzik from several groups up ahead into the mix for first place.
Williams responded with the heart of a champion, however, making back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes which would tie Amlung for the lead entering the final hole of the championship. On the reachable par-five 18th, Williams found the fringe approximately forty feet from the hole while Amlung missed the green left, leaving a tricky pitch for the hometown Persimmon Ridge member to negotiate. Amlung got the ball to twenty feet short of the hole while Williams lagged his eagle putt within a foot of the hole, forcing Amlung to hole his putt for a playoff. The effort looked good the entire way but caught the edge of the hole, leading to a lip-out that would clear the stage for Williams to tap in for birdie, a total score of 203 (-13), a one-stroke win over Amlung, and his third consecutive Kentucky Open.
“I went to the 18th thinking I haven’t had sole possession of the lead once this week, so let’s get it right here,” Williams explained. “That was a big motivator for me and inspired me to hit two quality shots into that green. It just gives me a lot of confidence knowing each time I won this trophy, I did it a different way and on three unique courses with their own set of different traits. In 2019 I had a neck-and-neck battle with Evan Davis during the last few holes, in 2020 I led wire-to-wire, this time I had to come from behind trailing almost the entire way.”
Amlung’s runner-up finish seemed implausible on Monday morning, as he was not even in the field at that point until getting the call to join as an alternate at about 3:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon. His performance earned him the distinction of low amateur, however, and he was the only amateur to finish in the top-five. Doyle finished in third place two strokes behind Williams while Warman and Denzik rounded out the top-five sharing fourth place.
NOTES & STATS
- The low round of the day was 66 (-6). Warman, Matthew Troutman who finished T6, and Hayden Zimmerer who finished T17 each recorded that mark on Thursday.
- Five eagles were made in the final round with two apiece coming on the par-fives 3rd and 18th. The par-four 7th also featured an eagle, which was set up to be drivable for competitors in the final round. Justin Tereshko was the player behind that lone eagle on the 7th.
- The par-four 13th certainly made its presence felt in the final round and it did play as Thursday’s hardest hole. The stroke-to-par average was +0.59.
- Combining all three rounds, it also played as the hardest hole of the championship at +0.47.
- The par-five 18th was the easiest hole of the final round at -0.30.
- Despite that gettable mark, it was the third easiest of the week while the 3rd takes honors as the easiest hole for the championship, averaging -0.05.
- Thursday’s scoring average was 73.31, which was the easiest of the three days albeit with the second-round cut to the top seventy players and ties certainly playing a role in that.
- The third round did play as the only round this week where the back nine’s average score was higher than that of the front nine’s.
- For the week, the scoring average was 75.76.