Hilliard’s Lee wins 109th Ohio Amateur in playoff


Associated Press

ZANESVILLE

Even though Joo-Young Lee knew he could two-putt to win the 109th Ohio Amateur Championship, that didn’t make it any easier or the cup any bigger.

Lee, of Hilliard, then birdied the first playoff hole to beat Dublin’s Jared Howard on Friday at the Zanesville Golf Club.

“I was really nervous and my hands were shaking so hard,” Lee said. “I thought I left it short but it went in.”

Lee, a junior golfer at Northern Illinois, trailed Howard and three other co-leaders by four strokes entering the final round but shot a 4-under-par 68 to finish with a 4-under total of 284.

He nearly shot himself out of contention in the third round with a 75, but birdied the third and fourth holes Friday and had five birdies and a bogey for the round.

“My ball striking was better for sure and I got more confident as the round went on,” Lee said. “I made a few early birdies.”

North Lima’s Brandon Pluchinsky, a member of the Youngstown State University golf team, shot 289 to finish 11th.

Howard, who completed his senior golf season at Cincinnati in the fall, made a 6-foot par putt on the 18th to complete an even-par 72 round but rued his play on the greens.

“I was making par putts, I just didn’t make any birdies,” he said. He made two birdies in the round after having 11 during the first three days.

“Down the stretch I did what needed to do,” Howard said. “[Lee] made a good birdie on the playoff hole. I tip my hat to him.”

In the playoff on the par-3 18th, Howard left his first shot about 25 feet to the right of the pin while Lee’s shot landed 3 feet above the hole.

“I just wanted to get the shot over with as quick as I could,” Lee said. “I hit it and it got close. I’m very happy with that.”

After Howard rolled his first putt 5 feet past the hole, he missed the putt for par. Lee made his birdie attempt.

Clark Engle of Springfield finished third, one shot back.

Lee tied Chase Johnson of Barberton for the lowest score of the final round. Johnson birdied four of the final six holes to finish two strokes back in fourth place with a 286.

Two-time defending champion Andrew Dorn of Springfield shot a final-round 71 and tied for eighth at five-over 289.

The Ohio Amateur had a field of 144 from six regional qualifiers and the host club. It was trimmed to the low 67 players after the second round and cut to 40 for the final round.

Past winners include Arnold Palmer and 2003 British Open champion Ben Curtis.

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