GLENVIEW, Ill. – Playing in the state’s premier event for the first time ever, Max Scodro showed no signs of inexperience, winning the 63rd Illinois Open title in historic fashion.
Scodro, a Chicago native, made par on the fifth playoff hole (No. 18) and knocked off 2010 Illinois Open Champion Eric Meierdierks of Wilmette.
After Meierdierks missed a 15-foot putt from the fringe to save par on the fifth playoff hole, Scodro was able to safely two-putt from 10 feet for the win.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock,” said Scodro, unable to wipe the smile from his face. “This has been an invaluable experience, that’s for sure.”
Since graduating in May from the University of Notre Dame, Scodro, 22, has played in three professional tournaments, winning two of them.
Scodro also won the Arizona Open just over a month ago at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club. He collected a hefty $17,000 first place check for the Illinois Open victory and won $7,500 for his win in Arizona.
“Maybe I’ll need to get a house somewhere else,” Scodro said jokingly about his success in state tournaments. “I just can’t believe it.”
Clinging to a one-stroke lead heading into the par-5 18th hole, Meierdierks had a look at the green in two shots, but chose to lay up and let Scodro try to make a birdie to force extra holes.
“I could have pulled that shot off probably, but in that situation he has to take it from me and push the playoff,” Meierdierks said. “I have no remorse.”
Scodro took advantage of Meierdierks’ conservative strategy and sank a 12-foot birdie putt after Meierdierks played in for his par.
“I have had my fair share of trouble with the 18th actually,” Scodro said. “Today I wanted it really bad, I knew I wasn’t going to leave (the putt) short and when I saw it go in I just couldn’t believe it. I had good feelings going into the playoff after that.”
Scodro fired a 3-under par 69 and Meierdierks posted a 2-under-par 70, which knotted the two individuals at -10 heading into the playoff.
Meierdierks, 27, was looking for his second Illinois Open victory in the past three years. In 2010, he defeated Luke Guthrie by one stroke at Hawthorn Woods Country Club. This time around he wasn’t as fortunate and let a few shots get away down the stretch.
In extra holes, the players traded birdies on Hole No. 1 and each made par on No. 17 and No. 18, forcing sudden death after the initial three-hole aggregate playoff format. Heading back to No. 18, Meierdierks nearly took home the hardware on the 4th playoff hole, but lipped out a 10-foot putt for birdie.
“I thought I hit a good putt, but it didn’t fall for me,” Meierdierks said. “That’s golf.”
On the final playoff hole, Meierdierks hooked his drive into the fescue and was unable to cleanly punch out. He eventually reached the fringe around the green on his fourth shot, but was unable to salvage par.
At one point during the day, Meierdierks held a 3-shot lead over Scodro through eight holes. He then proceeded to bogey three straight holes, giving Scodro a one-stroke lead for the first time in the final round.
“He was playing great,” Scodro said about Meierdierks’ start to the final round. “I said ‘if he’s going to keep playing like this he’s a worthy champion.’ Luckily he cooled down a little bit.”
Due to inclement weather, final round play was suspended early on for one hour and 50 minutes. The final pairing of Scodro, Meierdierks, and Travis Johns teed off at 10:50 a.m.
Johns finished the tournament at 7-under, tied for second with Carlos Sainz Jr. of Elgin and low amateur Brett Tomfohrde of Hinsdale.
Defending champion Philip Arouca finished at 6-under in a tie for sixth place.