Brendon Doyle Takes One-Stroke Lead into Final Round of 102nd Kentucky Open
LOUISVILLE, KY (July 28, 2021) – Just like it was after the first round, the top two names on the leaderboard of the 102nd Kentucky Open following two rounds of play are Brendon Doyle and Clay Amlung. The difference this time is that rather than the two of them being tied for the lead like they were after Tuesday’s play, Doyle finds himself one stroke ahead of Amlung to own the lead entering the final round at Persimmon Ridge Golf Club.
Doyle shot 69 (-3) on Wednesday to follow his 65 (-7) in the opening round. That gives him a total score of 134 (-10), making him the only player to hit double-digits under par thus far. An opening nine of 35 (-1) that was consistent in the form of just one birdie and eight pars gave way to a more adventurous back nine, where the leader recorded four birdies, three bogeys and just two pars. Ranked 870th in the OWGR, the Louisville native has put himself in the driver’s seat to win what would be the biggest tournament of his career and to join his grandfather Moe Demling as a Kentucky Open champion fifty years after Demling won. Should Doyle win on Thursday, it would be believed to be first time in championship history that a father or grandfather and their son or grandson have both won the State Open.
“Winning tomorrow would mean a lot to me,” Doyle said. “The Kentucky Open is a tournament I’ve wanted to win as a kid and my grandfather won it in 1971. It would be a big deal, but I can’t look too far ahead. I’ve hit a lot of fairways and greens that have gotten me to this point; I think I’ve only hit two drivers in two rounds so far and a lot of two-irons off the tee. I just have to keep playing smart the rest of the way.”
Amlung, who finds himself a shot back of Doyle, was one of the last players to make it into the field after getting the call to join as an alternate on Monday afternoon. Needless to say, he has taken advantage of the opportunity and leads the field’s amateur contingent with his total score of 135 (-9). Starting his second round on the 10th, Amlung got out of the gates slow with an outward nine of 38 (+2) but stormed back on holes 1-9 with a score of 32 (-4) to bring himself back into serious contention for the title. The experience to be playing in this championship to begin with, let alone at a high level, has Amlung in high spirits approaching the final round.
“I had been dealing with a hand injury for the last couple of weeks and the qualifier at Nevel Meade was the first golf I played in two weeks,” Amlung stated. “I played like crap there and I didn’t play well enough in the member qualifier at Persimmon Ridge either, so it was just nice to get that phone call and finally get in and fortunately I’ve taken advantage. The experience tomorrow of playing in the final group of the State Open with many of the best players in the state contending should be amazing. It will be a lot of fun and winning this championship would mean everything to me. With how much I’ve struggled with injuries these last couple months, it would be a great way to close out the summer with a win at my home club before I start the new college season with Cincinnati.”
The final member of their group on Thursday will be J.B. Williams, the two-time defending champion of the Kentucky Open who would be the first player to ever win this championship three consecutive years. He is in third place, two strokes behind Doyle with a score of 136 (-8). Two rounds of 68 (-4) have gotten him to this point and he finds himself with the opportunity to make history on Thursday.
“Winning the Kentucky Open for a third straight time is at the forefront,” Williams said earlier this month when he made a guest appearance on Golf Pod Kentucky presented by TaylorMade. “That’s definitely the big goal and focus of mine right now and I sure would like to have that trophy for one more year.”
Solo fourth place and solo fifth place are occupied by Cooper Collins and Grover Justice, respectively. Collins, who had a runner-up finish in the Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky Amateur last month is once again near the top of a Golf House Kentucky leaderboard. Justice, who was low amateur in the State Open in 1997 and lodged runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2007 as well, is amongst the lead pack once again and leads the group of Kentucky PGA Professionals teeing it up this week.
A five-way tie for sixth place follows, with Dustin Denzik, Kyle Wilshire, Jacob Cook, Kent Bulle, and Patrick Newcomb all five shots behind Doyle at 139 (-5). With ten players within five shots of the lead and more good weather forecasted for the final round, it seems promising that Thursday’s finish could be one of the most exciting in Kentucky Open history.
NOTES & STATS
- Upon further review, the first-round scores of 65 (-7) that were shot by Doyle and Amlung was determined to have tied the course record at Persimmon Ridge, not broken it as had been stated on Tuesday.
- The championship has been cut to the top seventy players and ties for Thursday’s final round. Seventy-four players have advanced for the last day of the championship, with +8 being the number necessary to qualify.
- Steve Cox, who first competed in the Kentucky Open in 1976, announced this would be the final appearance he makes in the State Open. He made par on his final hole to end his Kentucky Open history in style.
- The low score of the second round was 68 (-4). Past champions J.B. Williams and Ashton Van Horne along with Kyle Alexander each recorded that mark.
- Six eagles were made on Wednesday, half of which came on the par-five 15th. Dustin Denzik and Trey Lewis each holed out on the par-four 2nd for the only eagles to come on holes not playing as a par-five.
- The par-three 12th was the hardest hole on Wednesday. A tucked hole location on the left side near the water gave many players trouble as it featured a stroke-to-par average of +0.57, however, there were still a dozen birdies made on it.
- The par-five 15th was the easiest hole of the second round after playing as the second-most easy hole on Tuesday. Forty-nine birdies plus the three eagles mentioned above were recorded here on Wednesday.
- Persimmon Ridge played slightly harder on average in round two compared to round one, with the scoring average increasing 0.68 strokes to 76.68.
Golf House Kentucky will continue to have full coverage of this year’s championship on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. When the final group reaches the 18th hole of Thursday's final round, a live-stream will be shown on Facebook. Should a playoff be necessary, that will also be live-streamed. Spectators are welcome to attend the championship free of charge.