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Golf: John Flanagan holds it together for first Gary Amateur title

John Flanagan tees off 18th hole Flanagan went take 1st place with 2 day score 140 South GleasPark Golf Course

John Flanagan tees off on the 18th hole, Flanagan went on to take 1st place with 2 day score of 140 at South Gleason Park Golf Course in Gary, IN on Sunday, June 9, 2013. | Jim Karczewski~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 11, 2013 6:41AM



GARY — John Flanagan has the kind of nerves needed for tournament golf. He takes it seriously enough but not too seriously — and he is a solid ball striker under pressure.

Flanagan outdueled a couple of young kids and another grizzled veteran Sunday in the championship round of the Gary Amateur, winning his first Gary Am title in his first try. He shot a 1-over-72 at South Gleason Park, finishing with a two-day total of 140 (2-under par).

Basically, the unflappable Flanagan, who said he hasn’t played much tournament golf, won the tournament when he made five birdies in the first seven holes on Saturday. It was all pretty much a game of chase for the leaders after that and Flanagan was ready for it.

His total never dropped below 2-under par. Tom Zimmerman and Taylor Noel, last year’s champion, finished tied for second at even par. Tyler Nicol finished in third place at 1-over.

“I didn’t do anything stupid,” Flanagan said.

Very true. The only semi-nervous moment for Flanagan, which he was oblivious to, came on No. 16, when Noel, a hole ahead of him, made a 20-footer for birdie on No. 17. That got him to 1-under par.

Flanagan had to navigate a tricky long two-putt across the green on No. 16 and then he figured he had to par out.

He was almost right.

Noel, who was up and down all day, pushed his drive right on No. 18 behind a little shrub. He was able to punch his approach low enough to get the ball on the green, but he missed a short putt for par.

The bogey was typical of the kind of up-and-down day Noel had.

He was hot early, getting it to 3-under par after a miracle chip on No. 6 for birdie. Noel blew his tee shot behind the hole, just in front of the seventh green. He was faced with an impossible shot — a short chip off a bare lie to an elevated pin that was one pace off the green.

Noel took an 8-iron out and bumped his ball into the side of the green. The ball took two hops, started rolling and hit the cup dead center, dropping into the hole after it hit the pin. Noel’s excitement after that shot evaporated slowly when he proceeded to make bogeys on each of the next three holes.

A livid Noel wasn’t happy with his play.

“I was terrible,” he said.

Flanagan, meanwhile, was Flanagan.

He figured he had at least a one stroke lead going into No. 18. He busted a drive that left him 125 yards and then he put his pitching wedge into the last hole about 30 feet from the cup.

He cozied the putt to about two feet for a comfortable par.

“I just wanted to make sure I hit the middle of the green,” he said.

Zimmerman was able to get to 1-under par after he made early birdies on Nos. 2 and 4. But he couldn’t get anything going in terms of birdies after that, aside from one at No. 12.

Flanagan said he really hasn’t played much tournament golf but he plans to play a few more this summer to see if he can keep it going.

Follow Mike Hutton on Twitter @MikeHuttonPT



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