posttrib
ANNOYING 
Weather Updates

VU golfer Eric Winters dethrones brother to win Elgin Open

Updated: August 30, 2013 6:57AM



ELGIN, Ill. — Eric Winters saw to it that the Elgin Open championship will be staying in the family for another year.

Winters played a bogey-free back nine Sunday on his way to a 2-over 74 in the final round to hold off older brother Brad Winters by four strokes and capture the city title with a 5-over 149 total for the 36-hole tournament at The Highlands of Elgin.

The one-two finish for the Winters brothers marks a reversal from 2012 when Brad won the championship and Eric finished second. This time it was the 20-year-old Eric who finished on top in a sibling showdown between a pair of St. Edward graduates who were teammates on the Valparaiso men’s golf team the past two years.

“It’s great that we could switch roles from last year,” Eric Winters said. “I guess I have bragging rights for the next year.”

First-round leader Nick Feinberg finished in a four-way tie for third with Jeff Lange, Casey Schneider and Mike Rodriguez at 13-over par. Feinberg, Lange and Schneider went off in the final group but all posted final-round scores in the 80s, leaving the Winters brothers to duke it out in the second-to-last group off the tee.

A double bogey at the par-4 ninth hole dropped Eric Winters into a tie with his brother going into the back nine, but he regained the upper hand when he hit a wedge into the par-5 12th green and sank a 15-foot birdie putt.

The gap widened to two strokes when Brad Winters three-putted the 13th green for bogey, and Eric maintained his cushion by making all pars on his final six holes.

“On the back nine I just played really good golf,” Eric Winters said. “I hit eight of nine greens and made one birdie and eight pars. I was hitting really good shots.”

The Winters brothers both played key roles in helping Valparaiso capture the Horizon League Tournament championship and earn a berth in an NCAA Regional in Columbus, Ohio last spring.

Eric Winters will be a junior with the Crusaders this coming year, but Brad’s college playing days are over after graduating in May. Brad now works at Northern Trust in Chicago, which left his game less polished than usual entering the tournament.

“I was hitting the ball great but I just could not make a putt at all,” Brad Winters said. “Basically the difference between winning and taking second place was I couldn’t get anything in the hole and (Eric) made some clutch putts down the stretch.”

Eric Winters began the day tied for third and two strokes behind Feinberg, who lives in New York and was playing in the tournament for the first time. Lange, a three-time Elgin Open champion, started the day in second and one stroke off the lead, but a quadruple-bogey eight at the ninth hole derailed his round as he and Feinberg struggled with the windy and cool conditions while playing in the final group.

“The course played tough with the wind and some difficult pins,” Lange said. “When you start playing bad and have some bad holes you lose your concentration, and that’s what happened to me after the ninth hole.”

Eric Winters is the fourth first-time winner of the Elgin Open in the past five years. While Brad Winters came up short in the defense of his title after a final-round 77, he had no hard feelings about the final result.

“It’s nice to keep the championship in the family” Brad Winters said. “It’s better to lose to my brother than someone else.”



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.