With three grueling days of demanding golf behind him, Dusty Drenth could finally exhale a little it.
And thanks to a Top 5 finish in the 118th Iowa Amateur tucked away safely, the 32-year-old could also muster a smile.
“If you had told me going in that I would get fifth place, I’m not saying I’d take it. … I try to win every tournament I play in,” said Drenth, showing his competitive nature. "But it was a good week."
Coming into Wednesday’s final round at Davenport Country Club tied for eighth, Drenth did his best to put pressure on the leaders. But his final round of even-par 70 wasn’t enough to catch wire-to-wire leader Dennis Bull, who shot his third straight round in the 60s to secure his first Iowa Am title.
Drenth (69-74-70-213) was the top local finisher.
However, Bull might try to even stake a claim to that honor. The 38-year-old from Fairbury, Ill., lived in the Quad-Cities from 2007-11 when he worked for Exelon. While here, he also worked at DCC and won the Short Hills Amateur, an event on the Quad-Cities Amateur Tour.
“I like it here in the Quad-Cities,” said Bull, who is now located in the Des Moines area and working for Wells Fargo. He stayed with longtime friend Ben Hanson and his family.
Bull was the only player in the field to card three rounds in the 60s, capping his tourney effort with a final-round 69 thanks to a curling 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Bull’s 203 total came via rounds of 65-69-69.
Runner-up Connor Peck of Ankeny was the only other golfer in the final field of 61 to finish under par for the tournament thanks to rounds of 71-68-70 for a 1-under 209 total.
There were only three sub-par rounds on Wednesday, with the other two by golfers from Adel, Iowa — Jon Brown (75-71-68—214, T7) and Derrick Livingston (75-75-66—216, T10).
Bettendorf resident Erron Vandemore was battling all day for a Top 25 finish but missed that by a stroke. He finished T27, shooting a 74-73-75—222.
Davenport’s Kyle Yerington, playing in his first Iowa Golf Association event, tied for 42nd with a 78-72-77—227.
Other locals playing in the final round were Tim Flanagan, Bettendorf, (77-77-75—229, T47), Cody Flatt, Bettendorf, (79-73-77—229, T47), Matt Schlueter, Davenport, (78-74-77—229, T47), Adam Seitz, Bettendorf, (72-81-77—230, T50), Peter Strothkamp, Bettendorf, (80-69-82—231, T50), and Marshal Lamb, Davenport (79-74-84—237, T60).
Vandemore, a 24-year-old Pleasant Valley High School and Dayton University grad, played even on his outward nine with two birdies and two bogeys.
“There’s a lot of positive takeaways from the week,” said Vandemore, who was upset with a closing nine of 39 on his home course.
Not playing much golf, let alone tournament-caliber golf, allowed Vandemore to have an optimistic outlook.
“I can’t really expect much,” he said of his game. “If this tournament wasn’t at DCC, I don’t know if I would have done it. I actually had a co-worker talk me into signing up and I’m glad I did.”
For Drenth, a top finish is almost always expected as he has battled for previous state am titles. However, he noted this was only his second competitive tournament of the summer.
“This was just different,” he said. “Usually by now, I’m in prime shape. My game is in good shape, but as far as tournament nerves, it’s a little different.”
A 400-plus-yard drive on the par-5 second hole ran out into a hazard and cost him a bogey, and a wayward tee ball on No. 7 led to a double in a 2-over opening nine of 38.
He had three birdies on the back nine until a flyer on his approach at 18 flew the green and cost him a bogey for an inward 32.
“I’m happy with how I battled back on the back 9,” he said. “I hit some good shots and made some putts.”
It just turned out that Bull was able to do that as well. He made just seven bogeys in the tournament and nothing worse than that as he managed his game well.
“You have sand wedge in your hand to some flags out here — or wedge or short irons,” said Bull. “There are some pins you just can’t go at and have to miss to the wide side of the green. I felt like I did that pretty well this week.
“Also, if you drive it well, it makes a big difference here because it matters where you’re coming in from on a lot of these greens.”
In Wednesday’s final round, Bull birdied holes nine and 13 but gave those strokes back with bogeys on 10 and 14. He then played the 18th perfectly for his tournament-capping birdie.
While having had the chance to play the course when he worked at DCC, Bull said he had only played it once since he left, that in a U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier a couple of years ago.
“Having a little bit of course knowledge out here is certainly a plus,” said Bull, who lamented a number of three-putts during the week. “There are some spots you just don’t want to get in because it’s tough to get up and down or two-putt from some spots, which is beneficial.”
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