Go for it.
Finding himself in a two-man race for the title of the 65th Illinois Open over the final nine holes at The Glen Club, that’s just what Travis Johns did Wednesday.
“I’m really an aggressive player and I wanted to finish up well,” said Johns, who bogeyed the final two holes and came up one stroke short of Lake Forest pro Brad Hopfinger.
“I went down in style, though.”
An Australian native who lives in Oswego and works as a teaching pro at Medinah Country Club, Johns, 36, started the day alone in second at 6-under par and finished there with a 5-under total of 211 after shooting 73 (+1).
Hopfinger, 26, is a University of Iowa graduate who has been beating the bushes in lower level tours the past three years in his bid to make it to the PGA Tour.
He started the day tied for third at 5-under and shot 1-under 71 to give him 210 (-6). His was one of only three subpar rounds as scores climbed in the gusting north wind.
Second-round leader Brian Bullington of Frankfort, who plays at Iowa, ballooned to 83 and finished tied for 16th.
Hopfinger won a career-best check for $13,500 and Johns earned $8,500.
First-round leader Michael Davan tied for the best round of the day from among 57 finalists, his 2-under 70 giving him third place at 212 and $7,000.
“This win give me a little motivation and lets me know I’m working on the right stuff going forward,” said Hopfinger, who became the sixth player to claim both Illinois Open and State Amateur titles.
Wisconsin junior Thomas O’Bryan of Aurora finished 10th at 217 (+1) after shooting 73. Amateur John Wright and Bryce Emory, both of Aurora, tied for 43rd and 54th, respectively.
O’Bryan, like all top 20 finishers, will be exempt into next year’s event.
Eric Winters led Elgin area finishers, tying for 32nd at 226 (+10). Matthew Weber of St. Charles tied for 43rd and Bartlett’s Dan Scardina tied for 52nd.
Naperville’s Raymond Knoll, winner of last week’s state amateur and another Iowa player, tied for 32nd at 226.
Hopfinger was playing in the next-to-last group, one ahead of Johns, and made the turn at 8-under for a two-shot lead after posting three birdies on the front nine.
Johns, a lefty, chipped in for a birdie 3 on the 12th hole to move into a tie at 7 under but promptly gave it away when he shot double bogey 6 on the 377-yard 13th.
“Probably the largest doo-doo of my life,” the Johns said. “I hit a great tee shot that was sitting perfect, 72 yards to the middle (of the green) and 81 to the flag. Then I hit a good shot but it went seven yards too long, went off the back and down in the garbage.
“I don’t mind hitting bad shots, but I do mind making bad decisions.”
Two straight birdies allowed him to draw even but then came a bogey on 17, a par 3, when he missed a tricky downhill putt. He was unaware, however, that Hopfinger’s approach to the 18th green was plugged in a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey 6.
“I figured I had to play for birdie (after the bogey on 17),” Johns said.
“I knew I had a shot but totally came over it and pulled it right into more garbage and we lost it.
“I was hitting it everywhere on the back nine. I was having fun and it was entertaining, but I was hitting it everywhere.”
1. Brad Hopfinger, Lake Forest, 68-71-71 — 210 (-6)
2. Travis Johns, Oswego, 72-66-73 — 211 (-5)
3. Michael Davan, Hoopeston, 66-76-70 —212 (-4)
4. Kyle English, Bloomington, 71-68-75 —214 (-2)
T5. Michael Smith, Chicago, 73-72-71 — 216 (E)
T5. Brian Payne (a), Flossmoor, 75-69-72 — 216 (E)
T5. Eric Meierdierks, Wilmette, 72-71-73 — 216 (E)
T5. Daniel Stringfellow (a), Roselle, 70-69-77 — 216 (E)
T5. Michael Schachner, Libertyville, 68-72-76 — 216 (E)
10. Thomas O’Bryan (a), Aurora, 69-75-73 — 217 (+1)
Other area scores:16T. Brian Bullington, Frankfort 70-67-83 — 220 (+4) 32T. Eric Winters (a), Elgin 73-75-78 — 226 (+10) 32T. Raymond Knoll (a) Naperville 74-69-83 — 226 (+10) 43T.Matthew Weber (a), St. Charles 75-73-80 — 228 (+12) T43. John Wright (a), Aurora 76-73-79 — 228 (+12) T52. Dan Scardina, Bartlett 74-74-81 — 229 (+13) T54. Bryce Emory, Aurora 69-77-85 — 231 (+15)