Tyler Duncan has been playing Otter Creek Golf Course since he was a kid, and he can’t recall it playing any tougher than it did Thursday.
Delicate pin placements and warm weather with little to no rain the past couple of days left golfers finding it harder to score on the final day of the 99th Indiana Open Championship than in the first three rounds.
After being in contention for the title through 54 holes, Duncan struggled to a 4-over-par 76 Thursday. That left the Columbus North and Purdue graduate in a tie for fourth, nine shots behind winner Craig Bowden of Bloomington.
“This is probably one of the toughest setups they’ve had out here,” Duncan said. “They tucked all the pins, and the fairways and greens firmed up a little bit today.”
Duncan entered the final round only two shots behind leader Andy Winings of Fishers and one behind Bowden. But he fell off the pace after a double-bogey on the par-4 No. 4 and couldn’t recover.
“I didn’t drive it well today,” Duncan said. “I put myself in the rough most of the day. I didn’t make any putts, and it’s tough to come from behind when you can’t drive it in the fairway and you can’t make any putts.”
Bowden, a former PGA Tour and Web.com Tour pro, was playing in his first Indiana Open since winning back-to-back titles in 1994-95. He led Winings by two shots with three holes remaining and essentially wrapped up his third crown when he knocked in an 8-iron from 160 yards for an eagle on the par-4 No. 16.
Bowden finished at 270, three shots better than Winings.
“I can’t believe I shot 18-under after really having no expectations,” Bowden said.
McCormick Clouser of Bluffton, who will be a senior at Ball State, finished third at 277. Drew Imel of Bluffton and Duncan, who fired rounds of 67, 69 and 67 the first three rounds, finished at 9-under 279.
“I’m very happy with the way I played the first three days,” Duncan said. “I’m a little disappointed in how I played today, but that’s golf. You learn from it, and you move on.”
Duncan leaves Tuesday for a three-day tournament in Iowa, then will play Monday in a Web.com Tour qualifier in Kansas City. He plans to play in three more Web.com qualifiers before heading back to PGA Tour Latinoamerica the final week of September.
Recent North graduate Michael VanDeventer had seven birdies, but five bogeys and a double-bogey on his way to a a 72 Thursday. He finished seventh with a 282 and was the second-low amateur behind Clouser, his future Ball State teammate.
“If you’d have told me at the beginning of the week that I’d finish seventh in the Open, I’d be thrilled with that,” VanDeventer said. “I played well the first two days, a little disappointing the last two rounds, but there’s a lot of positives I can take away from this. I was able to compete against without a doubt the best players in the state.”
Another North graduate, Coleman Glick, who will be a senior at Tusculum, carded a 73 Thursday and finished in a tie for 62nd at 301.