Boys Golf: Naperville North’s Raymond Knoll wins Illinois State Junior Amateur
Once Raymond Knoll stood on the No. 5 tee box Thursday, he forgot all about the triple bogey he made at the par-3 fourth hole.
The big number was nothing more than a speed bump on an otherwise smooth ride to victory at the Illinois State Junior Amateur.
On an oppressively hot day in Barrington, the Naperville North rising senior carded a 1-over 72 at Makray Memorial to beat Lake Forest’s Joe Willis by seven strokes.
Knoll finished 3-under for the 54-hole tournament after rounds of 71-67-72.
“My dad always tells me to keep par in sight,” said Knoll, who made three birdies and one bogey to go with the triple bogey. “I just tried to stay as close to par as I could today.”
Knoll’s lead wasn’t in any real danger on the back nine, even though Willis, a group ahead, did what he could with the day’s low round of 69.
“I found out in the 16th fairway that I had a six-shot lead, so that pushed some pressure aside,” Knoll said. “Then, it was eight with two to play.”
Knoll said this win ranks high on his career list.
“It’s up there,” he said. “I mean, it feels great to have the title as best junior amateur in the state. Feels really good.”
Knoll, who tied for 35th at the state tournament as a junior, has two bigger tournaments this month. He is playing at the Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego and then at the U.S. Junior Amateur in Stratham, N.H.
“I’m really excited about those,” he said.
Glenbrook North’s Nick Hardy, the first-day leader, faded to third place at 6-over following rounds of 68-73-78. He bogeyed his first two holes Thursday before making a triple bogey on No. 4 to slide down the leaderboard.
But the junior rallied to shoot even par on the back, even closing his round with a birdie at the par-5 18th.
“I wasn’t nervous,” he said. “The only nerves I get is when I put pressure on myself. It was one of those days when I hit some bad shots early. If I play my game, I could have won it.
“But I stuck my head up and kept playing hard. Not a lot of people would have done that on a hot day like this.”
Willis posted rounds of 74-74-69 to take solo second at 4-over. Ian Mankoff, also of Lake Forest, was fourth at 7-over.