Alex Weiss Is 99th Ohio Open Champion!

MEDINA: It has to be labeled as a study in perseverance.

That’s the best (only?) way to describe the victory by Pickerington native Alex Weiss in the 99th Pyramid Treating Minute Men Ohio Open, which concluded Wednesday at the Weymouth Club.

To understand the depth of Weiss’s triumph over a trusted field, including the final-round pairing, you have to look at his past appearances in what is regarded as the most elite event in Ohio that features an array of professionals and top-notch amateurs.

· In 2019 he laid a remarkable final-round 11-under par 61 on the field at Weymouth, including a thrilling chip-in on the 54th hole, to get himself into a three-man sudden death playoff. Only a dead-on, 8-foot birdie putt by eventual champion Stephen Gangluff, after Houdini-like escape from the trees on the right side of Weymouth’s 470-yard finishing hole, ended his hopes. That came after his chip in the playoff, from a spot similar to the one he made to force the overtime, lipped out.

· In 2018 Weiss shot himself into contention with a second-round 6-under 66, only to fade to a tie for ninth with a disappointing closing 74.

· In 2017 he opened with a solid 5-under 67 and closed with a nearly as solid 68. But, a second-round 77 doomed him to a tie for 18th.

· In 2016 he was in the hunt with a 2-under 70 and a 5-under 67 but the wheels came off with a final-round 74. It resulted in a disappointing tie for 31st.

· In 2015, as a still wet-behind-the-ears amateur, a pair of respectable 71s were capped by a numbing 74 and a tie for 58th.

That brings us to Wednesday when Weiss shot a steadier-than-thou final-round 69 and a one-shot victory over three-time winner Bob Sowards and Kent State assistant coach Ryan Kip with a 54-hole score of 13-under 203.

Sowards, attempting to become the first to win both the Ohio Open and Senior Open in the same year, had a two-shot lead at 15-under after a birdie to Weiss’s par on the 501-yard 14th hole, in which Weiss missed a makeable birdie putt of about two feet. Uncharacteristically, Sowards bogeyed three of the final four holes while Weiss made pars.

Yet, the two were tied when both reached the 18th green in two and it appeared a second straight playoff would be required. However, Sowards three-putted from about 30 feet, with his first putt going about four feet past the hole and Weiss was safely in with a par.

“This is a great event every year and Ohio is a great golf state and I don’t think a lot of people know that,” said Weiss, who earned $8,000 for his victory. “We have a so many good players here and to be able to have the track record I’ve had here the last few years and to finally win is pretty special. To have my name along with Nicklaus and Weiskopf and Nelson is cool.”

Yip, who joined the KSU staff last summer, hit the ball solid all day but just couldn’t get a decisive putt to fall.

He and Sowards both finished at 12-under 204 – Sowards with a final-round 71 and Yip with a 70 — and took home $4,500 each.

Amateurs Bruce Haney (67-69-69-205) and Camden Solomon (72-67-68-207) finished fourth and fifth, respectively and Aurora’s Tyler McHugh, a pro at Fox Den, was a solo sixth at 69-68-71-208.

Weiss, a graduate of Marshall University, had a solid support group in his parents, David and Jill, his younger sister Carla, and grandparents Carl and Karen. Toss in his long-time instructor, Scott Jones, the head pro at Turnberry Country Club, there were plenty of hugs – social distancing be damned – to go around.

Weiss, 24, acknowledged the crushing defeat last year and his past frustrations.

“I shot myself into contention two years ago and came up a little short,” he recalled. “Then, last year to play as well as I did in the final round and the playoff, especially the lip-out chip in the playoff, and then to watch Stephen make that putt was tough. I thought everything was going my way but it didn’t end up like that.”

It did on Wednesday. It was Weiss’s time. And, in his view, everything went his way.

Tim is a Contributing Writer for the Northern Ohio PGA. Award-winning golf writer and sports reporter for the Plain Dealer, now retired. Contributor to the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository, AP, other national publications.