Joe Jaspers claims sixth Golfweek Amateur Tour title

Carlton Reese/Golfweek

Joe Jaspers claims sixth Golfweek Amateur Tour title

Amateur

Joe Jaspers claims sixth Golfweek Amateur Tour title

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Forgive Joe Jaspers if the task of winning the Golfweek Amateur Tour Championship seems a bit underwhelming these days. This past weekend, Jaspers visited Hilton Head Island as he has every year for nearly a decade and as routine dictates for him he will once again return home to North Carolina as champion.

Jaspers fired rounds of 68-75-73—216 in winning the event for the sixth time in his career.

“If I get to 10 (titles) it would never get old,” said Jaspers, who played his best golf in Friday’s opening round at Hilton Head Country Club to build a big lead he would never relinquish.

The victory erased any memories Jasper had of a year ago when he finished with double bogeys on the last two holes in losing by one shot to Jay Barnes. Jaspers refused to let those memories linger this weekend as he embarked on win No. 6.

“I wasn’t thinking about what happened last year at all,” Jaspers said. “Last year I hit a couple bad tee shots coming in, but up until the last two holes I was hitting the ball as well as I ever had. That’s Hilton Head – there’s a big score waiting around every corner.”

Jaspers was a bit more careful this time around while protecting a big lead. Having battled through some mechanical issues with his swing, Jaspers let his putter kept him in front and when he gained command of his game early in Sunday’s final round, there was no catching him.

A couple bogeys early in the final round brought a glimmer of hope to the field as Jeff Moritz trimmed an 8-shot deficit to five by the fourth hole. But Jaspers answered with a string of birdies at 6, 7 and 8 to provide some cushion and keep Moritz and the rest of the field at bay.

“That was huge because I was struggling the first couple holes. I was still trying to find my swing a little bit and that stretch there I started to hit solid shot after solid shot.”

The three birdies gave Jaspers a near double-digit lead over Moritz and the only goal was to avoid big numbers coming home.

“I knew I put myself in good position,” Jaspers said. “When you play golf in this area, there’s so much trouble and a big number is waiting to happen anywhere. I was fortunate on Saturday (played at Palmetto Hall’s Arthur Hills Course) because I didn’t hit the ball very well, but I putted well. My short game really saved me.”

Friday’s 68 put a temporary hold on Jaspers’ season of frustration – a season in which he has battled mechanical issues with his swing. Several weeks ago, Jaspers was sitting pretty with nine holes remaining in stroke play of the U.S. Mid-Amateur in Atlanta. That’s when his swing abandoned him and Jaspers played the final seven holes in 7 over to miss entry into match play by just three shots.

At the Carolina Amateur over the summer, Jaspers reached 4 under through 11 holes then finished 2 over. The Mid-Am and Carolina Amateur defined his year up to this week’s Championship.

“My game has been very erratic this year. I will have a good round going then somewhere on the back nine I start making bogeys. I was able to kind of hold that off this week because of my short game, especially Saturday.

“I had misses going both ways. When you’re standing on the tee and not knowing where your misses are, it’s hard to compensate.”

Jaspers says he “wasn’t sitting back into my right hip on my back swing” and once he figured that out, shots improved.

Thankfully for him, Friday’s opening round was error-free as he built a four-shot lead that would hold up even through Saturday’s potentially-disastrous round. Spraying shots off the tee, Jaspers may have been fortunate to scratch out a 75 Saturday and maintain his four-shot advantage into Sunday.

“I built a big enough lead to give me a cushion, but you get one wild shot and you can make a double or triple in a heartbeat.”

With six titles under his belt, Jaspers has no intention of letting up. Eligible to compete in the Senior Division, Jaspers will go for as many championships in his current division before wreaking havoc elsewhere on the older circuit.

“As long as my body will hold up and I can still hit the ball far enough where I can compete, I’ll keep coming back.”

And as long as Jaspers is able to self-diagnose his swing issues, title No. 10 may eventually be in the works.

• • •

FINAL RESULTS

Championship Flight
Joe Jaspers 68-75-73—216
Jeff Moritz 75-73-76—224
Terry Lanning 75-76-75—226
Jason Page 77-72-78—227
Scott Patnode 77-70-81—228

‘A’ Flight- Atlantic Dunes
Tom Chambers +17
Storm Swinney +19
John Perron +19
David LeVeque +20
Phil Vangeersdaelen +21

‘A’ Flight- Arthur Hills
Mike Griggs +36
Dave Baca +37
Jeff Zipay +37
Kevin Mighton +40
Kenny Bain +40

‘B’ Flight- Robert Trent Jones
Kasey Dickenson +24
Edward Greenfield +26
Ron Stambaugh +31
Lyle Joyner +32
Rob Andrews +32

‘B’ Flight- Dolphin Head
Al Sheppard +46
Alex Orozco +46
Travis Randall +47
Chris Collier +48
Marty Harris +49

‘C’ Flight- Hampton Hall
Luke Lavorato +32
Robert Luter +37
Keith Smith +40
Avery Gaudin +40
Casey Sullivan +40

‘C’ Flight- Oyster Reef
Larry Eller +55
Jimmy Mathis +56
Mike Gehrke +56
Joey Landry +57
Gene Bussard +57

‘D’ Flight- Arthur Hills
Willie Hughes +59
Anthony Caraccio +63
Crys Peyton +65
Tristan Johnson +65
James Jacobs +66

‘D’ Flight- CC of Hilton Head
Mario Vasquez +97
Sascha Kindmann +102
Greg Minton +102
Larry Montgomery +102
Justin Steinmann +106
Kirk Tessendorf +106

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