Hernandez wins Northern Amateur in playoff

Juan Pablo Hernandez with former Arizona head coach Rick LaRose.

CHESTERTON, Ind. – Juan Pablo Hernandez outlasted David Tepe in a three-hole playoff to win the Northern Amateur on Friday at Sand Creek Country Club.

Hernandez and Tepe had stumbled across the finish line in the 54-hole event as each made double bogey on the 435-yard, par-4 closing hole.

"The pressure got to me," Hernandez, a recent Arizona graduate from Mexico City, told the Post-Tribune of northern Indiana.

Yet Hernandez, who also won the South Beach International Amateur in late December, collected himself in the playoff to add a second significant amateur victory to his resume before next week's Western Amateur.

For Tepe, a recent Cincinnati graduate from Liberty Township, Ohio, the late misstep tarnished a comeback in which he had played his previous 10 holes in 8 under to draw even with Hernandez, who played the last four holes in 4 over. They tied at 5-under 211, one stroke ahead of first-round leader Jack Perry, a Northwestern senior from Santa Barbara, Calif., who closed with a 74.

Reed Hrynewich of Muskegon, Mich., and Mitchell Rutledge of Creve Coeur, Mo., shared fourth at 213.

The Northern Amateur, in its third year of reinstatement after not being played from 2002 through 2010, dates to 1967. Its roster of champions includes Howard Twitty (1970), Joe Ogilvie (1993) and Bo Van Pelt (1995).

Before faltering on the 18th, Hernandez and Tepe had excelled near the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Tepe, who recorded two eagles and 17 birdies for the tournament, surged into the playoff with a final-round 68. Hernandez had racked up 16 birdies, including one at the 18th to seal a second-round 7-under 65, the low round of the tournament, and take the 36-hole lead.

Hernandez said he was pleased to have redeemed himself after struggling down the stretch.

"I took more from having to deal with the pressure of not playing well (in regulation)," Hernandez told The Times of Northwest Indiana. "I was pretty mad (after 18). I thought I handled things after that pretty well."

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