FRENCH LICK – There is no time like the present. A statement that rings true with our 101st Indiana Open Champion, Brett Melton. Coming into the final round at the Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort, Melton trailed by three. Today, Melton proved he could come from behind and win with ease.
Melton posted a tremendous round of 7-under-par, 63 today, for a 72-hole total of 8-under-par, 272. He defeated defending champion Timothy Hildebrand, Westfield, by four shots.
“Today my goal was to go out and get him,” said Melton, the Director of Golf at the CC of Old Vincennes. “Anytime you’re coming from behind, you’re goal is to put the pressure on.”
Melton started off the day with three birdies in his opening three holes, and just like that, he had closed the gap.
“I had a good mindset going into today, but I didn’t expect to make three birdies in a row right out of the gate,” Melton said. “After I tied things up after three, I remember thinking ‘game on.’”
Melton’s fast start set the momentum for the rest of his round today. He carded a total of eight birdies and only one bogey.
Heading into the back nine, Melton led by one shot. With a birdie on 10, his lead with two. Melton saw this lead quickly grow to four after Hildebrand made back-to-back bogeys on the 13 and 14.
“I felt good at that point, but I knew Tim wasn’t going to let up,” Melton said.
Melton’s feeling was right. Hildebrand bounced back with an eagle on the par-5, 15th to get back within two.
“I still felt like I was in it at that point,” Hildebrand said. “I hit it close, made the putt and felt good heading to 16.”
Melton answered Hildebrand’s eagle with a birdie on 16, and at that point felt like he had won the event.
“When I made the putt on 16, I felt like I had won,” Melton said. “I was just trying to finish up before the storm.”
Melton added another birdie to his scorecard on 17 and made par on 18 to post a 72-hole total of 8-under-par and grab his second State Open title (previous win in ’08).
“It feels really good,” Melton said. “The first time I win an event is an awesome feeling, but I always think it’s more difficult to win for a second time. This one feels special and I am grateful to have had this opportunity again.”
Hildebrand finished the event at 4-under-par to grab second place, as well as low amateur honors.
“If you would have told me at the start of the week that I would have finished second, I would have been thrilled,” Hildebrand said. “Brett went out and took it today and that is the way a golf tournament is supposed to be won. He truly deserves it.”
Johnny Watts of Fishers finished third at 2-under-par.
Locals finishing up the tournament included Stephen Conrad of Syracuse, who posted a 73 in his final round to finish at 288 and tied for 13th overall. Conrad had sat in 10th place entering the final round.
Michael Sharp of Kendallville posted a 71-289 tied for 18th; Alec Dutkowski of Wakarusa finished at 73-296 tied for 41st; Dave Pugh of Culver and Michael Makris of South Bend each tied for 54th, Pugh a 75 and Makris a 79 to end at 300 for their four-day total; and Jon Schram of Winona Lake shot a 74-301 to tie for 57th.