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Around the links in Northern Kentucky: Williamson joins exclusive company by winning tournament

By Marc Hardin
NKyTribune contributor

Bill Williamson joined some exclusive company by winning last week’s Northern Kentucky Amateur Championship tournament at Traditions Golf Club. One of Greater Cincinnati’s leading amateur players, Williamson put his name on the winner’s trophy for the second time in three years with a three-day score of 7-under-par 209.

“It’s exciting. I won the first one the first year the GCGA allowed Ohio residents to play,” Williamson said of the Greater Cincinnati Golf Association’s 2016 absorption of the Northern Kentucky event. “It’s nice to win it again.”

Williamson won both times at par-72 Traditions. He missed last year’s tournament due to a schedule conflict, making him two-for-two at the Northern Kentucky Amateur.

Bill Williamson holds the winner’s trophy after capturing last week’s Northern Kentucky Amateur Championship tournament at Traditions Golf Club in Hebron. (Photo provided by the GCGA)

“I like the setting at Traditions. It’s really beautiful. I drive the ball really well there. I hit wedges fairly well and I hit the irons close,” Williamson said of the 6,773-yard layout in Hebron. “I’ve also played the back nine pretty well. I had 31 the second day on the back nine. I had five or six tap-ins that day. I had six birdies.”

Thirteen of Williamson’s 15 tournament birdies last week came on the back nine. He birdied holes 12 and 16 all three days.

“The course has been good to me,” he said. “I won the Mid-Amateur there in 2013 so I like playing there.”

The Loveland High School graduate and former University of Akron golfer added to a stocked trophy display, which now includes 11 Greater Cincinnati Golf Association tournament championships. In addition to his pair of Northern Kentucky crowns, Williamson won the 2012 Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan, four GCGA Four-Ball crowns, three GCGA Mid-Amateur titles and the now-defunct Queen City Invitational. He was the GCGA Player of the year five years in a row from 2012-16.

He’s just the seventh golfer to win the Metropolitan and the Northern Kentucky Amateur in the 78 years both tournaments have been played. Jim Volpenhein won the Northern Kentucky Amateur three times and the Met a record seven times. Pete Stuntebeck captured three Northern Kentucky Amateur crowns and won the Met in 1944. Joe Turner Jr. won Northern Kentucky three times and the Met in 1956. Charlie Nieman won Northern Kentucky four times and the Met in 1979. Don Niehaus won both tournaments twice. Nelson Ruddy won the Northern Kentucky crown in 1941 and the Met in 1942.

Williamson, a 41-year-old corporate attorney for Cincinnati-based Strauss Troy Attorneys at Law, shot 70-68-71, good for a comfortable five-shot cushion over runner-up Brad Wilder, Williamson’s regular four-ball partner. Wilder, who golfed at Covington Catholic and the University of Cincinnati, finished at 2-under 214. Wilder, representing Summit Hills, was the highest finisher among Northern Kentucky residents.

The rest of the top eight reads like a who’s who of regional golf elites. Peter Betzold, a former Troy University golfer and the 2018 Ohio PGA Mid-Am champ, and Otterbein University’s Kurt Fortman tied for third at 1-under 215. Betzold was the 2016 Northern Kentucky Amateur runner-up. Two-time Northern Kentucky Amateur champ Eric Fuldner was fifth at even-par 216.

Former Northern Kentucky University golfer and two-time U.S. Amateur qualifier Matthew Wetherill, the defending champ, placed sixth with 219. He was followed by last year’s runner-up, Austin Zapp, a former Ryle golfer playing for Hanover College. Zapp finished at 221. Sam Marty, Fortman’s teammate at Otterbein, finished eighth at 222. Fortman and Zapp are Traditions members but it was no advantage over Williamson, who plays out of Coldstream.

Next up for Williamson is the USGA US Mid-Amateur Sectional Qualifier Aug. 22 at Heritage Club. He’s slated to be in the field at The Crump Cup Sept. 13-16 in Pine Valley, New Jersey. He qualified as first alternate for the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 13-16 at Pebble Beach in California but needs a withdrawal from another qualifier to play.

Sharon Woods’ Tim Murphy ran away with the Northern Kentucky Senior Amateur Championship, winning for the first time with a score of 3-under 213. He shot a tournament-low 67 the second day and cruised to an eight-stroke win over defending champion and one-time Met champ Ken Kinman from Fort Mitchell Country Club.

Around the links in Northern Kentucky:

A.J. JOLLY: Bishop Brossart High School’s Jerod Baynum won the boys’ 18-under competition at the A.J. Valley Classic at A.J. Jolly Golf Course and Hidden Valley Lake Golf Club in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Baynum, representing World of Golf, carded a two-round score of 15-over-par 158, good for a 15-shot cushion over the runner-up. Highlands’ Luke Muller won in boys’ 15-under with a score of 150. Muller, representing Highland Country Club, finished three strokes ahead of co-runners-up Evan Stewart from Traditions and Zack Beard from Miami View. Tradition’s Sam Tucker (162) finished fifth and Kevin Tobergte (174) from Traditions was eighth.

BOONE LINKS/LASSING POINTE: Covington Catholic’s Ben Sweeten finished second at the two-day GCGA 1905 Junior Tour Championship 18-under event. Sweeten, from The Stephens Golf Academy, carded 9-over 152, shooting 76 both days. Kevin Tobertge was fifth in the 15-under event with 165. In the girls’ championships, Ellie Rowland placed fourth in 18-under with 182. Jenna Doumont (190) was fifth.

WORLD OF GOLF: Lilly Baumann placed fourth in the girls’ 18-under event at the A.J. Valley Classic.

GCGA 1905 JUNIOR TOUR: Luke Muller tied for first in the boys’ 15-under event at the two-day Four Ponds Junior Tournament at Four Bridges Country Club and Walden Ponds. He shot 8-over 152, matching Tyler Vallee from Oasis Golf Club. Kevin Tobertge (163) was fourth.

NKWGA: The Northern Kentucky Women’s Golf Association’s remaining summer tournament schedule includes the Sept. 6 Best Ball Tournament at Northern Kentucky Golf Club and the Sept. 17-18 Seniors Tournament at Highland Country Club. Applications for the Best Ball and Seniors tournaments can be found at nkwga.com. Remaining invitationals are the Aug. 8 Summit Hills Rainbow Classic and Aug. 9 Eagle Creek Crystal Invitational. For more information, head to the website.

Marc Hardin’s summer golf column has been featured in The Kentucky Post and Kentucky Enquirer for 15 years. He’s covered all the local amateur tournaments and several PGA and LPGA events since 2003. His feature for The Cincinnati Post about how Chi Chi Rodriguez got on the album cover of a Devo record was PGA Story Of The Day from the 2004 Kroger Classic at The Golf Center at Kings Island. Marc has written for the Greater Cincinnati Golf Association and Greater Cincinnati Women’s Golf Association. He welcomes comments, story tips, feature ideas and your league’s standings. You can contact him at marcwriterdude@yahoo.com.

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