Kemmer repeats as champion
Wichitan holds off Overland Park's Smell to win on first playoff hole
Kyle Smell might win the Kansas Golf Assn. Junior Amateur Championship – but not this year.
On Thursday, Dodge Kemmer showed why he won the tournament in 2004, beating Smell in a playoff after the final round at Eagle Bend Golf Course.
Smell’s driver was his undoing. He sent two drives into the woods on hole No. 10 during the playoff and made triple bogey. Kemmer made par, becoming only the fourth golfer in the tournament’s 46-year history to win consecutive championships.
Former KU golfer Chris Thompson won in 1993 and ’94.
“That’s pretty exciting,” said Kemmer, a Wichita native. “I’m just glad I could put the rounds together for two years in a row.”
Still, Kemmer wished for a different script.
“You hate to see that happen to somebody, even if you’re playing against them,” Kemmer said of Smell’s breakdown. “It’s awesome that I pulled out the win, but I would have rather won it on a birdie or something like that … because it could be you.”
Despite the disappointing finish, Overland Park’s Smell found solace.
For one, he’s only 16 years old, and he posted the best round all week with a 65 on Tuesday.
“It makes me fell better,” said Smell, who parred No. 10 earlier in the final round. “I still got a couple of more years of this. It’s awesome I had a chance at it. In the past couple of years, I hadn’t played well. It was definitely surreal playing a playoff against the defending champion. It just happened to be the wrong swing at the wrong time.”
Kemmer shot a 3-under 69 Thursday, tying Braeden Miller of Wichita for the day’s lowest round and scoring a 7-under 209 total. He would have won outright, but his group was docked a stroke because of slow play on the front nine.
Smell, who shot a final-round 70, was 6-under going into the 18th hole and needed a birdie to force the playoff. His third shot landed within three feet of the cup, and he sunk the putt.
Kemmer sat atop the practice greens, realizing a playoff awaited.
“Nothing you can do about it,” Kemmer said. “It wasn’t the only shot I left out there.”
Kemmer, a Stanford signee, had a highlight on No. 18, too. After driving the ball next to the cart path and under a tree, he calmly put his second shot on the green.
Brett Iliff led heading into Thursday after a two-day total of 137, and he was in the chase until a triple bogey on the par-5 16th.
“It was just a struggle,” Iliff said. “It was just a tough day overall.”
Brad Boan of Overland Park finished third in 211, followed by Iliff (212).
2003’s champion, Jason Schulte of Kansas City, Mo., shot 213. Michael McDonnell of Leawood (215) and Tyler Trout of Leawood (215) were the only other golfers under par for the tournament.