Coming into the Indiana Open Championship, Timothy Hildebrand just wanted a chance. He wanted a chance to stay close to the top of the field of 156, nearly one-third of which were professionals. Then, if things went well, he could make a move.
He didn’t just stay close. He took the lead in the opening round and did not look back.
The 18-year-old amateur played like anything but one, winning the championship Thursday at Brickyard Crossing with a final score of 16-under-par 272. He is the first amateur to win the event since Chris Wright in 2010.
Hildebrand, who tied for third for Westfield in last month’s IHSAA golf meet, scored round totals of 67, 68, 67 and 70. Monday was his first time playing the course, but he was comfortable from the start.
“I would play away from hazards and go on the sides you could miss on,” he said. “It worked pretty well.”
Due to a weather delay Tuesday, golfers were forced to play 36 holes Thursday. Hildebrand held a five-stroke lead going into the final 18 holes, but led by only two strokes with three holes to play.
Hildebrand will begin his collegiate career at Purdue this fall. A former Boilermaker posed the biggest threat to Hildebrand. Adam Schenk, a 2014 Purdue graduate and current PGA Tour Latinoamérica member, was paired with Hildebrand and stayed close for much of the week.
Schenk bogeyed the 16th hole Thursday, giving Hildebrand a three-stroke lead going into the final two holes. But Hildebrand said he wasn’t comfortable until after his tee shot on the 18th hole.
“I knew at any given point (Schenk) could run off another string of birdies,” Hildebrand said.
While Hildebrand had the upper hand between the golfers this week, he said he hopes to emulate Schenk’s success while at Purdue. Schenk was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2011.
“I’d love to follow in his footsteps and achieve that same goal,” Hildebrand said.”That’s really incredible and I look up to him a lot for that.”
Purdue men’s golf coach Rob Bradley also competed in the tournament, and said he is encouraged by what he saw from Hildebrand. Bradley, who finished tied for 10th at 3 under, hopes Hildebrand will be able to make a strong program even stronger. The Purdue men’s golf team has been selected for the NCAA regionals four of the past five years.
“He played great this week,” Bradley said. “Adam’s been one of the best players we’ve had at Purdue. To be able to go out there and take down Adam as an incoming freshman is a great accomplishment.”