Iowa men’s golfer Mac McClear wins Illinois State Amateur

The Hinsdale, Illinois, product finished the four-round event at 5-under-par — good for a three-shot victory.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa’s Mac McClear watches other players on the green during the men’s golf Hawkeye Invitational on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at Finkbine Golf Course.

Chris Werner, Summer Sports Editor

Through the first two rounds of the Illinois State Amateur at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Illinois, on July 19 and 20, Iowa rising senior Mac McClear was sitting pretty atop the leaderboard.

Following scores of 6-under-par 66 and even-par 72, McClear was four clear of second place. 

In the first of two rounds on the final day, McClear turned in a 4-under-par 68 and grew his lead to five strokes.

The final 18 holes weren’t so kind to McClear, who lost the 2021 Illinois State Amateur in a three-way playoff. 

In the span of his first nine holes, the 2021 Big Ten Champion’s lead vanished and he found himself tied at 6-under-par with Illinois rising fifth-year senior Tommy Kuhl.

“Not really sure what happened,” McClear told The Daily Iowan Friday morning. “Just didn’t really seem to get any putts to go in or any breaks to go my way, but I knew I was still playing golf. It just wasn’t going in the hole.”

McClear said a solid approach shot on Westmoreland’s 10th hole settled his nerves as he started the final stretch. Although he missed the birdie putt on the 10th hole and settled for par, Kuhl dropped a shot and McClear regained a one-shot advantage.

Then McClear expanded his lead again. 

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Sneaking a look at the scoreboards around Westmoreland, McClear saw his advantage grow from one shot to six from holes 11-15. 

McClear got back to 9-under-par while Kuhl dropped to 3-under. 

On the 16th hole, McClear’s tee shot found a fairway bunker and his errors didn’t stop there. 

He played in the sand more than he should have and took a triple bogey-7 on the hole. 

“No penalty shots,” McClear said. “Just hit it in the fairway bunker, hit the lip, came back, hit it next to the green, chunked it into the bunker, hit it out, two-putted for a triple.”

Just like that, McClear’s lead was down to two. 

McClear made an up-and-down par on the par-3 17th hole to keep the lead and then Kuhl double-bogeyed the 18th hole.

McClear escaped with a three-stroke win at 5-under-par. 

“After the triple, I think I really had to test my patience because 17 is actually one of the harder holes,” McClear said. “It’s a par-3 with water short right, into the wind, So if I got all in a fuss about my triple I think I would maybe hit it in the water or done something else. But I was able to forget about the triple and make a nice par there which really kind of secured it up for me.”

McClear said Westmoreland’s layout suited his game better than that of Mistwood Country Club — the host of the 2021 Illinois State Amateur. 

After winning this week and achieving a goal he set for himself when he was a young kid, McClear is looking forward to trying to achieve the success that some past Illinois State Amateur champions have. 

Nick Hardy and Patrick Flavin, the winners in 2016 and 17, respectively, are now regulars on the PGA Tour and numerous others have made multiple starts or are members on the Korn Ferry Tour.

“It was just cool,” McClear said.  “You know, a lot of good players have done that in the past. To be able to do the same thing that they have is definitely cool to do and it shows that I can do some of the things that they have. They’ve had success after doing this. So hopefully I can have the same success that they’ve had.”