Whitby repeats as Delaware Amateur champion

Delaware State News photos/Marc Clery

WYOMING — Pressure all depends on your perspective.

A lot of golfers might think going into the last round of a tournament with an eight-shot lead is a good thing.

Jay Whitby, though, saw the potential for disaster in the situation on Wednesday.

“When you’ve got this big of a lead, everybody expects you to win,” said the 29-year-old from Wild Quail. “And, if you don’t, you look like a fool.”

But Whitby didn’t have any trouble sealing the deal on his home course, firing a final-round 72 to win the Delaware Amateur by six strokes on Wednesday at Wild Quail Country Club.

It was the second title in a row and third in 10 years for Whitby in the 64-year-old tourney. Whitby also won it in 2006, the last time the Amateur was played at Wild Quail.

With two rounds being played on Wednesday, Whitby opened up his eight-shot lead by carding a four-under-par 68 — his low score of the week — in the morning round. He coasted home from there with his 72 in the afternoon.

Whitby, who posted a nine-under par 279 for the tournament, and second-place finisher Ryan Rucinski of Fieldstone, who had a 285, were the only players to finish under par for the event.

The Caesar Rodney High grad likes moving up the list of players who have won the Delaware Amateur multiple times.

“The list gets shorter the more you add to it,” said Whitby, a salesman at his family’s Kent County Mo-tors. “It’s a little more validation.

“But, at this point, I’m just out here to have a good time and compete. I work a lot. If I win, great. May-be there’s a little lower expectations in my mind … and therefore maybe I’m getting a little more of the de-sired results.”

Rucinski came into Wednesday trailing Whitby by only four shots with 36 holes to catch him. But Whitby added two strokes to his lead on the front nine of the third round and Rucinski was never really able to mount a serious challenge.

“I knew I had a lot of golf to play to make those shots back,” said the 19-year-old Rucinski, who plays at Wilmington University. “You just knew he (Whitby) wasn’t going to shoot high on this course, being his home course and Jay being a good player.

“He’s just consistent. He stays in play and never gets in trouble. It’s hard to catch up to someone who’s not going to get in trouble. He’s a solid putter on the greens and he knows them well.”

For the week, Whitby carded 15 birdies against only six bogeys in the 72-hole event. He led after all but the first round.

He said he just tried to just stay aggressive no matter where he stood on the leaderboard.

“I’ve tried it both ways — aggressive and cautious,” said Whitby. “I think aggressive works better.

“Luckily I’m very familiar and comfortable with the course. That made a big difference. I mean I’ve probably played more golf here than anyone. I was trying to stretch the lead to 10 shots — that’s the number I had in mind.”

But Whitby wasn’t going to complain about only having an eight-stroke advantage to work with. A year ago, he had just a three-shot lead on the final hole.

“It was a little more comfortable this year,” said Whitby. “No less fun, though. It was still an enjoyable experience.”

Chip shots

Bob Bechtold took third place with a 291 while another Fieldstone golfer, Joe Tigani, finished in a three-way tie for fourth at 294. … Lucas Farmer, a 21-year-old from Rehoboth, was also in the tie for fourth. … Wild Quail’s Rosal family finished close together with Pem Rosal carding a 303, one stroke better than oldest son Nino, whose 304 was two shots better than younger brother, Matthew, at 306. … This was only the second time that the Delaware Amateur held two rounds on the final day. … That same format will be used for the 51st annual Delaware Open, which will be played on Aug. 1-2 at Deerfield Country Club.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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