By Susan Jenior
The first-round leaders in each division of the 93rd Portage County Amateur stayed at the top of the leaderboard through 36 holes of golf, for two rounds and at two completely different courses.
Competed at Windmill Lakes in Ravenna and Raccoon Hill in Kent, golfers in the Amateur commented about the test the courses provided to their game, but there was more at play than simply sweeping the field and conquering tough golf course fairways and greens.
Evan Ferrara, of Kent, won the County Division for the second time, the first victory coming in 2020, but this win was different.
Firing identical rounds of 72-72, Ferrara started the day at Raccoon Hill with back-to-back double bogeys, erasing his lead before he settled down and added five birdies over the next 16 holes, including ending his round with back-to-back birdies on holes 16 and 17.
With Ferrara’s dad on the bag, other thoughts were on the family’s mind. Evan’s grandfather, Dr. Emilio Ferrara, died two weeks ago, and he was in his family’s thoughts — as well as many of the other golfers.
Evan’s grandfather rarely missed, and thoroughly enjoyed, watching his grandson compete at Windmill Lakes and the other golf courses in Portage County. Everyone knew him and missed his presence on the course this season.
That was even more important to Evan Ferrara, the grandson that loved his grandfather watching. Everyone on the golf course was thrilled that Ferrara won with a decisive victory that was 11 strokes better than second and third place.
Lucas Harrington, a former Aurora High School standout, returned to play in the Amateur this season and played solid (79-76).
He tied former Streetsboro varsity golfer, Jeremy Knight, following Knight’s 80 at Raccoon to add to the 75 he shot at Windmill.
A scorecard playoff determined Harrington’s runner-up spot.
Just missing out on a spot on the podium was Randy Wilburn, of Deerfield, firing a 76 on his second day to leap into fourth place. He’s ready for a run at the Senior Amateur at the end of August at the same two host courses.
The oddest round of the day was fired by Chad Brazill, who has become a regular at the Amateur. Usually a consistent golfer, Brazill said, “listen to this score,” as he sat down at the scoring table. When totaled, the Streetsboro resident fired a front nine of 54 and a back nine of 38 for a 16-stroke improvement.
The final round started out with three Youngstown State University men’s golfers competing in the final threesome.
Jake Sylak, of Mineral Ridge, a senior this season for the Penguins, fired the only back-to-back, under-par rounds of the tournament.
Sylak fired a 69 on the Par-70 fairways of Windmill and then added a 70 on the Par-71 Raccoon Hill.
“The two golf courses were a good test,” said Sylak. “They are a ball-striker’s paradise. You can’t just pull out your driver on every hole, something I always want to do so that’s tough for me. It was a great tournament.”
Andrew Bolinger, of Sheffield Village, made a move into second place thanks to the low round of the tournament — a 67 at Raccoon Hill. That 4-under-par round moved him ahead of Cole Christman, who is also a Penguin. Christman shot a 74 on his final day to add to his 71 for a 145 third-place total.
Bolinger, a former Tiffin varsity golfer and Ashland coach, bested Christman of Canfield by one stroke.
Allyson Siewert, of Sagamore Hills, a member of the women’s team at Wooster College, held on the lead over Morgan Bauza of Kent.
Siewert fired an 84 on her second day to decisively lead the field.
But the women, all collegiate golfers, were supportive of each other throughout both 18-hole rounds, enjoying the day with each other and the solid competition.
Sydney Leavery of Kent finished third and Samantha Miller of Streetsboro was fourth.
After a busy week, the Portage County Amateurs host the final tournament of the season, the 53rd Portage County Senior Amateur will return to the Amateur courses of Windmill Lakes and Raccoon Hill on Aug. 26 and 27.
Registration forms are available at pcagolf.net and on the Facebook page “The Portage County Amateurs sponsored by Portage Sports.”
Registration is also available at hosts golf courses.