Local golfers in qualifying drama for Western Amateur

For almost 5 hours of golf, Penn grad Ben Bellville was playing as solid of a round as he could have wished for.

But a slight lapse of concentration for 3 seconds on a 4-foot birdie attempt caused him to lip-out the shot and miss it.

That one-shot would cost him his chance to play in the Western Amateur on Wednesday in Benton Harbor.

He was one of 130 golfers competing for 18 spots on Monday at Warren Golf Course for the coveted amateur tournament

"It was probably me being young," Bellville began to explain. " I was thinking 'hey alright, I just got a birdie on 5. I can get a birdie here too.'"

"Just too many things were going through my head instead of just concentrating on making the putt. It was just unfortunate."

Bellville would also bogey on his final hole. Being the last golfer on the course, the IU bound golfer knew a par would qualify him.

Instead, Bellville was forced into a 8-man playoff for that one remaining spot.

"I made a bogey---sometimes that happens," Bellville said. "You try and then go out and get it done in the playoff."

"8 people for one spot? The odds are just not in your favor."

With two golfers in front of him birding, Bellville missed his birdie attempt to advance to the next round of the playoff.

Purdue's Brandon Lawson claimed that final spot.

Meanwhile, Elkhart's Gavin Wilkinson shot a 1-over 71 to qualify for the 2nd straight year.

"It's just huge," Wilkinson said after making a tremendous par save from the fridge on his final shot of the day. "It's great to go up there and compete with the best in the country and really see where my game is at."

"All the best collegiate and amateurs in the country and world are going to be up at that tournament."

The Bethel College senior put himself in trouble with 4 holes left as he entered the rough. But he made a tremendous approach and then sank a 35-footer for birdie.

That put him at 1-over and gave him some breathing room.

South Bend's Mike Lamb also qualified, shooting a 2-over 72.

Elkhart's Eric Lebold, Warsaw's Chris Hanson, Goshen's Kyle Miller, South Bend's Richard Lamb, South Bend's Nate Hoff, Granger's Dan Tobin, Coloma's D.J. Pepple, South Bend's John Shafer, Elkhart's Jon Bonfiglio, South Bend's Steve Colnitis, and South Bend's Matt Stockton all also attempted to qualify but did not make the cut.

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