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Len Ziehm On Golf

ILLINOIS OPEN: New pro Scodro is thriving on state Opens

Wednesday’s final round of the 63rd Illinois Open didn’t have the spectacular shots that were so abundant in Round 2, but it certainly had more drama.

Recent Notre Dame graduate Max Scodro and Eric Meierdierks, the tourney’s 2010 champion, waged a two-man duel all day long at The Glen Club in Glenview before Skodro took the title on the fifth hole of a playoff. It was the longest playoff in the tourney since Marty Schiene outlasted Gary Groh over six holes at Royal Fox in St. Charles 20 years ago.

Scodro was surprised to learn the playoff format called for three holes first, the winner to be decided by aggregate score, but it didn’t faze him after he had drilled a 12-foot birdie putt to pull even with Meierdierks at 10-under-par 206 for the regulation 54 holes.

Moments before Scodro made the big putt Meierdierks uncorked a 6-iron from 180 yards into the wind that stopped six feet from the cup. But he couldn’t convert for birdie, and that gave Skodro a chance to stay alive.

“I willed that one in,’’ said Scodro. “I couldn’t believe it went in, but I had a good feeling going into the playoff.’’

That feeling wasn’t so good on the first hole of sudden death, when Meierdierks’ 15-footer for the win hit the back of the cup.

“It was such a good putt. The majority of the ball was in the hole. I thought it was over,’’ said Scodro. So did Meierdierks.

“It looked like a fist-pumper,’’ admitted Meierdierks, who had to cut his celebration short. “It didn’t go. That’s golf.’’

The end came on their third playoff trip down No. 18. Meierdierks hit his drive in the left weeds for the third straight time couldn’t scramble for par. After Meierdierks settled for bogey Skodro needed two putts from 10 feet for his par and the win. He had no problem negotiating that.

Scodro, 22, turned pro after his college graduation last month and won the Arizona Open in his first start. State Opens seem to be his thing, and the Iowa Open is on his schedule for August.

Wednesday’s win was worth $17,000 to Scodro, who spent three years at Chicago’s Francis Parker Academy prior to attending Notre Dame. He’s been playing out of Olympia Fields Country Club, and that’s where the trophy he won on Wednesday is likely to go first.

“I had never met Max or heard of him,’’ said Meierdierks, a mini-tour veteran who will make his next start at the Colorado Open. “He’s got a lot of talent, and I enjoyed playing with him. I made a friend in him.’’