A decade ago, Owensboro native Andy Roberts walked off the course at Lexington Country Club as the Kentucky Open champion. Despite not finishing where he wanted after a tie for 15th this time around, Roberts has learned to appreciate the Open for other reasons.
Roberts finished at 2-under in the 101st Kentucky Open at Triple Crown Country Club Saturday in Union after a rain delay pushed the event an extra day, but he was just a few shots off the lead after firing an opening round 66.
For most of day two, Roberts held steady but one hole proved to be too much.
“The second round, I was 1-under through 15, I made an eight on par three No. 16,” he said. “I knew that I needed to probably get a couple more birdies coming in that day to stay in convention and went after a pin that was tucked over a lake and hit it in the water the first time, then went up and did it again. After that, I think I was 2-under, the leader was 10-under. Being eight shots back was very, very difficult. They’re very good players.”
Roberts shot a 72 in his final round as J.B. Williams led wire-to-wire and won the tournament at 11-under.
Roberts said it’s been a long 10 years but he’s noticed more about the tournament during that time.
“When I won it, I was 30 years old,” he said. “Now I’m 40 so it’s kind of just a special week in a way. You’re teeing off, your name is on the trophy, which is really cool. When they announce you on the tee, they announce you as a past champion. There’s just not very many people that are going to be able to say that so that is probably the coolest part of it.”
Roberts admitted he wasn’t one of the younger players in the field and said he’s length proved to be a factor.
On the par fives, some of the younger players to get on the green in two while for players like him, it wasn’t as easy.
“I still feel like I can win it yes, but as you start getting older, these kids are really good,” he said. “They’re so much longer and they pound the ball past you.”
Roberts said with him winning the event before, he knows what it takes but every year is different.
“It probably meant more to me then than it does to me now,” he said. “I still want to win but you get older, you got kids, you’ve got other stuff going on in your life. To me, it’s the best tournament I’ve ever won. You get a lifetime exemption, you get to come back … It’s kind of cool to be a part of it every year.”
Roberts now sets his sights on the Kentucky Amateur, which just so happens to be at a place he’s all too familiar with in Lexington Country Club.
The 106th Clark’s Pump-N-Shop Kentucky State Amateur is Sept. 9-11 in Lexington.