KSU grad Latimer is scorching hot this summer
Very few amateur golfers in Northeast Ohio have enjoyed the kind of summer Nick Latimer has.
The 23-year-old Kent State graduate added to his laurels Sunday with a record-setting performance in winning the 16th Greater Cleveland Amateur at Sleepy Hollow in Brecksville. He waltzed to a nine-stroke victory in the 84-player field over runner-up and last year's champion, Cleveland State senior Kyle Cobb, with a tournament record 66-67-71 - 204 total.
Cobb, 21, a Strongsville resident, shot even-par 71 Sunday and his 74-68-71 - 213 total left him at even par for the tournament a score usually good enough to win. Another ex-CSU golfer, Matt Heestand, 27, of Parma, was alone in third at 74-67-75-216.
"Nick Latimer was on fire, especially after those first two rounds," Cobb said. "We were all basically playing for second place. I knew he'd be cruising today . . . he showed no signs of falling apart."
Latimer is a Kent resident until October. He will turn pro after the Shaw Cup and move to West Palm Beach, Fla., to play the Gateway and other minitours.
Meanwhile, Latimer has dominated area amateur tournaments the way Arnold Palmer did when he was in the Coast Guard in the early 1950s.
Two months ago, he topped an excellent field in the 79th Northeast Ohio Amateur Invitational by 15 strokes, the second-largest victory in tournament history. Last Tuesday he was the medalist in the U.S. Amateur sectional qualifier, posting a 68 at Red Tail in Avon.
"This has been a heck of a summer," Latimer said. "What have I done different from a year ago? My mentality this year is to get leads in tournaments and extend them everyday.
"It was a little tougher to score low [Sunday]. Pins were tough to get to. They always seemed to be in front when the wind was with us and in the back of greens when we hit into the wind."
It didn't stop Latimer from scoring birdies on three of his first four holes Sunday. He reached the par-5, 530-yard first hole with a driver and gap wedge, and two-putted from 40 feet. On the toughest hole on the course - the par-4, 468-yard third hole - he again hit drive and gap wedge to 10 feet.
He increased his lead to 11 strokes when he birdied the par-5, 586-yard fourth hole with a driver, 5-iron and pitch to 10 feet.
"My play has improved so much because I get in good position off the tee," Latimer said. "My putting has also improved since I've switched to a belly putter. It's hot right now . . . I make everything inside 10 feet."