David Keenan wins UI Open

David Keenan poses with the UI Open trophy after winning Sunday’s 36-hole tournament in Savoy. 

David Keenan shook hands with Derek Meinhart from behind the 18th green.

Meinhart issued his congratulations to the new UI Open champion. Others followed soon after.

As the final scores trickled in from the last groups remaining on the course, and University of Illinois director of golf Mike Wallner posted them on the whiteboard behind the 18th green, it quickly became evident Keenan was going to win rather comfortably.

Before he teed it up Sunday at the 66th UI Open, Keenan had a score in mind: He was aiming to shoot 10-under 134 over two rounds.

Keenan did one better, not aware that he would be breaking a tournament record in the process.

The 2009 News-Gazette All-Area Boys' Golfer of the Year — who went on to play golf for Parkland College and Chicago State after a successful prep career at Salt Fork — finished at 11-under 133 for the tournament. His 9-under 63 tied a course record at the University of Illinois Orange Course in Savoy.

Keenan was seven shots clear of a two-way tie for second, with Conor Butts and Ben Crane both shooting 4-under 140 for the tournament.

"It all just came together. A round like a 63 feels like it's been out there for me," said Keenan, who also won the event in 2016. "But everything just has to click together and (Sunday) just happened to be that day. ... It looks like I kind of blew everyone away a little bit."

With soft conditions due to Saturday's dousing rain, which resulted in all 36 holes of the tournament being played Sunday using shotgun starts in the morning and early afternoon, Keenan felt low scores were out there.

So did five-time UI Open winner Tim Hoss Jr.

"Forty-eight hours ago, the course was rock hard. It was so hard you had a hard time stopping a ball on the greens," said Hoss, who tied for fourth after a final round 69 moved him to 3-under 141. "All of the sudden, we got that rain (on Saturday) and it was really scoreable (Sunday)."

A year ago, Keenan, who was playing in the same group as Meinhart and Hoss for the final round, made a late charge with four birdies on the final seven holes, but Meinhart flushed a pitching wedge on the final hole and closed out his second consecutive UI Open victory.

Seeking a third straight title, Meinhart tied for fourth alongside Hoss.

"A 63, man, that's phenomenal," Hoss said of Keenan's score. "He broke my tournament record. We've got some new records to shoot for now I guess."

Keenan had a few interested onlookers coming down the stretch, with his dad and wife trailing in a golf cart watching everything unfold.

He put on a show, too.

Keenan knocked it to within a few feet of the cup on the 376-yard par-4 third hole for a birdie and hit the green in two on the 561-yard par-5 fourth. He two-putted from there for a second consecutive birdie.

And after everything wrapped up Sunday, Keenan planned to go out for dinner with his family and savor the win.

"I'll have a few more cold ones. Well, I guess tomorrow is Monday, so I can't get too crazy," Keenan said. "But I'm definitely going to enjoy this one."