Three Tied for Lead at 77th State Senior Amateur
FORT WORTH—Only three players in a total field of 144 managed to break par Friday at historic Shady Oaks Country Club during the first round of the 77th Texas Senior Amateur Championship. For their efforts, they share the lead at the Texas Golf Association’s final major championship of the year.
Fort Worth’s Gary Wayne Hardin and Hollis Sullivan, a Shady Oaks member and TGA Board Member, and Ken Coutant from Dallas each posted 1-under-par 70. They hold a one-shot lead over a group of five players in the 54-hole, individual stroke play event.
“I putted really well,” said Sullivan, 57, who has been a Shady Oaks member for 11 years. “I only had one three-putt, and I left myself a lot of short second putts. That’s the key around here. You have to be a good lag putter.”
Among the five competitors one stroke back at even-par 71 is Wichita Falls’ Bill Holstead, who in 1970 held off World Golf Hall of Famers Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite to win the Texas Amateur at age 23. A former Champions Tour player, Holstead is a three-time West Texas Amateur champion. He also won the West Texas Super Senior Division title in July.
Defending Senior Amateur champion and reigning TGA Senior Player of the Year Mike Peck from Irving had a rough day. He posted 7-over 78.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and opened for play in 1958, Shady Oaks played host to the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur won by George “Buddy” Marucci. For this weekend’s Texas Senior Amateur, the course measured 6,780 yards for the Senior Division and produced a first round scoring average of 77.15.
Twenty-six players are within five shots of Hardin, Sullivan and Coutant with 36 holes to play.
Shady Oaks also got the best of the Super Senior Division in the first round. Playing from 6,435 yards, it wasn’t necessarily the length that that kept all 48 players out of red numbers. Rather, it was the tricky putting surfaces that defended par. Unusually large and sloped, the billiards-table-smooth bentgrass greens average 7,700 square feet in size and registered a speed of 11.2 feet on the Stimpmeter.
For much of the day, Super Seniors struggled to match the right line with the necessary speed to sink many birdies. There were 101 double bogeys or worse on Friday compared to only 59 birdies. The Super Senior scoring average was nearly 10 shots over par at 80.67.
Marshall Utterson from Houston and Harold Speer from Mansfield turned in scores of 2-over 73 to share the first round lead in the Super Seniors Division. Horseshoe Bay’s Jess Claiborne is one shot behind at 3-over 74. Three players tied for fourth place, including Aledo’s Jody Vasquez, a former range ball shagger of the iconic Ben Hogan who in 2004 penned the book, “Afternoons with Mr. Hogan.”
Vasquez shares fourth place at 4-over 75 with Fred Clark from Kingwood and L.D. Clopton from McAllen.
The second round of the State Senior Amateur Championship begins at 8 a.m. Saturday. At the conclusion of play, the field will be cut to the low 48 scores and ties for the Senior Division and low 24 scores and ties for Super Seniors. For more information, including complete scoring, please click here.