Around the Green
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Crowded Leaderboard at State Senior Amateur
FORT WORTH—Three players are tied for the lead with one round to play in the 77th State Senior Amateur at historic Shady Oaks Country Club.
Mike Booker from The Woodlands, Ron Kilby from McAllen and Ken Coutant from Dallas on Saturday each posted 1-over-par 143s for two days’ work at the 54-hole Texas Golf Association major championship. Together they hold a one-shot lead over Lee Sandlin from Dallas.
Tied for fifth place and just two shots behind the leaders are Jerry Hudgins from Tyler and Hollis Sullivan, a Shady Oaks member and TGA Board Member. Fourteen players are within four shots of the lead.
Booker, the 2012 Senior Player of the Year, made five birdies to offset as many bogeys on his way to an even-par second round of 71. The 59-year-old president and founder of Financial Synergies Asset Management in Houston said he hit the ball better than on Friday, when he shot 1-over 72.
“Every time I play this course, I get a little more comfortable,” said Booker, who finished 10th in last year’s State Senior Amateur and third in 2012. “Everyone talks about how the greens are the defense here—and they’re right—but it’s also a very good course tee to green. It’s a great driving course, and you have to position yourself to have a chance. I just think some people underestimate how superb this course is tee to green. It’s a fantastic course.”
Kilby started on the 10th hole Saturday and proceeded to make three bogeys before turning to the front nine. He said his back loosened up halfway through the round, and his scorecard reflected it. He made birdies on the second, eighth and ninth holes to get back to even-par for the day.
“I kept the ball in good places for the most part on the front nine,” Kilby said. “Everyone says the front nine is harder, but it just sets up better to my eye than the back nine.”
Kilby, 59, owns a McAllen-based commercial real estate company that leases office space to the State of Texas. A veteran of TGA championships, Kilby won the 2011 State Senior Amateur at Bent Tree Country Club, which happens to be the host site of the 2015 Texas Amateur.
“I’m not in that field yet, but I’m working on it,” said Kilby, who also finished as runner-up at the 2013 Mid-Am Match Play Championship.
Coutant wasn’t thrilled with his second round 73, but paired with his 1-under 70 from the first round, it was good enough to share the lead with Booker and Kilby. A lifetime amateur, the 55-year-old CPA made a 30-foot birdie on the sixth hole to jumpstart his day.
“Then I hit into three feet on No. 9, but I missed the putt,” said Coutant, who plays out of Sherrill Park Golf Course and finished sixth North Region Senior Amateur this year. “That sort of put some doubt in my mind. I had three three-putts on the back nine. I need to putt better.”
Alone in fourth place and just a single shot back is Sandlin, who has posted 74-70 so far. A member of Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas, Sandlin shot the only under-par score from the morning wave of players in the second round. He put on a course management clinic, hitting 17 fairways and 15 greens.
“The big difference today was I kept the ball under the hole,” Sandlin said. “I played very efficient golf.”
Sandlin, 60, is the president of Rep Comp International, a Dallas-based sales company that services the telecommunications industry. Two weeks prior to the State Senior Amateur, he advanced to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Senior Amateur at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif.
It was his first USGA appearance.
“Playing in a USGA event was always a dream of mine,” he said.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1958, tree-lined Shady Oaks was built by famed Fort Worth benefactor Marvin Leonard. Leonard also built Colonial Country Club, one of the longstanding venues on the PGA Tour schedule.
Shady Oaks was the home club to nine-time major championship winner Ben Hogan, the iconic ball-striker from Fort Worth who passed away in 1997. The newly remodeled clubhouse at Shady Oaks houses several shrines to Hogan, including his double locker, kept behind glass in the same pristine condition as it was the last time he visited the club.
The surprisingly hilly course has been in perfect condition for the State Senior Amateur. A par-71 layout, it measured 6,780 yards for the Senior Division and produced a second round scoring average of 76.71. Forty-nine Senior Division players made the 36-hole cut at 11-over 153 and will return to Shady Oaks on Sunday for the final round.
In the Super Senior Division, Aledo’s Jody Vasquez shot a second round 3-over 74 to take the lead at 7-over 149 for 36 holes. He made three birdies on the front nine, but four bogeys and a double bogey kept him out of red numbers for the day.
Vasquez holds a one-shot lead over Ray Iler from Harlingen and Chip Stewart from Dallas. Iler and Stewart totaled 8-over 150 for two days; Mansfield’s Harold Speer is two shots behind Vasquez at 9-over 151.
The Super Seniors played Shady Oaks from 6,435 yards. The second round Super Seniors scoring average was 80.17. Twenty-six Super Seniors made the 36-hole cut at 19-over 161.
The 77th State Senior Amateur concludes Sunday with the final round beginning at 8 a.m. For more information and complete scoring, please click here.