Booker Wins 78th Texas Senior Amateur Championship
SAN ANTONIO—Mike Booker on Sunday took another step toward solidifying himself as one of the best competitive amateurs in Texas golf history.
With four-shot victory over Fort Worth’s John Grace and San Antonio’s Bruce Niles at the 78th Texas Senior Amateur, The Woodlands resident captured his eighth career Texas Golf Association championship. On a course that demands steady, disciplined play – historic Oak Hills Country Club – Booker was the epitome of consistency in posting rounds of 71-73-72 to finish at 3-over-par 216.
Grace, a 2012 Texas Golf Hall of Fame inductee who has won every TGA individual state title and four Texas Mid-Amateurs, shot Sunday’s low round. The 67-year-old tamed Oak Hills CC with a smooth 1-under 70 to grab a piece of second place at 7-over 220. Niles, a member at Oak Hills CC, finished with a 3-over 74 to register his 7-over 220.
It was Booker’s week, however, and he relished the moment.
“To win another TGA statewide event is very fulfilling,” he said. “For me it means that I’m still able to get it done.”
He’s been getting it done for years.
Booker has four statewide titles to his name – the 2014 Texas Senior Four-Ball, 2013 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play and 2003 Texas Mid-Amateur included – in addition to four South Texas championships. His victory today was his second at the venerable Oak Hills CC. He also won the 2013 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play title at the challenging parkland course built by the famed A.W. Tillinghast in 1921.
“This is a thinking man’s course,” said Booker, the TGA’s Senior Player of the Year in 2012 and ’14. “You have to be accurate. I’ll tell you, today my experience in past championships helped me. Twenty years ago, I would’ve pressed it, and you can’t do that here. Instead, today I stayed disciplined. Having one of my best friends, Dave Bozeman, with me as my caddie was really special, too.”
Booker started the final round one shot behind Ivan Lawson of Cypress. While the contenders around him, Lawson included, fell prey to the perils of Oak Hills CC’s thick rough and lightning-fast greens, Booker made birdies on holes 5, 7 and 8 pushed Booker to gain a five-shot lead with 10 holes to play.
The gap narrowed after Booker went 3-over on the ninth and 10th holes combined, but three more birdies coming in gave the longtime amateur veteran the victory.
Grace understandably was disappointed that he didn’t win, but he held his head high regardless.
“Boy, this course played tough today,” said Grace, who won the 2010 Texas Senior Amateur. “I hit the ball OK, but my short game was good. I got up and down for par on the first four holes.”
Grace’s thoughts on second place?
“It’s better than third place,” he said with a wry smile.
Both Booker and Grace are in the field later this month for the U.S. Senior Amateur in New Jersey. For Booker it will be his 12th USGA national championship. For Grace, it’ll be his 44th.
Booker will look to defend his Texas Senior Amateur title next fall at the Club at Carlton Woods – his home club where he has won a record three Carlton Woods Invitational titles and multiple club championships.
In addition to Niles, two other Oak Hills CC members made the 36-hole cut this weekend. Bobby Baugh finished T11 at 14-over 227. Sam Cangelosi took T56 at 26-over 239.
One of the true gems in this part of the country, Oak Hills CC is used to playing host to major championships. The proud club was the site of the 2001 U.S. Junior Amateur and the PGA Tour’s Texas Open from 1964-94. It also hosted the Champions Tour’s AT&T Championship from 2002-10.
Oak Hills will host another major championship next year when the 107th Texas Amateur returns to the iconic club. First held in 1937, the Texas Senior Amateur is the second oldest competition conducted by the TGA. Only the Texas Amateur, which dates back to 1906, has a longer history.
For more information on the 78th Texas Senior Amateur, including complete scoring, please click here.