Fred Wedel Wins 107th Texas Amateur
SAN ANTONIO—Fred Wedel’s first Texas Golf Association event was a memorable one. The recent Pepperdine graduate from The Woodlands on Sunday won the 107th Texas Amateur presented by Insperity with a four-round total of 5-under-par 279 at iconic Oak Hills Country Club.
With only this summer’s U.S. Amateur standing between himself and turning professional, the 21-year-old Wedel’s amateur days are numbered. Ranked 252 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, he decided winning the state’s oldest and most prestigious amateur tournament was something he needed to do.
“Winning the state amateur is something to cross off my bucket list,” said Wedel, who shot a 1-under 70 in the final round to beat McKinney’s Branson Davis by one shot. “I wish I had played in more TGA tournaments. This is such a well-run event.”
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Zach Atkinson, the 2004 Texas Amateur champion and member of the 2014 U.S. State Team Championship squad that won a national title, came in third place. He shot a 2-over 73 in the final round and finished at 3-under 281. Recent U.S. Four Ball Champion Benjamin Baxter from Flower Mound shot the round of the day with a sizzling 6-under 65 and vaulted into a tie for fourth place with Austin’s Wehman Hopke. Baxter and Hopke posted final scores of 2-under 282.
Wedel began the final round two shots behind leader Chad Sewell from Conroe. Just 17 years old, Sewell had a chance to become the 107-year-old event’s youngest winner. He back-pedaled Sunday and finished tied for 13th at 3-over 287. Wedel, meanwhile, made six birdies over the course the day to offset five bogeys, including one on the final hole. Holding a two-shot lead with one hole to play, Wedel missed a three-footer for par on the 72nd hole. It didn’t matter, but it did give the self-effacing Wedel ammunition to criticize himself.
Each day throughout the 72-hole tournament, Wedel downplayed his performance and talked more about the putts he missed than the great shots he executed or gutsy birdies he drained on the challenging A.W. Tillinghast-designed course. He kicked himself verbally even though he was in contention from the first round.
“Anything but a win here this week was going to be a disappointment,” he said minutes after the victory. “I played really good golf over the course of my senior year, and I just came in here expecting to win.”
After starting the day with two early bogeys, Wedel used birdies on the seventh, ninth and 10th holes to
claw to top of the leaderboard. For two hours, Wedel, Davis, Sewell and Atkinson took turns passing each other for the lead.
Prior to the championship, several Oak Hills members said whichever player made it through holes 11, 12 and 13—a stretch known as “Tillie’s Run” and the hardest on the course—at even par or better would win the championship. On Sunday, Wedel was a 2-foot tap-in from going par-par-par on Tillie’s Run. Then he lipped out the short putt on the 13th hole.
Wedel bounced right back, however, and sunk birdies on the 14th and 15th holes. In typical fashion, Wedel wanted to talk more about the miss on 13 than the spectacular par saves he made on the two previous holes.
“I just expect more out of myself,” said Wedel, who in 2014 advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur. “I’m normally a really good putter inside of 8 feet. Out here I missed one from 3 feet or shorter every day.”
He wasn’t alone. Everyone in the field struggled at one point during the championship. That’s what Oak Hills does to even the best golfers. For the week, the heavily treed course with small, lightning-fast greens played to a stroke average of 75.01. Holes 11-13 ranked as the three most difficult. Wedel never shot worse than 70 in his four rounds.
Now he adds his name to the century-old H.L. Edwards Memorial Trophy alongside the likes of Masters champions Ben Crenshaw and Charles Coody and multiple PGA Tour winners Scott Verplank and Mark Brooks.
“It means a lot to me,” Wedel said. “To be a part of a list like that is special. I’m obviously nowhere near those ranks, but I hope to make a name for myself someday. I’ll always be able to look back and say I won this tournament, too.”
Those who fell short had plenty of reasons to leave Oak Hills with their pride intact. Davis, the second-place finisher, made three front nine birdies without a bogey to grab a share of the lead at the turn, for example. He ran into trouble on Tillie’s Run with bogeys on the 450-yard, par-4 11th and 474-yard, par-4 12th. He made pars in from there, unable to coax in his birdie opportunities.
“The front nine was pretty much on cruise control,” Davis said. “The back nine was a little bit of a grind. I hit some loose shots out there. But overall, I was pleased with how I played. It was a good week for me.”
Sewell also didn’t have to look far for positives. For the first time all week, the 36- and 54-hole leader got out of position routinely off the tee and suffered with a final round 80. Still, for someone playing in his first men’s amateur event, Sewell proved himself worthy.
“It was a huge learning experience,” said the Conroe High School senior who recently gave his verbal commitment to UT-San Antonio. “I know I have the ability to play that good, and I know I can play with these guys.”
Atkinson, who celebrated his birthday Monday and his wife’s birthday Saturday, wore a large smile on his face while holding his young son in his arms moments after signing his card on Father’s Day.
“I didn’t play bad,” said Atkinson, who won the North Texas Amateurs in 2013 and 2015. “I just didn’t make enough birdies. Fred played solid and deserved to win.”
Designed in 1922 by Tillinghast, one of the greatest golf course architects of all time, Oak Hills proved once again it is one of the best championship venues in Texas. Hosting high-profile events is stitched in the club’s DNA. Oak Hills held the inaugural PGA Tour Championship in 1987, for example. The USGA brought the U.S. Junior Amateur here in 2001. From 1961-94, the pros played the Texas Open at Oak Hills. The Champions Tour had an event at the club from 2002-10. The TGA has decided seven major championships on the shot-maker’s course, including four Texas Amateur Championships.
The TGA extends its gracious appreciation to the Oak Hills staff and members, as well as all our dedicated volunteers, for their part in making the 107th Texas Amateur presented by Insperity such a memorable week. For more information, please click here.