South Team Takes Lead in Texas Shootout
HOUSTON – 24 of the state’s best Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur golfers took to the Cypress Creek Couse at historic Champions Golf Club Saturday to compete in the 2016 Texas Shootout.
The season-ending tradition, conducted by the Texas Golf Association, is an invitation-only event and features the top 12 players (eight mid-amateurs and four seniors) from North Texas squaring off against their counterparts from South Texas in a Ryder Cup-style competition. Players earn their way onto their respective teams by accumulating points throughout the year in designated TGA regional and statewide tournaments. North and South regions are defined as either being above or below the 31’ parallel, located in Salado, Texas.
During a reception Friday evening, North Captain Mike Peck and South Captain Mike Booker selected their respective players who would eventually square-off against one another in today’s two rounds of matches. The format for the Shootout includes foursome, four-ball and singles matches. Each match employs the Nassau scoring system, which awards three points – one point each for front nine, back nine and 18 holes – making for 72 available points. The first team to accumulate 36½ points is the winner. Today saw teams compete in the first two formats – foursomes and four-ball match play – over two rounds at Champions Golf Club.
Starting the morning matches with foursome match play, commonly referred to as ‘alternate shot’, both teams sought to gain an early advantage before heading into the afternoon. The first match of the day, featuring Mid-Amateurs Zach Atkinson and Christopher Wheeler playing against Jay Reynolds and Robert Evans went all 18 holes, where the south side of Reynolds/Evans eventually prevailed, finishing two-under in their final four holes.
Before concluding the morning foursome matches, it was the South Team Seniors of John Pierce and Bobby Baugh who toppled opponents John Grace and Wayne Wright with a three-point sweep, pulling their South squad a single point ahead. However, with two matches still on the golf course, the North Mid-Amateur side of Sulzer and Brock managed to close the gap on the South Team earning 2.5 points over opponents John Dowdall and Seth Stuart. At the conclusion of the six morning foursome matches, the North and South teams were tied at 9 points each, splitting the 18 available points.
Tied going into the afternoon Four-Ball Matches, veteran North Team members Zach Atkinson and Brad Gibson sought to get the defending North Team out to a quick start, eventually earning all three points over their South Team opponents, Nicholas Cristea and Robert Evans. Atkinson, who triumphed earlier in the year at the Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play, coupled with Gibson to put together narrow margins of victory on either side of their scorecard.
South Team Member, Jay Reynolds, paired with a new partner for the afternoon matches in Patrick Datz, carried the momentum from his morning Foursome Match. Reynolds and Datz picked up 2.5 points over Chris Wheeler and Gary Ezmerlian to bring the South Team within a half-point of the North side.
South Team momentum would carry even further in the Senior matches as Bobby Baugh and Champions Member Gary Durbin, along with Team Captain Mike Booker and John Pierce swept three points each from their North Team opponents. A total of six points earned from the South’s Senior Team Members, positioned the South Side with an 8.5 to 3.5 point lead over the North Team as Four-Ball Matches continued.
Rounding out the afternoon Four-Ball Matches and the balance of the Mid-Amateur Team Members, the North and South Teams exchanged three-point sweeps, shutting out their respective opponents. North Team Members, Rob Couture and Aaron Hickman defeated John Dowdall and Seth Stuart through 17 holes to earn their three points. Not to be outdone, the South Team took three points of their own in the final match of the day when John Hunter and Danny Simmerman defeated CJ Brock and Rick Sulzer to give the South Side a five-point overall lead in the matches.
Heading into tomorrow’s final round and the always exciting singles match format, North Team Skipper Mike Peck looks to his team as they seek to defend their 2015 title, despite a five point deficit. With half of the points (36) resting on the singles matches, there is sure to be some excitement down the stretch. In 2015, the North Team bested the South Team, 38-34, at Dallas National Golf Club. However, in the 13 year history of the annual matches between regions, the South leads the overall series 7-6.
Designed by Ralph Plummer, the Cypress Creek Course at Champions Golf Club opened for play in 1959. With more than 70,000 trees, wide fairways and enormous greens, it remains one of America's premier tournament sites. Among the many elite championships that have been contested on Cypress Creek over the years include the 1967 Ryder Cup, 1969 U.S. Open, 1993 U.S. Amateur and 1998 U.S. Women’s Amateur, and five PGA Tour Championships.
Pairings, scoring updates and recaps are available at txga.org and by following the Texas Golf Association Twitter Handle, @TexasGolfAssn. Final round singles matches will commence at 8:00 a.m. on the first tee at the Cypress Creek Course tomorrow.
2016 TEXAS SHOOTOUT NOTES:
North Team: Zach Atkinson, CJ Brock, Rob Couture, *Dave Davis, Gary Ezmerlian, Brad Gibson, *John Grace, Aaron Hickman, *Mike Peck (Playing Captain), Rick Sulzer, Chris Wheeler, and *Wayne Wright.
South Team: *Bobby Baugh, *Mike Booker (Playing Captain), Nicholas Cristea, Patrick Datz, John Dowdall, *Gary Durbin, Robert Evans, John Hunter, *John Pierce, Jay Reynolds, Danny Simmerman, and Seth Stuart.
*Indicates senior player representative
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