South Team Victorious at Texas Shootout
HOUSTON – After 54 holes and three different forms of match play, the South Team captured its eighth Texas Shootout victory. Following Saturday’s Foursome and Four-Ball Matches, Captains Mike Booker (South) and Mike Peck (North), made their singles match selections as part of the Saturday evening Texas Shootout festivities. With captains alternating their selections in a strategic fashion, 24 of the state’s best Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur golfers were pitted against one another for the final round at the Cypress Creek Couse at historic Champions Golf Club.
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, which uses a Nassau scoring system. 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.
Following Foursome and Four-Ball matches Saturday, the South Team led by five points after teams split morning Foursomes with nine points apiece. In a race to get to 36.5 points and secure possession of the Texas Shootout trophy, teams set out Sunday morning in pursuit of the 36 remaining match points to be had. Players eagerly awaited a 30-minute delay to starting times as a result of a heavy morning fog in the Cypress area, before clearer skies prevailed mid-morning.
Leading off for the North Team was twelve-time Texas Shootout team member, Aaron Hickman, who rallied yesterday to earn three points in his Four-Ball Match with partner Rob Couture. Hickman – a quick player in his own right – got the North out to a fast start and earned a three-point sweep over Patrick Datz.
In the second Mid-Amateur match of the morning, South Team rookie Seth Stuart took two-and-a-half points out of a possible three from veteran Zach Atkinson. Atkinson and Stuart rattled off four birdies and three eagles on the front side to halve front nine points. However, making the turn it was Stuart who capitalized on the back nine, earning an additional two points for final nine and overall victories.
With the North Team holding a marginal 3.5 to 2.5 point lead in singles matches, South Team member Robert Evans held strong through 18 holes to split points with Chris Wheeler. Evans, who was held off the board in Saturday’s Four-Ball Matches, helped the South regain a cushion on their lead with six points over the north heading into the final Mid-Amateur match in the morning pod.
Formidable opponents Rob Couture (North) and Jay Reynolds (South) would complete the first wave of Mid-Amateur matches, where Couture eventually prevailed with a two points to one point victory. The match would be one of the few in the early matches that saw all 18 holes.
The middle portion of the singles match draw turned to the Senior team members who squared-off in four matches. Steady play from South Seniors Mike Booker and John Pierce saw both team members sweep three points in their respective matches from North Team counterparts Mike Peck and Wayne Wright. After three rounds of matches, Pierce had managed all nine possible points – three point sweeps – in each of his matches.
In the balance of the Senior matches, Bobby Baugh and Dave Davis, along with Gary Durbin and John Grace kept things close, splitting all available points to earn one and a half points for each side. Despite having a hot hand coming off their three-point sweep in Saturday’s Four-Ball Matches, Baugh and Durbin were kept at bay by North team members Davis and Grace in their respective matches.
Heading into the final wave of Mid-Amateur matches, the North Team trailed in the singles contest by four points – and nine overall – with 12 points still remaining on the board. Answering the call for a late rally by the North side were Brad Gibson, who defeated Nicholas Cristea for 2.5 points, and Rick Sulzer who toppled long-hitting local John Hunter by the same point margin.
Despite the North Team having closed their trailing margin to five after squaring up point totals in singles matches, South Team member Danny Simmerman provided some insurance and sealed the victory for the South Team with a three-point sweep of CJ Brock in the second to last match. The final match between Gary Ezmerlian and John Dowdall saw Ezmerlian reduce the deficit and pick-up 2.5 points for the North team.
Despite a close point race in singles matches Sunday, the South Team proved once again that home-field played an advantage in regaining possession of the Texas Shootout Trophy. The North side put together 17.5 points in singles matches, one point shy of their counterparts in the final round and six total points short. In 2015, the North Team bested the South Team, 38-34, at Dallas National Golf Club. However, in the 14 year history of the annual matches between regions, the South now leads the overall series 8-6.
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.
The Texas Golf Association sends it’s sincere thanks to Champions Golf Club – its staff and membership – for their hard work and hospitality in hosting the season-ending Texas Shootout. A special thank you to Mr. Jackie Burke Jr., co-founder of Champions Golf Club, for being on-hand throughout the Texas Shootout Matches.
Match results, recaps and additional information are available at www.txga.org or by clicking here.