Stephenson, Brooks Tied for Texas Senior Amateur Lead
DALLAS – For the second consecutive year, Lewis Stephenson of Mansfield and Ed Brooks from Fort Worth will play in the final group of the Texas Senior Amateur Championship. The two stalwarts are tied for the lead of this year’s affair at 3-under-par 139 headed into Sunday’s final round at Royal Oaks Country Club.
Stephenson, the defending champion, used a pair of chip-in birdies Saturday afternoon to spark his play in the second round. He chipped in off the right side of the green on his first hole of the day – the 10th hole – and added another hole-out from off the green on his 15th hole. In all, he made six birdies on the way to a stellar 4-under 67.
“I’ve been working on my short game a lot this year,” said Stephenson, who scored a two-shot victory at the 2016 Texas Senior Amateur. “It was gratifying for that to come through today. Having two chip-ins in one day just doesn’t happen very often for me. But I’ve played solid all weekend.”
So has Brooks. He turned in a 1-under 70 in the second round after his opening round 69 on Friday. The winner of the Texas Amateur and Southern Amateur back in 1997, Brooks bounced back from a double-bogey on the first hole with a hole-out from 70 yards for an eagle on No. 5.
“Ah, that was sweet,” said Brooks, who finished third last year. “I decided to lay up at about 70 yards, which is a distance I love with a sand wedge. I had that exact number. I hit it about six feet short. I pinched it good and said, ‘Bite!’ It hopped once and trickled in the hole.”
Stephenson and Brooks take a two-shot cushion over four players into Sunday. That group at 1-under 141 includes Albany’s Mike Cotter, who turned in the low round of the tournament on Saturday. Cotter blitzed Royal Oaks for a 6-under 65 that shot him up some 36 spots on the leaderboard after his first round 76.
Cotter found his groove on Royal Oaks’ perfect, Mini Verde Ultradwarf Bermuda greens. He took 26 putts on the day, including just 11 on his second nine.
“I made a lot of good putts,” said Cotter, who finished third in the Senior Division of this summer’s West Texas Amateur. “I made a 50-footer on No. 2, a 25-footer on No. 3. On the fourth hole, I was buried in the bunker and played away from the pin. I made a 12-footer for bogey. Then I made about 25-footer on No. 8 and about 18 feet here on No. 9.”
Cotter shares third place with San Antonio’s John Pierce, Alan Hill of Spring Branch and Kyle Kelting of Amarillo. Pierce, the 2016 Texas Senior Amateur runner-up who advanced the quarterfinals of this year’s U.S. Senior Amateur, shot an even-par 71 on Saturday. Hill, who won the 1999 and 2004 Texas Mid-Amateur titles, also signed for 71. Kelting, who co-led with Brooks after the first round, posted a 2-over 73 in the second round.
Tied for seventh place at 2-over 144 – five shots behind the leaders – are Fort Worth’s Hollis Sullivan, Jon Freeman of Flower Mound and 16-time Royal Oaks club champion Chuck Palmer from Dallas.
Fifty-seven players advanced past the 36-hole cut at 12-over 154 or better.
After a rainy first round, the 144 players in the field were greeted with mild, mid-80-degree temperatures and partly sunny skies. The Royal Oaks course, designed in 1969 by J. Press Maxwell, Don January and Billy Martindale and renovated by Chet Williams in 2014, held serve. The tree-lined, par-71 course played to an average score of 78.71, which was fractionally higher than Friday’s 78.50.
The 428-yard first hole was the toughest in the second round. The straight-away par 4 played to an average of 4.78. It yielded three birdies compared to 24 double-bogeys or worse.
The final round of the 2017 Texas Senior Amateur begins Sunday at 8 a.m. For more information, including complete results, click here.
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