John Derrick Wins the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur
WACO – Most golfers know how important course knowledge is when it comes to certain venues. The trickier the track, the more crucial it is to know the lay of the land. John Derrick on Sunday proved this to be true, as the longtime Ridgewood Country Club member won the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur by one shot in extremely blustery conditions.
With winds swirling, then dropping and then gusting again in the 25-30 mph range – by far the windiest day of the 54-hole championship – Derrick held things together with two birdies, four bogeys and 12 hard-fought pars. His final round 2-over-par gave him a three-day total of 7-over 217, one stroke better than Southlake’s Mike Lohner.
Derrick shot rounds of 70-75 in the opening rounds on his home course, a 1947 Ralph Plummer-designed gem. Several of the holes run along the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Waco, and the fast-running fairways rise and fall throughout the property to create relentless uneven lies. Many of the greens sit perched above eye level from the fairways, which causes trepidation and indecisiveness on approach shots.
In short, Ridgewood is the kind of course you need to play a bunch to feel confident in your decisions. That was no problem for Derrick, an eight-time club champion who has been a member since 1996. He estimated he’s played more than 2,000 rounds on the old school, tree-lined course.
“Today, the tough wind conditions really helped me,” said Derrick, who also won the 2019 Sunnehanna Senior Invitational and was runner-up at the 2010 TGA Mid-Amateur Match Play. “It swirls around here and it’s confusing. Some of the guys who haven’t played around here had a disadvantage because they didn’t know what the wind was going to do. I definitely think I had a big advantage.”
Besides Lohner, who missed a 6-foot putt on the 72nd hole that would’ve forced a playoff, Magnolia’s Craig Hurlbert was one of the players confounded by the winds on Sunday. The nation’s No. 1-ranked senior amateur in the Golfweek rankings, Hurlbert said the conditions kept him off-balance all day.
“It wasn’t just windy out there,” said Hurlbert, the 18- and 36-hole leader who has won four national amateur championships this year. “It was gusty, too. It got me five or six times. I was totally out of sync and had no idea what to do. Overall, the wind was very inconsistent. It was down. It was up. It was just a hard day today. John played very well. He knows where to hit the ball on this golf course. I’m not surprised that someone from this club won the tournament.”
While those around him struggled to pick targets and select proper clubs, Derrick kept his head down and made pars to stay in the hunt. It was one of those on the eighth hole, he said, that really turned the tide in his favor.
“I hit it about 40 feet past the hole,” he said. “It was a really quick, downhill putt. I was just trying to two-putt it. And I made it. That gave me some really good momentum.”
Derrick also rolled in a 20-footer for par on No. 14 and made a solid two-putt par on No. 17 to keep Lohner and Hurlbert from catching him.
Ridgewood Head Professional Jimmy Cunningham, along with scores of friends and club members, crowded around the 18th green to watch Derrick cap off the major championship victory.
“It’s always fantastic to have one of your members compete in one of these prestigious events, let alone win it,” Cunningham said. “John is a dedicated player who practices a lot, and this week he showed why he’s such a strong competitor. I know it means a lot to him, but it also means a lot to me and the membership. We’re all so proud of him.”
The TGA extends its most sincere gratitude to Ridgewood, its staff and members for their hospitality and generosity throughout the championship week, as well as the week leading up to the event. Special thanks are due to General Manager Bill Horton, Head Golf Professional Jimmy Cunningham, Superintendent Travis Moore, Catering Director Camy Baban and Executive Chef Bernard Hurley.
We’re also endeared to the TGA Volunteers, who took time out from their busy lives to help us create a memorable week for all the competitors in the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur. For more information, click here.