Wyatt Koricanek Grabs 36-Hole Lead at the 112th Texas Amateur
MIDLAND – Wyatt Koricanek was one of the last players to get into the field at the 112th Texas Amateur. Through 36 holes at Midland Country Club, the Yorktown resident finds himself in first place after a stellar 5-under-par 67 in Friday’s Round 2.
The second alternate out of the May 13 qualifying tournament at Vaaler Creek Golf Club in Blanco, Koricanek (pronounced “cora-chaun-ick”) got the call that he had a spot in the Texas Amateur last Sunday night. Four days later, he made the most of the opportunity and fired a 4-under 68 in the opening round.
At 9-under 135 overall, Koricanek leads Chris Berzina from Fort Worth by three shots.
“I was dying to get in,” Koricanek said. “I was really excited to get that call, like ready to go. You hope to play well in every tournament you go to, but I honestly felt like I was going to play well here.”
With 11 birdies and just two bogeys through 36 holes, the Texas State University senior validated his intuition. He could be one shot better, too. On the par-4 seventh, he hit a sand wedge from 114 yards right at the flag. It took one hop, rattled in and out of the hole and stopped a foot away.
“I thought it was in,” he said. “I heard it click, and there it was a foot or two away. I’ve never eagled a par 4, but there’s nothing wrong with a tap-in birdie.”
Berzina, a junior at TCU, holds second place at 6-under 138. On Friday, he shot a second consecutive 3-under 69 on the strategic and narrow Midland Country Club course. He poured in five birdies against a pair of bogeys.
“Today was a lot more of a solid round than yesterday,” said Berzina, who finished T15 in the 2018 Texas Junior Amateur at Horseshoe Bay Resort. “Yesterday, I had a little birdie streak going. Today, I had more pars all around and a couple three-putt bogeys. But I answered most of those bogeys with birdies.”
Tyler’s Clay Hodge, the first-round leader, shares third place with San Antonio’s Andres Acevedo at 5-under 139. Leander’s Ryan O’Rear, Odessa’s Blake Parks and Jake Doggett from Hutto are tied for fifth place at 4-under 140.
Ten players are within six shots of Koricanek’s lead.
Fifty-five players advanced through the 36-hole cut at 3-over 147. As expected, Midland Country Club has tested the best amateurs in the state; currently 21 players are under par for the championship. That’s less than 15% of the field.
In Round 2, the competitors played the par-72 course from 7,321 yards; the stroke average was 74.42, less than a shot better than it was in Round 1.
For the second straight day, a par 3 proved to be the most difficult test. On Friday it was the 232-yard eighth hole, which had a stroke average of 3.51. There were 12 double bogeys or worse on the testy No. 8 hole, which played straight into the wind on Friday. The par-5 fourth hole yielded the most birdies at 42.
In the first two rounds combined, the best amateurs in Texas averaged 74.88 on the Ralph Plummer-designed and D.A Weibring/Steve Wolfard-enhanced Midland Country Club course.
Clay Hodge’s first round 64 broke Midland Country Club’s competitive course record since the course was completely renovated in 2015.
Hodge rolled in six birdies Thursday and holed-out a wedge from 145 yards for eagle on the par-4 18th hole. He was bogey-free and finished at 8-under.
Midland Country Club’s previous competitive course record was 65, shot by Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz in a 2018 U.S. Amateur qualifier.
Young & the Restless
Every year at the Texas Amateur, the field of competitors runs the gamut from young juniors to veteran senior amateurs. This year was no different.
The youngest player at Midland Country Club this week is Luke Hagan, a 16-year-old from Austin. Ben DeLaRosa from Dallas also is 16. Both have birthdays coming up this summer; Hagan is just six days older than DeLaRosa.
The oldest player in the field is 62-year-old Ken Coutant from Dallas.
The average age of the 144 participants is 28, which is a little on the old side compared to recent years.
Round 3 of the 112th Texas Amateur begins Saturday at 7:30 a.m. For more information, including complete scoring, click here.