Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play

Willow Brook Country Club
July 23-26




Lawson Vaults into Lead at 78th Texas Senior Amatuer

SAN ANTONIO—When Ivan Lawson from Cypress came off the golf course midday Saturday after his second round at the 78th Texas Senior Amateur, he said he felt lucky to shoot 2-over-par 73. He had no idea how much his fortune would change over the next several hours.
At the time Lawson posted his score – which put him at 1-over 143 for the championship – he was tied for second place. But he was a distant five shots behind the first round leader, Mac McGee, who opened Friday with a 4-under 67. As Lawson finished, McGee had yet to start his second round at historic Oak Hills Country Club. When McGee got on the difficult, shot maker’s course in the afternoon, he proceeded to struggle from the start.
By the time McGee made the turn, in fact, he was 6-over for the day and 2-over for the championship. It was an unexpected slide from McGee, winner of the 2012 Senior Porter Cup and 2013 Tower Invitational.
Regardless, the turn of events moved Lawson into the lead of the 54-hole individual stroke play championship. He’ll start Sunday’s final round with a one-shot lead over 2014 TGA Senior Player of the Year Mike Booker from the Woodlands.
“My goal this week was to play my best and make the cut,” said Lawson, a 65-year-old Competency Manager for an oil and gas services company. “I didn’t imagine I’d be in the lead, especially with the great players here this week. Guys like Bob Kearney and Mike Booker, I’ve played with them in Houston. They’re usually winning golf tournaments.”
Now Lawson has his chance.
It is, however, a bit of rarified air. Lawson said several years ago he took four years off from competitive golf when his job relocated him to Dubai. His top finishes in TGA events are a T13 at the 2013 South Texas Senior Amateur, a 23rd-place finish at the 2014 South Texas Senior Am and a T26 in 2014 at the South Texas Four-Ball Championship with partner Eric Alam.
“I just feel fortunate that I was able to get it in with 73 today,” he said. “I’ve been hitting the ball well, but the golf course was set up tough today. The holes were difficult to putt.”
As for the elephant in the room, what does Lawson think about potentially winning the second oldest men’s state championship in Texas?
“I’m not even thinking about winning,” he said. “I won’t be thinking about it tomorrow, either. I’ll be thinking about hitting it in the middle of the fairway.”
That’s a mindset Booker can appreciate. The 60-year-old Principal Owner of an assets management firm in Houston has used a similar outlook to win golf tournaments for decades. The former All-American and national champion at the University of Houston won the 2014 Texas Four-Ball Championship with Mike Peck from Irving; Booker won the 2013 Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship here at Oak Hills CC; he advanced to the Sweet 16 at the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur and has played in 11 other USGA national championships.
As for this week, Booker put together rounds of 71-73 and sits one shot behind Lawson. He said he didn’t hit the ball Saturday as well as he did Friday. He started the second round with a bogey on the first hole and suffered two more on the day. He rallied, however, with birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. From 245 yards out on the 527-yard, par-5 15th, Booker knocked his 3-wood on the green and two-putted for birdie.
“I wasn’t quite as sharp today,” said Booker, who also won the 2012 TGA Senior Player of the Year award. “I made a couple birdies to salvage it, but I really didn’t play that well.”
The best round of the day came from someone who knows almost the bumps and subtle breaks of iconic Oak Hills CC as well as anyone. Bruce Niles, a member at the club since 2008, shot a 2-under 69 to jump up 30 spots the leaderboard into third place at 4-over 146. Niles made four birdies on an extremely demanding course that features thick round, century-old live oaks that protect the narrow fairways and some of the quickest Bermuda grass greens in the state.
“The pace of the greens is faster than what we’re used to seeing,” Niles said. “But the course is in really good shape. It’s tough, but it’s fair. If you hit a good shot, you’re rewarded. If you don’t you’re punished.”
Niles said he and his fellow members were excited to showcase Oak Hills CC to the best seniors in Texas. They’re equally eager to play host to the 107th Texas Amateur next summer.
“As a membership, we’re really proud of this course,” Niles said. “We know it could be one of the best in South Texas with a little fine tuning.”
Rounding out the top five were Larry Nunez from Austin and Lewis Stephenson from Mansfield. They’re tied for fourth place at 5-over 147. Nunez shot 2-over 73 on Saturday; Stephenson posted 3-over 74.
McGee, the first round leader, fell back with an 85.
“On this course, if you miss fairways and greens, it’s going to be brutal,” McGee said. “I really didn’t play that much worse today. I just missed a few more fairways.”
Fifty-nine players made the 36-hole cut at 15-over 157.
This year’s Texas Senior Amateur is the sixth TGA major championship conducted at Oak Hills CC. In 1998, the last time the club hosted the Texas Senior Amateur, Texas Golf Hall of Famer Don Addington won a record-breaking sixth title. In addition to many other championships, Oak Hills hosted the first PGA Tour Championship in 1987 and the 2001 U.S. Junior Amateur.
The final round of the 78th Texas Senior Amateur begins Sunday at 8 a.m. For more information, including pairings, tee times and complete first round scoring, please click here.


Miskell and Hallmark win 2016 Texas Four-Ball Championship

BOERNE—From 195 yards on the final hole of the 2016 Texas Four-Ball Championship at picturesque Cordillera Ranch, Terrence Miskell on Sunday striped a 4-iron to 15 feet, then rolled in the eagle putt to win the Championship Division title in style along with partner Trey Hallmark.
In this their seventh four-ball event together, Miskell and Hallmark teamed to shoot rounds of 64-69 to win with a final score of 11-under-par 133. Midday Saturday, thunderstorms and lightning led to a four-hour delay that caused TGA Officials to shorten the championship to 36 holes. As soon as the championship concluded just shy of noon Sunday, the skies opened again and brought down another heavy downpour.
Miskell, from New Braunfels, and Boerne’s Hallmark won the Texas Four-Ball by three shots. They defeated three teams that finished at 8-under 136. The teams of San Antonio’s Colby Harwell and Brett Nichols; Barrett Sandefur and David Backus from Austin; and 2015 TGA Player of the Year Joshua Irving from Dallas and Scott Volpitto from Fort Worth all shared second place.
For Miskell, a member at nearby Sonterra, the victory was his fourth Texas Four-Ball title and eighth overall TGA Championship. A two-time college All-American at USC and Fresno State, Miskell also won the Four-Ball in 2003 and ’04 with Titus Harris and in 2007 with Trip Kuehne. Miskell was the TGA Player of the Year in 2004, ’06 and ’07.
“This one is really sweet because it’s been nine years since my last TGA win,” Miskell said. “In that time I’ve had shoulder surgery, elbow surgery and back surgery. So to get one of these again is pretty special.”
Hallmark, a Cordillera Ranch member since 2013, gave his team a leg up on the field with his knowledge of the course. A two-time Match Play Club Champion at Cordillera Ranch, Hallmark knows the subtle breaks of the Jack Nicklaus-designed greens as well as anyone. Of course, the flip side of that can be the burden to win on your home course because everyone expects it.
“It’s always tough to play on your own course because there is a little bit more pressure with everyone around,” Hallmark said. “It’s a big advantage here knowing the greens and knowing how the course plays. Especially with the weather and the wind changing, there’s definitely an advantage. The home course advantage is big.”
The Texas Four-Ball Championship is the second team title for Miskell and Hallmark this year. In February, they shot 61-66 to win the San Antonio Golf Association’s Regional Four-Ball event.
Despite Saturday’s weather delay, players in the Senior and Super Senior Divisions finished their second rounds and two teams were crowned champions. The Senior Division title went to Richard Koenig and Aaron Billings from Horseshoe Bay with a score of 10-under 134. The Senior Division is played by amateurs aged 55 years and older. Koenig and Billings held off a pair of teams from the Houston area by a single shot. Jonathan Shipley and John Dowdall, as well as Bob Kearney and Gary Durbin, tied for second place at 9-under 135.
“It was a very, very tough field and we knew it,” said Koenig, who holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the 17th hole. “We knew we had to play really well.”
In the Super Senior Division (65 years and older), Bob Hullender from San Antonio and Mike Arnold from Windcrest won the Texas Four-Ball for the third time. The duo also won in 2013 and 2014. This year, they finished with a score of 7-under 137 to clip Sam Boyd from Horseshoe Bay and Ken Redfern from Austin by one stroke.
“The first three holes after the delay were tough, but we had to scramble for some pars,” Hullender said. “Once we kind of got back into the game we ended up making three birdies in a row.”
The TGA extends its warmest and most sincere appreciation to the staff and members of Cordillera Ranch, as well as our volunteers, for their integral roles in making the 2016 Texas Four-Ball Championship a memorable and successful event. For more information about this championship, click here.