Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play
Willow Brook Country Club
Hallmark and Miskell Lead Texas Four-Ball after Round 1
BOERNE—Local duo Trey Hallmark from Boerne and three-time TGA Player of the Year Terrence Miskell from New Braunfels on Friday blistered Cordillera Ranch for a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 to lead the Championship Division after one round at the 2016 Texas Four-Ball Championship.
Hallmark is a member at Cordillera Ranch, and Miskell plays out of nearby Sonterra Golf Club. They’ve been four-ball partners for more than a year; the Texas Four-Ball Championship is their seventh event as partners. In February they combined to shoot 61-66 to win the San Antonio Golf Association’s Regional Four-Ball Championship.
“We’ve been playing with each other long enough that we know each other’s games well,” said Hallmark, who made seven birdies in the first round. “If one of us gets in trouble out there, we know the other will be there for us. When we both get it going – like we did today – then we can make a lot of birdies. We birdied the same hole a few times today and only had one par putt longer than 10 feet.”
Miskell, the 2004, ’06 and ’07 Player of the Year, has won three Texas Four-Ball titles. In 2003-04, he teamed with Titus Harris to win back-to-back Four-Balls. In 2007, Miskell teamed with U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Trip Kuehne to win the Texas Four-Ball. That same year, Miskell also won the Texas Mid-Amateur and Public Links Championships.
On Friday at Cordillera Ranch, he made five birdies with a hot putter.
“Inside of six feet, I can’t miss,” he said. “That takes pressure off so many other parts of my game. It takes pressure off my lag putting, and it even helps take pressure off my approach shots.”
Hallmark and Miskell lead three teams by two shots. Chris Goodspeed from Coppell and Rick Sulzer from Carrollton combined to shoot 6-under 66. Twice they teamed for three consecutive birdies – on holes 1, 2 and 3, then later on 14, 15 and 16 – but suffered a double-bogey on the 434-yard, par-4 17th hole. Randy Lance from Spring and William Piper from Cypress also turned in a 6-under 66. They, along with Goodspeed and Sulzer, are tied for second place with 2015 TGA Player of the Year Joshua Irving from Dallas and Scott Volpitto from Fort Worth.
Irving and Volpitto carded six birdies without a bogey. They said the key to their play was pretty simple.
“Patience,” said Volpitto, who rolled in four birdies. “We knew there would be birdies out there, but with any four-ball tournament, you have to stay patient.”
Tied for fifth place are Austin’s David Backus and Barrett Sandefur and Jeff Brame from Cypress and Houston’s Jimmy Vandagriff. Both teams registered 5-under 67s. Twenty-eight of the 40 teams in the Championship Division finished under par, but Cordillera Ranch stood tall with a course average of 77.00.
In the Senior Division (55 years and older), Bob Kearney and Gary Durbin from Houston sit atop the leaderboard with 6-under 66. In a round that included five birdies and one bogey, Kearney supplied the highlight with an eagle-2 on the 390-yard, par-4 17th. Kearney and Durbin lead by one shot over the teams of Mike Booker of Houston and Pat Youngs from San Antonio and Jonathon Shipley of Katy and John Dowdall from Fulshear.
Booker, the 2015 TGA Senior Player of the Year and winner of the 2015 Texas Senior Amateur, combined with Youngs for six birdies against a lone bogey. Shipley and Dowdall made seven birdies and two bogeys.
In the Super Senior Division (65 years and older), two teams are tied for the lead. Bob Hullender from San Antonio and Mike Arnold from Windcrest posted 3-under 69 and share first place with Sam Boyd from Horseshoe Bay and Ken Redfern from Austin. Bud Bartels and John Jones from Houston finished at 2-under 70 and trail the Super Seniors leaders by one shot.
This is the third TGA Championship held at Cordillera Ranch. The 2013 Texas Mid-Amateur, won by Tyler’s Clay Hodge, and the 2007 Texas Shootout, during which the North Texas team prevailed, were also played at the stunning Jack Nicklaus-designed course at the heart of the Texas Hill Country.
Located about 20 miles north of San Antonio, Cordillera Ranch has all the touches of a classic Nicklaus course. Towering oak trees, bubbling streams, elevation changes and dramatic rock outcroppings all combine to create one of the most beautiful and challenging golf experiences in Texas.
The Texas Four-Ball Championship features an 80-team starting field with three age divisions. The Championship Division (25 years and older), Seniors (55 and older) and Super Seniors (65 and older) play from different tees and are competing for separate Four-Ball titles. The format is 54-hole, four-ball stroke play.
The second round begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at Cordillera Ranch. At the conclusion of 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 44 teams and ties. For more information, including complete scoring, click here.
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.