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Hurlbert, Smith Tied for 83rd Texas Senior Amateur Lead

WACO – Only two players broke par at venerable Ridgewood Country Club on Friday during the first round of the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur. Craig Hurlbert from Magnolia and Houston’s Scott Smith both fired rounds of 1-under-par 69 to share the lead headed into Saturday’s second round.

Hurlbert, the No. 1-ranked senior in Golfweek’s amateur rankings, made five birdies but ended his day with a double-bogey on the difficult par-4 18th hole. The 58-year-old venture capitalist is riding a wave of momentum. He’s already won four national amateur events this year.

In January, he scored two victories in Florida: the Old Corkscrew Senior Championship and Gateway Senior Invitational. Hurlbert won the Montana State Senior Amateur in July, and he added the Golfweek Senior Match Play title in August.

He said he tries not to think too much about his recent successes while he’s competing.

“It’s golf, so I always try to tamper all that down,” Hurlbert said. “I do feel like I’ve been playing well. I have a simple routine I’ve been working through. It obviously worked today. I’ll be able to pull on some of the other tournaments I’ve played in this year and won as we get deeper into the tournament.”

Smith had two double-bogeys on his card Friday, but his six birdies were more than enough to make up for those mistakes. At age 61, the retired oil and gas businessman won the 2019 South Texas Senior Amateur and finished fifth at last year’s Texas Four-Ball Championship.

“Well I hit it close a number of times today, close enough to knock them in,” said Smith, who had five top-10 national finishes in 2019, including a T5 at the Carlton Woods Senior Invitational. “I just love these old school courses.”

Third place belongs to John Derrick, a Ridgewood member playing on a host club exemption. He played a steady round that featured one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars.

Tied for fourth place at 1-over 71 are Montgomery’s Tom McGraw, the runner-up at the 2006 U.S. Senior Amateur, and Bill Jackson from McKinney. Four players are tied for sixth place at 2-over 72, including 2017 Texas Senior Amateur champion Ed Brooks from Fort Worth.

A total of 18 players are within four shots of Hurlbert and Smith with 36 holes to play.

This is the first Texas Senior Amateur contested at Ridgewood Country Club, which has a long history of playing host to TGA major championships. Ed Brooks from Fort Worth won the 2019 Texas Super Senior at the scenic lakeside course. Ridgewood also has welcomed five Women’s Texas Amateurs dating back to 1956. Most recently, Annika Clark of Highlands won the 94th Women’s Texas Amateur in 2015 at Ridgewood.

Designed by Texan Ralph Plummer, Ridgewood opened for play in 1947. Plummer emphasized the property’s rolling, wooded acreage overlooking Lake Waco to create a classic, old school layout that boasts tight fairways, deep bunkers and fast, undulating green complexes. The best senior amateurs in Texas played Ridgewood from 6,467 yards in Friday’s opening round.

Defending champion Gary Durbin of Houston posted a 5-over 75. He’s tied for 26th place with 12 others, including two-time Texas Senior Amateur champion Lewis Stephenson (2016, ’18) of Mansfield and 2019 Texas Senior Player of the Year John Pierce from San Antonio.

The second round of the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur starts Saturday at 8 a.m. For more information, click here.