Austyn Reily Wins the 112th Texas Amateur
MIDLAND – Minutes after Austyn Reily calmly tapped in a 3-foot par putt on Sunday to win the 112th Texas Amateur by a single shot, he didn’t credit supreme ball-striking, accuracy off the tee or a deft putting stroke for the historic victory. Reily, a University of Houston junior from Pottsboro, displayed all of those characteristics on his way to posting the winning score of 10-under-par 278. But it was something else, he said, that carried him at Midland Country Club.
“Patience and humbleness,” Reily said. “You can’t get too out in front of yourself, and you can’t get too high on a pedestal. You have to stay level-headed, as low to the ground as possible and control what you can control. And just do your best from there.”
His best was outstanding. Now his name will be etched onto the H.L. Edwards Memorial Trophy alongside the likes of Ben Crenshaw, Charles Coody, Scott Verplank and Will Zalatoris.
Reily started the final round tied for the lead with Hutto’s Jake Doggett, and despite the best efforts from a bevy of pursuers, in the end it came down to those two.
“I kind of had a feeling going into 15, the par 5, that it was just us two,” Reily said. “Once we got to 17, I knew it was definitely between us. I was one up on Jake going into 16, and then we flip-flopped and basically all square going into 17.”
The final few holes had a distinct match play feel, as Reily and Doggett separated themselves by a couple shots. Up by a shot, Reily airmailed the par-3 16th and made bogey. Doggett, a fifth-year senior at Midwestern State, made par. They were tied at 10-under with two holes to play.
Doggett then overshot the par-4 17th and made bogey, while Reily made a routine two-putt par to go back up by a shot. Doggett had a chance to force extra holes on the par-4 18th, but his birdie effort came up short. Reily shot 2-under 70 in the final round. Doggett posted 1-under 71.
“It’s so surreal,” Reily said of the accomplishment. “It hasn’t even settled in yet. Just to put my name on that trophy with so many great names, too many to count, just to put my name up there with theirs is very special to me and my family.”
In a Father’s Day twist, Reily’s mom Melissa was on the bag for her son at Midland Country Club. The two shared a tearful embrace on the 18th green. Reily said it meant the world to him to have his mom by his side; he called her his best friend.
“It was amazing,” Melissa Reily said. “It was such an honor to caddie for Austyn these past few days. I just love watching him play. I’m just so proud of him.”
Doggett represented himself well throughout the week, too. He finished in solo second at 9-under 279. The two talented amateurs were the only players in the field to post all four rounds under par on an exacting golf course that features hallway-like fairways lined on both sides with gnarly fescue and wispy grasses.
Third place belonged to JT Pittman, a UNLV junior from Monahans who set fire to the back nine at Midland Country Club in his final round. Starting at even-par for the day, the 2020 North Texas Player of the Year rolled in a 35-foot birdie on the par-4 first hole, then ran one in from 15 feet on the par-4 fifth hole.
Then Pittman found something in his iron game and started throwing darts.
“I hit it to about 2 feet on 11,” said Pittman, who won the 2020 West Texas Amateur at Bentwood Country Club. “I birdied 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.”
Six birdies in row! He tied Midland Country Club’s competitive course record with an 8-under 64. It’s the same score Tyler’s Clay Hodge shot in Thursday’s opening round.
“On the back nine, those birdies, I think my proximity to the hole was about 4 feet,” said Pittman, who posted 8-under 280 for the championship.
Clayton King from Uvalde took fourth place after he shot 69-68 on the weekend to finish at 7-under 281. Michael Heidelbaugh from Dallas and Chris Berzina from Fort Worth tied for fifth place at 6-under 282. The Top 15 finishers earned exemptions into 113th Texas Amateur next June at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler.
Now in its 94th year, the current version of Midland Country Club was designed by Ralph Plummer in the mid-1950s and completely redone by Weibring-Wolfard Golf Design in 2017. The nearly $9 million project included brand new greens, tees, bunkers and lakes. The renovation renewed Plummer’s original tactical nature of the course.
The 112th Texas Amateur was the fourth time Midland Country Club has played host to the state’s oldest amateur championship. It was here in 1965, won by Houston Cougar Randy Petri. In 1971, Bruce Lietzke, another UH alum, added his name to the H.L. Edwards Trophy in Midland. Ed Brooks did the same in 1997. The proud club also welcomed the 1963 and 2001 editions of the Women’s Texas Amateurs, won by Sandra Palmer and Denis Flores, respectively.
The competitors in Sunday’s final round played Midland Country Club from 7,339 yards and recorded a stroke average of 72.40. For the 72-hole championship, the best amateurs in Texas comprised for a stroke average of 74.25. Twenty-two players finished under par for the week.
The TGA owes an immense gratitude to Midland Country Club, including its members and staff, for their dedication and efforts in making the 112th Texas Amateur such a memorable experience. The buy-in and enthusiasm from the club was felt by the competitors, their friends and family who attended, and especially the TGA staff.
Extra special thanks are due to General Manager Evan Johansen, Head Professional Evan Dunkerson, Superintendent Fore Brown and his grounds crew, Executive Chef Ben Lesnick and Communications Director Noelle Oster. Each played critical roles and contributed to the week’s success.
We’re also grateful for our TGA Volunteers, who donate their time and expertise to ensure another first-class championship experience. For more on the 112th Texas Amateur, click here.
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.
Clay Hodge Leads 112th Texas Amateur
MIDLAND – Clay Hodge from Tyler scorched Midland Country Club on Thursday with a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 to grab the lead after the first round of the 112th Texas Amateur. Hodge leads Aaron Hickman, another Tyler resident, by two shots headed into Friday’s second round.
“I just hit the ball really well,” said Hodge, who won the 2013 Texas Mid-Amateur at Cordillera Ranch. “Honestly, I had not been coming into this championship, but I did today.”
That might be an understatement. Hodge hit all 18 greens at Midland Country Club in regulation. He made an eagle from the fairway on the par-4 18th – his ninth hole of the day – after he dunked a wedge from 145 yards.
“I was a little in between clubs,” he said. “I took the shorter one and hit it hard. It was right online, and I was yelling at it to get to the hole. It barely made it to the hole and fell in.”
The 36-year-old Hodge tied for third place in the 2015 Texas Mid-Amateur at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas. Hodge also was part of the 2009-10 Texas A&M national championship team.
Hickman, a 43-year-old TGA Director who was the 2011 and ’16 North Texas Player of the Year, got off to a hot start in the relatively cool West Texas morning air. He one-putted his first six holes and birdied three of them to make the turn at 4-under par. Hickman got it to 7-under after consecutive birdies on his 13th and 14th holes, but he gave one back with a three-putt bogey on his 17th hole.
“I got all the par 5s,” Hickman said. “I birdied all the par 5s. That’s a good way to get it going. I kept the ball in front of me and played pretty well.”
Four players share third place at 4-under 68. That group includes JT Pittman, the 2020 North Texas Player of the Year and a sophomore at Midland College, Wyatt Koricanek from New Braunfels, Leander’s Ryan O’Rear, winner of the 2020 Texas Mid-Amateur at Oak Hills Country Club, and San Antonio’s Andres Acevedo.
Defending champion Trey Bosco, a Baylor sophomore from Austin, is tied for seventh place at 3-under 69.
Thirty players finished in red numbers on the stern 7,373-yard, par-72 setup. The stroke average in Round 1 was 75.27. The par 3s were among the toughest holes on the day, especially the 209-yard third. It proved the most difficult hole of the day with a stroke average of 3.41. Twelve players made double bogey on the third hole. Much of the field got a shot back on the 551-yard, par-5 12th. There were 50 birdies on the hole, which yielded a 4.87 stroke average.
Founded in 1927 as a nine-hole course near downtown, Midland Country Club moved to its current location in the mid-1950s when Ralph Plummer designed the 18-hole course. The course has changed throughout the years, including in 2017 when the Weibring-Wolfard Golf Design completed a comprehensive renovation in time for the club’s 90th anniversary. The nearly $9 million project saw the installation of new greens, tees, bunkers and lakes, all of which fortified the strategic nature of Plummer’s original design.
While there’s not much elevation change through the course, it can stretch to nearly 7,500 from the back tees. The fairways are deceptively narrow, with rugged native areas and wispy grasses just off the edges. It’s a fair and challenging championship test, one that rewards quality shots and punishes anything less than that.
This is the fourth time Midland Country Club has played host to the state’s oldest amateur championship. The Texas Amateur came out west to Midland in 1965 (won by Randy Petri), 1971 (Bruce Lietzke) and 1997 (Ed Brooks). The 1963 and 2001 editions of the Women’s Texas Amateurs also were played at Midland Country Club (won by Sandra Palmer and Denis Flores, respectively).
In recent years, the 2020 TGA Women’s Four-Ball (won by Faith Delagarza and Amari Smith) and 2019 West Texas Amateur (won by Jackson Markham) were contested at Midland Country Club.
Awards & Dignitaries
During Wednesday night’s player reception at Midland Country Club’s par-3 course – called “The Judy” after Midland golf royalty Judy Rankin – the TGA welcomed some local celebrities and handed out several awards.
Rankin, the 26-time winner and two-time LPGA Player of the Year, spoke to the 112th Texas Amateur participants about what to expect from the golf course and told a few stories about how much Midland Country Club meant to her and the success she achieved. Midland Mayor Patrick Payton also was in attendance.
San Antonio’s Colby Harwell picked up his second Texas Player of the Year award for performances during the 2020 season. Harwell, who also won the award in 2017, was runner-up at the Texas Mid-Amateur and Mid-Amateur Match Play events last year. He also finished T16 in the 111th Texas Amateur at Boot Ranch Golf Club.
Others who received awards included 2020 North Texas Player of the Year JT Pittman from Monahans and 2020 South Texas Player of the Year Kevin Liberto from Cypress.
A host of awards also were distributed to some of the TGA’s most important contributors. Past President Jim Brown from Dallas was honored with the Bob Wells Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor given in Texas amateur golf for volunteerism. Robert Woodward from Dallas received the 2020 North Texas Volunteer of the Year award, and Steve Suhey from Horseshoe Bay won the 2020 South Texas Volunteer of the Year award.
Because of the pandemic, the TGA was unable to hand out the 2019 Volunteer of the Year awards. On Wednesday night, Roger Davis from Spring picked up the 2019 South Texas Volunteer of the Year, and Chuck Flowers from Wylie was handed the 2019 North Texas Volunteer of the Year award.
Last, but by no means least, Carey Schulten of Dallas was recognized for his years of tireless service to the TGA. Schulten was the association’s President from 2018-19 and has been a constant fixture at championships as one of the TGA’s most trusted Rules Officials.
Nearly 1,000 male golfers in Texas with Handicap Indexes of 6.4 or better registered to qualify for the 112th Texas Amateur at Midland Country Club. In all, the TGA received 986 entries for this year’s championship. It’s the second-highest entry total in the tournament’s history.
That record was set last at Boot Ranch Golf Club in the Hill Country. A total of 1,010 amateurs registered for the 111th Texas Amateur.
Round 2 of this year’s championship begins Friday at 7:30 a.m. For more information on the 112th Texas Amateur, including complete scoring, click here.