Around the Green

The latest golf-related news, notes, and feature stories from the TGA.

Ryan O’Rear Wins 37th Texas Mid-Amateur

 SAN ANTONIO – Ryan O’Rear won the 37th Texas Mid-Amateur late Sunday afternoon after defeating two-time champion Colby Harwell on the seventh sudden-death playoff hole at Oak Hills Country Club. The 29-year-old from Leander captures the victory with a 72-hole total of 3-under 210.

Before one of the most historic sudden-death playoffs in TGA history, O’Rear’s final round was nothing short of impressive. The former Baylor University standout started with four-straight bogeys and was seven shots behind the leaders. However, he birdied the par-5 fifth and something clicked. The rest of his round was the best golf of the week.

O’Rear birdied the par-4 eighth and par-3 ninth to turn at 1-over 36. He eagled the par-5 10th and carried his momentum throughout his closing loop. After carding four more birdies on his back nine to card a bogey-free 5-under 30, O’Rear was in the clubhouse with a one-stroke lead.

“It was a roller coaster,” O’Rear said. “Obviously, it wasn’t a very good start. But my caddy did a great job today of just keeping me positive. On the back nine, I don’t really know what happened. I started hitting it close and making a lot of birdies and somehow got in a playoff.”

Harwell, who played one group behind O’Rear, carded five birdies and posted the second lowest round of the day with 4-under-par 67. The two-time Texas Mid-Amateur champion and Oak Hills member also posted 3-under 210 through 54 holes.

After the last few groups finished, O’Rear and Harwell headed to the 18th tee for a sudden-death playoff. Both players made par and the battle was off and running. O’Rear and Harwell traded punch for punch for the next hour and 15 minutes. On the seventh playoff hole, O’Rear left himself a seven-foot birdie putt up the hill. He buried it to clinch the victory.

“That was a great playoff,” O’Rear. “I’ve known Colby for a long time and played a lot of golf with him. He had a great week and it was a great battle.”

Harwell adds this runner-up finish to his wins in 2017 and 2018. He’s also a two-time champion of the Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play (2017, 2019). The highly touted amateur was very complimentary of O’Rear’s game.

“That playoff is exactly why we still come out here and play,” Harwell said. “Ryan is a really good player. It was very impressive, but honestly I expected it.”

Finishing solo third and earning low-mid master honors was Padden Nelson of Houston. The 40-year-old carded a closing 4-over 75 to post 2-under-par 211 overall. Blake Parks of Odessa, Danny Simmerman of Shavano Park, Justin Kaplan of Houston and Johnathan Schnitzer of Houston shared fourth place at 1-under 212.

The TGA extends sincere appreciation to Oak Hills, its attentive staff and engaged membership, as well as our volunteers for all their help and support ahead of and during the 37th Texas Mid-Amateur.

Extra special thanks to Director of Golf and Club Operations Cary Collins, Head Golf Professional Ryan Polzin, Director of Agronomy Jeff Visser and his amazing grounds crew, Food and Beverage Director Santiago Vasquez and Executive Chef Dennie Upton. The 37th Texas Mid-Amateur would not have been possible without their efforts.

For more information on the 37th Texas Mid-Amateur, click here.

Around the Green

The latest golf-related news, notes, and feature stories from the TGA.

Padden Nelson Holds Lead at 37th Texas Mid-Amateur

SAN ANTONIO – Padden Nelson started the second round of the 37th Texas Mid-Amateur one-shot off the lead. Following a 2-under-par 69 and one of the few rounds in red figures on Saturday, the 40-year-old mid-amateur from Houston holds a three-shot advantage headed into the Sunday’s final round at Oak Hills Country Club.

Padden, who teed off in the morning wave, flared his opening tee shot into the right trees on the par-5 10th. He punched it back into the fairway and left himself 122 yards for his approach. Padden smoothed his 52-degree wedge and, not even realizing it, holed-out for eagle to begin his second round.

“I didn’t even really see it go in,” Padden said. “The guys in front of us did, but pretty good for the putting stats.”

He carried the momentum from his great start throughout his round. On a day playing tougher for the field compared to Round 1, Padden carded three birdies and three bogeys to card one of 10 rounds under par.

“It was kind of the same thing as yesterday,” Padden said. “Hit one shot at a time. I made a couple pretty good length putts for par and just kind of hung in there.”

Padden seeks his first TGA major championship victory, but as for preparation for the final round he plans to keep it lose.

“I plan to drink a couple beers, watch some college football, have a good lunch and good dinner and that’d be about it,” Padden said.

Sitting in solo second and three shots behind Nelson is Houston’s Johnathan Schnitzer. The former Texas Longhorn carded eight birdies en route to a 7-under-par 64 and jumped 53 spots up the leaderboard. It was the low round of the day by four strokes and he’ll look carry the momentum into Sunday’s final round.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a final group, so it’s good to get the feeling back,” Schnitzer said. “I’m just going to go out there and try and have fun and be patient. There’s a lot of opportunities out  here and you have to know they are going to come if you be patient.”

The defending champion Chris Wheeler of Addison is tied third with Oak Hills member Brett Nichols at 2-under-par 140. Wheeler closed out his second round with a bogey-free 2-under 33 on his final nine highlighted by a 20-foot birdie on the par-3 ninth. He will look to become the third player in history to win back-to-back Texas Mid-Amateur titles.

“Obviously, those guys ahead of me are playing great golf and I’m happy to be in the last group,” Wheeler said. “It is always the goal to win when you tee it up, but yeah I don’t want to let go of that trophy.”

Nichols played his closing 15 holes in 3-under par and attributed his great play over the past two days to local knowledge.

“It is pleasant to see how the golf course is withstanding the best mid-am players in the state of Texas,” Nichols said. “We have a lot of fun out here and there’s a lot of support for our members to play well in this.”

Sean Heidrick of Plano and Blake Parks of Odessa are tied fifth at 1-under-par 141, while three players sit in seventh at even par including Oak Hills member Danny Simmerman, 2015 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play champion Justin Kaplan of Houston and 2020 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play champion Aaron Hickman of Tyler.

Through two rounds, there are only six players under par for the championship. The field played Oak Hills from 6,687 yards in Round 2 and 57 players made the 36-hole cut at 8-over 150 or better.

The third round of the 37th Texas Mid-Amateur begins Sunday at 8 a.m. at Oak Hills. For more information on this championship, click here.

Around the Green

The latest golf-related news, notes, and feature stories from the TGA.

Austen Fulmer Leads 37th Texas Mid-Amateur

SAN ANTONIO – Austen Fulmer of Austin holds the first-round lead of the 37th Texas Mid-Amateur after turning in a brilliant 5-under-par 66 at the historic Oak Hills Country Club.

Fulmer, who qualified for the championship with a 73 at the Lighthouse Country Club, made four birdies on his opening nine to card a bogey-free 4-under-par 32. He didn’t slow down on his closing loop. Fulmer made a clutch up and down for par on the par-4 first hole to continue the momentum. His only bogey of the day came on the par-4 eighth, but it didn’t rattle the 38-year-old mid-am.

Fulmer hit his tee shot on the par-3 ninth to 15 feet and drained the putt for birdie to post 5-under.

“It’s just one shot at a time,” said Fulmer, who is playing in his first Texas Mid-Amateur. “I think you play golf 18 individual times with the way the game is scored. So, honestly I play one at a time.”

Fulmer didn’t play college golf but has been playing in competitive amateur events for several years. He’ll carry a one-shot lead into Saturday’s second round over Padden Nelson.

“Oh, now I’m more nervous about tomorrow,” said Fulmer with a laugh. “If I had been three or four over I would have been comfortable. But now that I’m 5-under heading into tomorrow, yeah I’ll be more nervous.”

Foremost among those chasing Fulmer is Nelson. The Houston resident carded six birdies as well in his opening round to go along with two bogeys. Nelson, a former collegiate golfer at Newman University, says he’ll try to remain patient throughout the next two days of the championship.

“You don’t want to get ahead of yourself,” Nelson said. “There’s way too many golfers to worry about where your standing.”

Among the top of the leaderboard is Will Dennis of Fort Worth and Sean Heidrick of Plano. They will begin Saturday two shots back of Fulmer after rounds of 3-under-par 68.

Colby Harwell, a two-time Texas Mid-Amateur champion (2017-18) and Oak Hills Country Club member, is tied fifth with Zach Winkler of Prosper. Harwell and Winkler carded rounds of 2-under-par 69.

A total of eight players are within four shots of Fulmer with 36 holes to play.

This is the first Texas Mid-Amateur contested at Oak Hills Country Club, which has a long history of playing host to TGA major championships. Most recently, in 2016 the club hosted the 107th Texas Amateur, won by Frederick Wedel. Oak Hills was also the site of the 2015 Texas Senior Amateur and 2013 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play, both won by Mike Booker.

Founded in 1922, Oak Hills was designed by A.W. Tillinghast. The renowned golf course architect’s strategic design philosophy has stood the test of time and is evident throughout Oak Hills. Tree-lined fairways, bunker-protected greens and contoured putting surfaces are elegantly combined to demand the most from a golfer’s shot-making and course management skills.

Over the years numerous upgrades have been made at Oak Hills, and in 2017, Tripp Davis completed an extensive $6.5 million restoration that has improved playing conditions, fortified the course’s original design elements and revitalized its natural beauty. The first round of the Texas Mid-Amateur was played from 6,729 yards.

Defending champion Chris Wheeler of Addison posted an even par 71. He’s tied for ninth place with seven others, including this year’s Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play champion Aaron Hickman of Tyler.

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