Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Houston Charity Tourney Cuts Ties with Clemens

With his reputation in flames due to steroids accusations, an investigation by Major League Baseball, and a possible perjury investigation - not to mention an unrelated scandal involving country music singer Mindy McCready - baseball superstar Roger Clemens was recently asked not to take part in a Houston charity golf tournament with which he's been association for several year. Yahoo Sports reports:

Roger Clemens has been asked to end his involvement with a charity golf tournament he has hosted for four years as the fallout from the Mitchell Report continues to haunt the seven-time Cy Young award winner, the Daily News reported in Wednesday’s edition.

Although Clemens helped raise millions of dollars for charities associated with the event, the Giff Nielsen Day of Golf for Kids was held Nov. 11 at Houston’s Shadow Hawk Golf Club without him.

"Roger Clemens is no longer affiliated with the tournament," said Nielsen, a Houston broadcaster. "We decided we would go our separate ways until his off-field stuff is settled.

"I approached him, and as we talked, we reached a mutual agreement that we would put our relationship on hold. He was good about it. He said 'I agree with the decision.' "

Clemens is a golf nut and has long been involved in charity golf outings. (And Nielsen, of course, isn't just a "Houston broadcaster," but the former quarterback of the Houston Oilers, and a College Football Hall of Fame member.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Former PGA Tour Pro Wins Texas Senior Open

Danny Edwards, a longtime member of the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, is the 2008 victor of the Texas Senior Open, which concluded Saturday in Houston. Here is the tournament recap from the Southern Texas PGA:

Danny Edwards of Scottsdale, Ariz., posted a final round score of even-par 72 for a 54-hole total of 5-under-par 211 on the Forest Course at The Clubs of Kingwood in Houston to become the first two-time winner in the 11-year history of the Maker's Mark Texas Senior Open.

Edwards finished one stroke better than Peter O'Hagan of Lutz, Fla., to win the first-place prize of $10,000 in this year’s state championship. Edwards also won the 2006 Maker’s Mark Texas Senior Open.

"I didn’t play all that well today," said Edwards after the final round, "but I just kept on hanging in there."

Edwards was two strokes up on O'Hagan and first-round leader Frank Conner of San Antonio heading into the final round. He opened his round with a birdie but followed it with a bogey on the second hole. Another bogey on the seventh hole dropped him to 4-under-par for the tournament, and pulled Conner within a stroke of the lead and O’Hagan, who had bogeyed the second hole, to within two strokes.

While Edwards, who has over 30 years experience on the PGA Tour and PGA Champions Tour, began a string of nine consecutive pars on the eighth hole, Conner fell off the pace with a double-bogey on the same hole and O'Hagan began a charge that included three birdies, a par and a bogey over the next five holes.

O'Hagan and Edwards entered the final six holes tied for the lead and traded pars from 13th through 16 holes before Edwards struck, taking a birdie to O’Hagan’s par on the par 5 17th hole. Both took par on the final hole and Edwards had a one-stroke victory.

"Obviously, the birdie on 17 was big and so was the par on 18," said Edwards, "but I really think No. 9 was key. I hit my second shot right of the green there. My ball was in a divot and had to use a utility club to run the ball up. I got it close enough to save my par and that really helped."

"It feels very good to win and to become the first two-time champion of this tournament," said Edwards. "It's really a very good tournament, with a good field at a great site."

O'Hagan finished at 4-under-par 212 and earned the runner-up check of $7,000, while Conner took home $5,250 for his third-place finish of 1-under-par 215.

Five golfers, including 2005 Maker's Mark Texas Senior Open champion Chuck Moran of Houston and 2008 tournament low amateur David Leiss of Houston, finished in a fourth-place tie at 5-over-par 221.

After a bit of a rough start that included bogeys on three of the first five holes, Leiss settled down and played the last 12 holes at just one over par.

"I think the birdie on 17 is what did it for me," said Leiss, who finished one stroke better than Jeff New of The Woodlands, Texas, and Vaughn Moise of Kingwood, Texas, for low amateur honors.

Leiss, who played college golf at TCU, received a merchandise certificate of $750 for his effort (professionals competed for cash prizes and amateurs for merchandise certificates). The tournament's total purse was $60,000.

Top Finishers
Danny Edwards, Scottsdale, Ariz., 69-70-72--211
Peter O'Hagan, Lutz, Fla., 71-70-71--212
Frank Conner, San Antonio, 67-74-74--215
Joe Stansberry, Lakeville, Minn., 78-72-71--221
Chuck Moran, Houston, 74-75-72--221
Lindy Miller, Ft. Worth, 75-71-75--221
Gordon Johnson, Houston, 75-71-75--221
David Leiss (a), Houston, 70-75-76--221
Full Results

Monday, November 17, 2008

Repeat Winners at Legends Junior Tour Championship

Let's hear it for the kids. The Texas Legends Junior Tour played its tour championship over the weekend at Pine Dunes Resort & Golf Club in Frankston. And two of the three champions who emerged were repeat winners. Here is the report from the LJGT:

FRANKSTON - As the saying goes, "some things never change." At the Legends Junior Tour Championship, it was more of the same as Hunter Brown and Kelsey Kirkpatrick successfully defended the titles they won last year at Boot Ranch. For Kirkpatrick, it was her sixth victory in as many tries this year and, for Brown, it was a return to the dominance he showed in 2007.

The 2008 season has been somewhat of a struggle for Hunter Brown. After winning the 2007 Player of the Year award, expectations were high for the Richardson native. A missed cut at the EDS Byron Nelson Junior Championship and a T22 at the Texas State Junior Championship left him looking for answers. But his play had improved of late with a T6 at the Championship and a T4 at last week’s Texas Cup Invitational. The comeback now seems complete after an impressive seven shot victory over an elite field.

Brown entered the final round with a two shot lead over Richardson’s Brad Lyle. Lyle struggled early while Brown opened with five consecutive pars. He made a birdie on No. 6 (par 3, 188 yards) and followed that up with eight more pars. By the time he made his second birdie on No. 15 (par 4, 340 yards), the contest was over. A bogey on No. 18 (par 5, 500 yards) gave him a 54-hole total of 218.

The win earns Brown two AJGA tournament exemptions as well invitations into all of next year’s Legends Junior Tour Invitationals.

Lyle’s final round 76 was good enough to keep him in second place at 225. Austin’s Brenden Redfern finished one stroke back, while Sean Luke of DeSoto and Alex Ellis tied for fifth at 230.

Branson Davis of McKinney ran away with the Boys 14 & Under title. His bogey free round of 69 left him nine shots clear of the field. The win was Davis’ third of the year and his second consecutive Major victory (he won the Championship in September). Those two late season wins helped him move ahead of Scott Scheffler on the Player of the Year points list.

Kelsey Kirkpatrick shot rounds of 81-77-79 to finish at 237. Kirkpatrick, who recently committed to Arkansas State, completely dominated the Girls 15-18 division this year. The year began with a win at the Stableford Championship and she followed that with wins at the Spring Preview, Mark Brooks Shootout, Bluebonnet Championship and Championship.

The Tour Championship was the final individual event, as well as the last points event, of the 2008 season. Congrulations to Jade Scott (Boys 15-18), Scott Scheffler (Boys 14 & Under), Kelsey Kirkpatrick (Girls 15-18) and Grace Choi (Girls 14 & Under) on winning Player of the Year awards in their respective divisions.

Boys 15-18 Division
Hunter Brown, Richardson, 77-70-71-218
Brad Lyle, Richardson, 76-73-76-225
Brenden Redfern, Austin, 79-74-76-229

Boys 14-Under Division
Branson Davis, McKinney, 77-75-69-221
William Zalatoris, Plano, 76-78-76-230
Scott Scheffler, Dallas, 79-82-75-236

Girls 15-18 Division
Kelsey Kirkpatrick, Golden, 81-77-79-237
Rachel Mulkey, Flower Mound, 87-82-75-244
Chaney Uhles, Fort Worth, 79-84-83-246

The full results for each division are available here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

PGA Tour Second-Stage Qualifier at Deerwood

A second-stage qualifier in the PGA Tour Q-School process was completed Saturday at Deerwood Golf Club in Kingwood. The Top 21 plus ties advance to the Q-School finals. Here are those golfers:

Chris Stroud, Houston, TX, 274
Drew Laning, Little Rock, AR, 278
Willie Wood, Edmond, OK, 279
Michael Putnam, Lakewood, WA, 279
Richard Johnson, Fort Smith, AR, 281
Mathias Gronberg, Spring Lake, NJ, 281
Brian Duncan, Mt. Pleasant, SC, 282
Brian Stuard, Jackson, MI, 282
Mark Brooks, Ft. Worth, TX, 282
Brad Elder, Reston, VA, 282
Dave Schultz, Fargo, ND, 282
Nick Beach, Fayetteville, AR, 283
B.J. Staten, Dallas, TX, 283
David Hearn, Canada, 283
Glen Day, Little Rock, AR, 283
Keith Huber, Fresno, CA, 283
Neal Lancaster, Smithfield, NC, 283
Vance Veazey, Memphis, TN, 284
Dustin Risdon, Canada, 284
Dong Yi, Phoenix, AZ, 284
Scott Gardiner, Farmington, AR, 284

Some of the notables who failed to make it out of this qualifier included Craig Bowden, Joel Kribel, J.L. Lewis and Omar Uresti. The full results are available here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NTPGA Match Play Championship Goes to Johns

Tournament report from the Northern Texas PGA:

IRVING – The final match of the Cleveland Golf / Club Car NTPGA Match Play Championship featured the No. 23 seed Jamie Elliott, the director of instruction at Bridlewood Golf Club in Flower Mound, playing the No. 8 seed Travis Johns, assistant golf professional at Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas.

The final match of the championship through the first seven holes was all square. Each player was only able to gain a 1-up advantage before letting it slip away. The turning point in the match came on the par four eighth hole where Johns pitched in for a birdie from the left greenside rough to win the hole. Johns went on to win the next two holes stretching his lead to 3-up through ten holes.

Elliott made his move by making birdie on the par four eleventh hole to cut Johns' lead to only 2-up. Hole 12 was halved with each player making par on the difficult uphill par four. The par three thirteen hole became pivotal as Elliott was not able to get up and down after missing the green hole high to the left. Johns went on to make par on the thirteenth pushing his lead back to 3-up and never looked back.

Johns went into hole 16 only needing a halve to win the match. Elliott had an opportunity there to keep the match going but left his birdie putt hanging on the edge of the hole. Johns' par was good enough for the halve and the 3 & 2 win over Elliott.

This is Johns' second Northern Texas PGA major championship title, with his other victory coming in the 2005 NTPGA Assistants Championship.

The Cleveland Golf / Club Car NTPGA Match Play Championship was contested on November 10-12 at Four Seasons Resort and Club (TPC) in Irving, a 7,166 yard, par 70 layout. The top 32 players on the final 2008 Cleveland Golf / Club Car NTPGA Player of the Year Points Challenge were invited to compete in the season-ending major championship. Johns took home $4,000 of the $34,400 purse for his victory.

View the championship bracket for results of all matches played.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Texas Swing" On PGA Tour's 2009 Schedule

The Texas Open, Byron Nelson Championship and Colonial will make up a three-week "Texas Swing" in 2009, it was finally confirmed when the 2009 PGA Tour schedule was announced.

The Valero Texas Open moves from the Fall Series portion of the schedule to a Spring date in mid-May, and is followed on the 2009 schedule by the Nelson and Colonial. The Shell Houston Open remains separate from the other three, taking place in April the week before The Masters.

Here are the four Texas events on the schedule:

  • April 2-5: Shell Houston Open, Redstone Golf Club (Tournament Course), Houston
  • May 14-17: Valero Texas Open, La Cantera Golf Club (Resort Course), San Antonio
  • May 21-24: HP Byron Nelson Classic, TPC Four Seasons Resort, Irving
  • May 28-31: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Much of The Ambush at Lajitas Destroyed in Flood

ambush lajitas flood

Out in far West Texas, hard against the Mexican border, sits the Lajitas Resort, a starcrossed project that opened to much fanfare, struggled to stay solvent, and was recently sold to new owners with a plan to revitalize the property.

The Ambush is the resort's golf course, an 18-hole carpet of green in the Chihuahuan desert, designed by Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell and praised by just about every golf who had a chance to play it.

The Ambush is now in ruins, much of the course destroyed by massive flooding along the Rio Grande caused when Mexico was forced to open floodgates and multiple dams along the river to remove the possibility of dam breaks in the aftermath of a tropical storm.

The good news is that the resort believes it can recover nine holes and have them playable again in the near future; the second nine will take a lot more time and effort.

In an article for, author Steve Habel describes the damage:

By the middle of September, only three of our course's holes were above water. "The back nine was entirely flooded for four weeks," said Terri Thate, a spokesperson for Lajitas and the resort's reservation manager. "The devastation was amazing. I have lived here for years, and I had never seen anything like that before."

The back nine of The Ambush course - which included the famed "international" hole that allowed players to tee up a shot in the United States and hit to a green in Mexico, and four holes on an island in the river, are damaged beyond repair.

Portions of The Ambush's front nine, most of which was also underwater, died because the flooding destroyed the course's irrigation system. Once the waters subsided, the grass burned up for lack of water (as ironic as it seems) in the arid desert landscape.

"We may have six or seven holes on the front nine that can be saved and reworked, and that is our current goal," said Edwin Lesley, Lajitas' president and chief executive officer. "We hope to have those nine holes back and playable by March 2009, and then we will turn our attention to the rest of the course."

Read the full article.

Monday, November 03, 2008

New Management for Laredo Course; Upgrades Planned

Southern Golf Properties is a management company based in Bandera. Bryan Gathright, a perennial member of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers list, is one of the principals; Austin course designer Roy Bechtol is also associated with the company.

Southern manages four courses: The Club at ConCan near, well, Concan; The Flying L Guest Ranch in Bandera; Alsatian Golf Club in Castroville; and Utopia Golf Course in Utopia.

Make that five. The company recently won the right to operate Casa Blanca Golf Course in Laredo, beating out notable competition including Kemper Golf Management and Billy Casper Golf Management to be hired by Webb County.

"Southern Golf Properties feels privileged and honored to have been awarded the contract for the management of Casa Blanca Golf Course," said John Junker, Southern Golf's chief executive officer. "We look forward to working with Webb County and serving the community and its golfing needs. Our entire team welcomes this challenge and this wonderful opportunity."

A news release provides further details:

Casa Blanca Golf Course, which plays to 6,539 yards from its back set of three tees and to a par of 72, was designed by Leon Howard and opened for operation in 1967. There have been some changes to the track in the 40-plus years since a tee was first put in the ground, but in recent years Casa Blanca has fallen into disrepair. As a result, rounds – and the accompanying revenue those rounds created for the county and the community – have decreased substantially.

"We are all excited about working with Southern Golf Properties and the changes and the improvements they have proposed for Casa Blanca Golf Course," said Rosaura “Wawi” Tijerina, Webb County Commissioner for Precinct 2. "The management, operation and maintenance of Casa Blanca is a quality of life issue for the citizens of Webb County and – we believe – that having Southern Golf Properties at the course will improve that quality of life."

To aid in that direction, Webb County has pledged funds to Casa Blanca's revival and eventual renovation. Southern Golf Properties' plan of attack for the course begins this week with a thorough testing of soil and water at the track and the firm has set a Nov. 28, 2008 deadline to return to Webb County with a list of proposed capital improvements.

"Our first order of business would be improving playing conditions for local golfers," Junker said. "We anticipate doing work on the hitting surfaces of the golf course – including the fairways – and improving the putting greens," Junker said. "We have a great team with Southern Golf and a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience. We feel very confident we can get things going here."

Junker added that community outreach will also be high on the company's priority list. "We are going to try to find out what the needs are of the community, and we address those needs," he said. "We want to get kids involved, we’ll get adults involved and we’ll try to get the ladies of the community involved. We will go to them. We'll go to the schools. We take that very seriously."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

More PGA Tour First-Stage Qualifying Results

Here are the golfers who made it through first-stage qualifying tournaments for PGA Tour Q-School at two Texas locations over the past week. Only those golfers who are advancing into the second stage are listed.

Cypresswood Golf Club, Spring
James Love, Denver, CO 276
Philippe Gasnier, Orlando, FL 276
Brice Garnett, Gallatin, MO 276
Diego Vanegas, Colombia 277
Jerod Turner, Hurst, TX 277
Lee Wilson, Canada 278
Rodney Butcher, New Port Richey, FL 279
Sang-Moon Bae, South Korea 279
Richard Lee, Chandler, AZ 279
Ryan Carter, Hacienda Heights, CA 279
Jon Rusk, Washington Crossing, PA 279
Tyrone Mordt, Arlington, TX 279
Mark Leon, Canada 280
Mark Williams, Polono Manor, PA 281
Peter Kaensche, Norway 281
Keven Fortin-Simard, Canada 282
Mike Perez, Scottsdale, AZ 282
George Bradford, Pikesville, MD 283
Matt Richardson, United Kingdom 283
Bryant MacKellar, Fairhope, AL 284
Matt Loving, San Antonio, TX 285
Juan Gil, Argentina 285
Jeff Rangel, Martinez, CA 285
Tommy Medina, Gilbert, AZ 285
Full Results

Stonebridge Ranch Country Club, McKinney
Dave Schultz, Fargo, ND 266
Seung Yul Noh, Lewisville, TX 273
Ben McCaslin, Austin, TX 273
David Jenkins, Overland Park, KS 274
Ricky Martinez, Mesa, AZ 276
Stuart Deane, Arlington, TX 277
Martin Flores, Mansfield, TX 277
Adam Meyer, Fort Worth, TX 278
Mike Wendling, Oklahoma City, OK 278
Martin Piller, Richardson, TX 278
Dustin Risdon, Canada 278
TCharlie Beljan, Mesa, AZ 279
Anders Hultman, Irving, TX 279
Derek Watson, Andrews, TX 279
Richard Scott, Canada 279
B.J. Staten, Dallas, TX 279
Chris Wall, Albuquerque, NM 279
Andrew Bonhomme, Australia 279
Alan McLean, Canada 280
Brian Stuard, Jackson, MI 280
Brett Stegmaier, Vero Beach, FL 280
David Schultz, Dallas, TX 280
Brock Mulder, Dallas, TX 281
Kelly Grunewald, Grand Prairie, TX 281
Ryan Quinn, Lincoln, NE 281
Scott Fawcett, Dallas, TX 281
Trent Rommann, El Paso, TX 281
Tom Johnson, Weaverville, CA 281
Full Results