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July 23 - Gage Ihrig Takes the Kansas Amateur Title by “Storm”

Kansas City Country Club and the surrounding neighborhoods looked like a mid-summer Kansas tornado had touched down briefly when the players arrived on site early Sunday morning for the final match of the 107th Kansas Amateur.    But Gage Ihrig and Sam Stevens had a 36 hole contest to play and they were not going to let a few thousand tree limbs on the ground get in their way.   When the 34th hole of the match was finished Gage Ihrig had claimed his second KGA title of the 2017 season and Sam Stevens received his third Kansas Amateur Match Play runner-up trophy.

The 4&2 final result seemed a wider margin of victory than had been the case throughout most of the contest.   Ihrig birdied the second hole of the morning round, a short par three, and then never trailed.    He built a brief 3 up lead on the opening hole of the afternoon session, but Stevens birdied the next hole to reduce the margin to just 2 holes.   The next seven holes were halved with either pars or bogeys setting up Ihrig’s final five hole charge to the finish.   Birdies at #12 and #13 increased the lead to 3 up and by the time the two started the 16th hole, Ihrig was dormie.    Stevens pressed his recovery shot from the right side walnut grove and careened his ball into the left fairway bunker.   With Ihrig safely on the putting surface in two strokes, the match was nearly over.   Caps came off after Ihrig played his third stroke to a makeable position close to the hole.

While the two finalists displayed well placed and long shots from the tee and fairly accurate approaches, it was the putting game that seemed to have abandoned both young collegians.   Stevens, a senior to be at Oklahoma State, in particular struggled with his putting throughout the match, even missing putts that would have been made in earlier matches.   Ihrig managed to make a few more putts and that was the difference.

Loren Breedlove, the Kansas City Country Club superintendent for the last 37 years, had a crew of early-risers who worked to prepare the putting greens and almost all of the its 30-some bunkers so that the championship match could begin Sunday morning after a short delay.   The overnight storm hit the Mission Hills area hard.   Brush Creek did get out of its banks for a time, leaving debris on the golf holes near the club entrance.   One old oak tree that had already been scheduled for removal the week after the Kansas Amateur, was split in two by the strong winds.   It covered most of the first fairway so that the players had a strange sight from the first tee.   The fallen tree was merely an obstacle to hit over.

KGA officials asked Breedlove to give priority to the mowing of the putting greens and everything else could be handled with special rules for the day.   The players and officials walked the morning 18 holes and were then issued golf carts for the afternoon round.   That was fortunate as the skies cleared and the temperatures and humidity made it very uncomfortable for the players and spectators alike.

At no time did the debris play a factor in the outcome of any hole.

For the morning session, Ihrig, a Wichita State golfer and senior to be, played 18 holes 1-under par 69 while Stevens struggled to shoot 1-over par 71.   That was the difference allowing for the 2 up Ihrig advantage at the lunch break.

For the 16 holes played in the final session, Ihrig was 2-under par.   Stevens was 2-over par.  Over the final 10 holes of the match, Stevens had no fewer than six opportunities to make a birdie and win a hole.  His frustration was obvious.   So for a long stretch of seven holes from #5 through #11, Ihrig was matching Stevens hole for hole.  Finally at #12 Ihrig hit his tee shot to within 10 feet of the hole on the 220-yard scenic downhiller and then sank a putt to go 2 up.

At the par four 13th hole the tees had been moved up to the forward tee in order to tempt the players into going for the green that is fronted by a wide water hazard.   Ihrig had the honor and smoothly struck a lofted wood to the front of the putting green.   Thinking he had a better chance to make a birdie from the middle of the fairway, Stevens played an iron to a spot short of the water hazard.   His wedge landed close to the hole put had enough spin that the ball rolled to a position several feet below the hole placed a the back of the green.   Ihrig’s first putt from 50 feet stopped close to the hole for a conceded birdie.   Stevens failed to make his birdie and fell to 3 down again.

Both players missed the green at the par three 14th hole and neither could save par.   And when #15 was halved with pars, it was getting close to the end.   The 16th green was the scene of contrasts.   A joyful Ihrig with his caddy and family compared to Stevens disappointment of being the Kansas Amateur runner-up for the third time in the last five year.   The beautiful A.W. Tillinghast golf course temporarily disheveled by Mother Nature.    But soon all will return to normal.  The golf course will be restored to its usual beauty and difficult test of golf while two young athletes will tee it up for their next event.  The joy and disappointment will linger for a time, but it will be a day that will not be forgotten by those who played or witnessed the final match of the 107th Kansas Amateur.

Congratulations to Gage Ihrig, the 2017 Kansas Amateur champion and to all of the 144 contestants who displayed their skills over a short week in July at Kansas City Country Club.   Also, a sincere thank you to the members and staff of our welcoming host club.   You truly made it special for all involved.

 

July 22 - 107th Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship Finals Set for Tomorrow

Only the young and strong can survive these kinds of conditions.  36 holes a day in oppressive July Kansas heat is not for the faint of heart either.

Chase Hanna will wake up tomorrow and have a new career to start as a professional golfer.   His highly successful amateur career came to an abrupt end in the Kansas Amateur semifinals on Saturday afternoon.   Gage Ihrig played a match he will never forget.

Through the first nine holes Hanna built a 3 up lead.   Inexplicably, Hanna made three consecutive bogeys to start the back nine allowing Ihrig back into the match.   As the two teed off on #13 the match was all square.   Holes #13 and #14 were halved with pars.   Hanna won the 15th hole with a birdie to get back a narrow 1 up advantage.

They say things happen in “threes”.   It had already happened to Hanna with the three bogey run earlier on the back nine.   Now it was Ihrig’s turn.   However, his run of “three” was all birdies.   Hanna could only watch as his lead slipped away and Ihrig put down the exclamation point on the 18th hole for an incredible 2 up win and a berth in the finals.   Hanna had not trailed in a match all day until the 35th hole of the day.

Hanna was gracious and thankful in defeat.   He ends not only a top flight college career but an amateur golf resume that includes a Kansas Amateur championship, a Kansas Junior championship (both won in the same summer, only the second junior to ever win both in the same year), and a Watson Challenge title along with appearances in several USGA national championships.

Gage Ihrig reported that his cell phone is exploding with congratulatory texts.   The Wichita State golfer from Goodland, Kansas is having a Player of the Year summer.   He won the Kansas Stroke Play championship called The Railer at Sand Creek Station in late June.

Sam Stevens will play in his fourth Kansas Amateur final in the last five years after posting a 1 up win over Connor Knabe.   In a back and forth match when neither golfer was ever more than 1 up,  Stevens managed to come back from the small deficit to square the match on the 13th hole with a par.

The next three holes were halved with pars setting up the critical hole of the match - #17, the reachable par five.   Stevens showed his true form with a timely birdie while Knabe stumbled with a par.   The two “sluggers” stood on the 18th tee with Knabe needing to win the hole to have a chance in extra holes.  Stevens played the final hole well enough to make a tying par and end the match victorious at 1 up.

Both of the 107th Kansas Amateur Match Play finalists have a Wichita connection.  Stevens grew up there and honed his skills at Wichita Country Club and Flint Hills National Golf Club.   Ihrig found his way to Wichita on a golf scholarship to play for Kansas legendary golfer and Coach Grier Jones at Wichita State.   These two young men know each other very well.  After their semifinal wins they seemed just as excited for the other as they did for themselves.   It promises to be a final match of great golf and sportsmanship!

 


Kansas Amateur Match Play Quarterfinals Full of Exciting Golf

With seven of the eight quarterfinalists having a seed position of #10 or better, including both the #1 and #2 seeds, this morning’s matches were close and a display of outstanding golf.  Two matches end on the 18th hole, one match needed one extra hole and the fourth match ended on #17.

Chase Hanna, the KU grad turning pro following this event, continued his march to the Sunday finals with a 3&1 win over Park Ulrich.   Making his first appearance in the Kansas Amateur quarterfinals, Ulrich was not intimidated playing the #1 seed that has a Kansas Amateur title already on his resume.  In fact, with a little better putting Ulrich would have likely forged the upset.   Ulrich hit 16 of 18 putting greens in regulation and for the two greens he missed, his ball was on the fringe.  In the first five holes Ulrich missed three putts of ten feet or less.    Hanna never trailed in the match.   He played 4-under par with 5 birdies and 1 bogey that came late in the round of the 17 hole match.   Hanna even made several magical par saves that had to have demoralized Ulrich.

In the second quarterfinal match, the hottest player left in the tournament Alex Springer of Overland Park would have to get through Gage Ihrig, the Wichita State golfer that won the Kansas stroke play championship last month at Sand Creek Station Golf Course.   Springer has been a birdie machine until today and Ihrig has a cool confidence.   Springer won two holes early to take a 2 up lead but Ihrig took back control of the match with an eagle on the par five 7thhole and a birdie on the 8th hole, also a par five.  To close out the front nine Springer took back the advantage with a par on the 9th hole.    Hole 11 and 12 were the turning point in the match.   Ihrig posted consecutive birdies to lead in the match for the first time.    The at the 16th hole a par won over a bogey for Ihrig to get to 2 up over Springer.   The two each birdied the 17th hole which was Springer’s lone birdie of the match.

The afternoon’s first semifinal match will feature #1 seed Chase Hanna of Leawood against the #5 seed Gage Ihrig of Goodland.

The KU vs. K-State quarterfinal shootout put Charlie Hillier, the #2 seed from New Zealand against #10 seed Connor Knabe from Overland Park.    Knabe birdied the first hole to take the early lead and then never trailed.   Hillier did manage to get the match back to all square on #12 when Knabe failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker.   But Knabe birdied the next hole to regain the 1 up lead.    His third birdie of the match came at #16, giving Knabe a 2 up advantage or dormie two.     Then Hillier took both the 17th and th 18th holes with a birdie, forcing one extra hole, which Knabe promptly won with a par.

Sam Stevens might have had the easiest quarterfinal match up if you go strictly on the seeding.   Stevens had earned the #6 seed, while his Topeka opponent Justice Valdiviawas #39.   Surprisingly, Valdivia built a 2 up lead through just five holes but the match play veteran Stevens was back to all square by the close of the front nine.     Stevens took his first lead of the match at #10 with a birdie.   He added another birdie win at the 12th hole to take the 2 up advantage that he held with a string of pars through #16.  Stevens lost the 17th hole to a Valdivia birdie but then closed it out with halving pars at the final hole for a 1 up escape win.

Sam Stevens, the Oklahoma State player will have his hands full with Connor Knabe, a K-State grad who plans to turn pro in the fall.   Both players can hit very long drives and they each know how to get the ball close to the hole with their approaches.   Stay tuned!

The 36-hole Sunday finals will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the second round beginning at approximately 12:30 p.m. after a lunch break.




July 21
- Sixteen players advance from Friday morning.

The tough part of the Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship started this morning with double round days over the last three days of the event.   It will be an extreme physical test for the two golfers that advance to the Sunday finals.  Six rounds over three days in 100 degree plus temperatures will take plenty of water and a strong determination.

Chase Hanna may have dodged a bullet this morning.   It is not often that you can shot over par and win a match.   Spencer Christian struggled as well, but made a birdie when it counted the most.   Playing the 18th hole 1 down Spencer made birdie to force extra holes.   But Hanna returned the volley on #1 with a birdie to take the match and advance.    James Henderson, an Overland Park golfer currently playing for the University of Missouri at St. Louis where former Kansas City CC assistant pro Troy Halterman is the head golf coach, had a refreshing morning round with a 5&4 win over Will Gantz setting up his big challenge of playing medalist Hanna.

Park Ulrich played even par golf for 16 holes and secured a 3&2 win over Cole Christian of Wichita.  He will play fellow mid-amateur Pete Krsnich in the third round.   Krsnich took out KCCC member Travis Holt, who admitted that it was just not his day, by a 4&3 margin.

Alex Springer is quietly advancing through the bracket, but he’s making big noise in the eyes of his opponents.   Springer made six birdies over 16 holes to build a 3&2 win over Kade Brown.  Brown’s two eagles made at the par five 8th hole and the par four 13th hole were not enough to fight off the birdie machine Springer.   KCCC member Thomas Luger managed to advance 3&2 over Kale Reynolds.   He was actually 1-over par for the 16 holes.   He will have a tough time holding off Springer.

Gage Ihrig ended the Cinderella story of last-man-in Max Stucky Halley by rolling in 7 birdies over 16 holes for a 4&2 win.    Ihrig may take advantage of his youth when he plays 2016 KGA Mid-Am Player of the Year Bradley Lane in the third round.   Lane had to spend extra energy to pull out a win on the 19th hole over 2016 KGA Junior Player of the Year Grant Herrenbruck.

New Zealander Charlie Hillier won four consecutive holes on the opening nine, three of which were with birdies, to take a 4 up lead over Mark Terranova and then he just held on for a 4&3 win.   Hillier, who returns to KU in the fall, will play 1996 Kansas Amateur champion Corey Novascone from Wichita.   Novascone advanced 2&1 over former K-Stater and KCCC member Henry Simpson.  Novascone closed out the match with an eagle 3 on the par five 17th hole.

The upset of the second round was pulled off by 39th seed Alec Heinen.   The former Wichita State player defeated the 7th seed Andy Spencer 2&1.    Spencer played over par for 17 holes and fell victim to Heinen’s six timely birdies.    The long-hitting Connor Knabe from Leawood will be Heinen’s next opponent.  Knabe won 3&1 over Conrad Walcher on the strength of four birdies.

Justice Valdivia from Topeka might have more Kansas Amateur match wins over the last four years than anyone who did not become champion.  He added another win to his record by defeating seed-planter Kevin Quinley 5&4.    Valdivia made six birdies in just 14 holes for the strength-preserving win.    He will meet the younger of the Herrenbrucks in the third round.   Little brother Tate Herrenbruck took 2012 Kansas Amateur champion Kyle Smell out on the 20th hole.   Smell had a 3 hole lead after parring the 11th but let it get away with three bogeys over the next four holes.   The youngest player in the field at age 15 is showing no fear and impresses onlookers with long drives and a confident stride.

Sam Stevens has been in the finals of this event three out of the last four years.   His early exit last year has him motivated to get back to the Sunday finale.    He had defeated Conrad Roberts in 2014 at Mission Hills and managed a 1 up win over him today with 1-over par golf.   He will face Charlie Rinehart of Kansas City, KS who posted a 3&2 win over Witchayapat Sinsrang.

The Saturday Quarterfinals are Ready.

The KGA’s version of the Elite Eight has been identified.   They contestants are:

Chase Hanna (#1) - The Medalist narrowly escaped the upset bid of James Henderson.  Through 17 holes Henderson was the bunker magician.   He got up and down to save par 6 out of 7 tries.   So, on the short par four 18th hole when Henderson found another greenside bunker, it was reasonable to assume a par was coming.   Not this time.   Henderson’s rare bogey from the bunker allowed Hanna to escape with a 1 up when after making his par.

Park Ulrich (#8) – Short in stature but possessed of a powerful game, Ulrich got to go home early and get out of the heat.   His match against fellow mid-amateur Pete Krsnich only last 13 holes.   Everything went right for Ulrich and nothing went good for Krsnich.  6&5 was the result.   The first quarterfinal match will feature Chase Hanna against Park Ulrich.

Alex Springer (#4) – The Central Missouri grad from Olathe dispatched Thomas Luger with a blitz.  Only 12 holes were needed for the 7&6 win.

Gage Ihrig (#5) -  The Goodland native is having a good Kansas summer golf season.  He won The Railer in late June by an 8-stroke margin.  He advances to the quarterfinals with an impressive even par performance against Bradley Lane from Lawrence.    3&2 was the final result in Ihrig’s favor.   The Wichita State golfer will have the match of championship tomorrow morning when he squares off against Alex Springer.

Charlie Hillier (#2) – The Kiwis are proud if they happen to tune into the Kansas Amateur website.   Hillier needed some 18th hole grit to force extra holes where he won with a two-putt par.   Corey Novascone last won this title 21 years ago and back issues may have hurt his chances for a second title.   But, you would not know it from the way he played against the young collegian.   Neither player was never more than 2 up at any point in the match and they came to the final hole all square.  Hillier’s approach drew too much to a left greenside bunker while Novascone’s wedge caught the left fringe 20 feet from the hole.   Novascone played first and left his putt less than a quarter of an inch from the lip.   The par was conceded by Hillier, who then played from the bunker.   His par putt would be 10 feet from above the hole.   A fist pump signaled a conversion for par.

Connor Knabe (#10) – The K-State grad is the only Wildcat left in the championship.  In his round of 16 match Knabe won seven of the 18 holes played and five of those holes were won with a birdie.  He secured a 2 up win over former Wichita State golfer Alec Heinen of Edmond, OK.   This win sets up the first KU vs. K-State match of the championship – Hillier v. Knabe in the third quarterfinal match.

Justice Valdivia (#35) -  The Topekan and Washburn grad added another career match win to his belt this afternoon with a victory over junior golfer Tate Herrenbruck.  Never down, Valdivia won 3&2.

Sam Stevens (#6) -  With his dad Charlie, the 2010 Kansas Amateur champion, as his caddy and cart driver, Stevens played even par golf for 16 holes to secure his quarterfinal spot with a 4&2 win over Charlie Rhinehart of Kansas City, KS.   It will be Stevens against Valdivia in the last quarterfinal match.

These top eight Kansas amateur golfers will play Saturday morning and the four winners will rest for an hour and then head out in one of the two semifinal matches Saturday afternoon.    It promises to be quite a shootout as 7 of the 8 quarterfinalists sport a seed number of 10 or better.

Hole-by-hole results of today’s two rounds can be viewed at www.kansasgolf.org.   Photos of all players in the match play bracket are now posted there in the photo gallery.



July 20 -- First Round of Kansas Amateur Matches Recap

Starting at 7:30 a.m. the march of matches began from the first tee at The Kansas City Country Club.   The 32nd match began at 12:40 p.m.  The parade had its usual good performers hitting their marks and advancing.   The more compelling performances came from the “under studies” who managed to upset the opponent with the higher seed.

Medalist Chase Hanna had to play 17 holes in order to get a 3&1 win over 1999 Kansas Amateur champion Sean Thayer who earned the 64th seed last night in the 3 for 2 spot sudden death playoff.    Hanna will continue his march for his second Kansas Amateur title at 7:00 a.m. Friday when he meets Spencer Christian of Wichita.   This will be a tough test for Hanna.  Christian advanced to the semifinals last year at Southwind and he has been a top performing mid-amateur for several years.

Will Gantz of Perry, Kansas chipped in for birdie on the 19th hole to take out hard hitting senior Greg Goode of Salina.   Goode had already won two KGA titles this year – the Railer senior division and the Senior Four-Ball with partner Eric Sexton.   Gantz will next meet James Henderson of Overland Park who defeated K-State golfer Ben Fernandez from Southlake, Texas 1 up.

Bryan Norton experienced an unusual first round loss against Fairway’s Travis Holt, 4&2.   Holt will meet another seasoned match play opponent in the second round.   Pete Krsnich from Wichita won a routine 3&2 match over Jared Burns of Wichita.

Alex Springer of Olathe earned the 4th seed on the strength of his first round stroke play score of 66.   He has been a talented collegiate golfer for several years and he appears ready to make his mark in this championship.   K-State’s Jack Rickabaugh from Garnett, KS gave Springer a real scare, forcing the decision to the 20th hole where Springer birdied.   He will meet Kade Brown from Oberlin tomorrow morning.

They call the last player picked in the NFL draft “Mr. Irrelevant”.   You can’t say that about the last man into this year’s Kansas Amateur field.   Max Stucky Halley of Topeka played to the 28th seed and breezed to a 5&4 win over TJ Vilkanskas of Manhattan.   Gage Ihrig, the 5th seed won a 3&2 match over Jack Lee and he will need to be on his best game against Stucky Halley.

KU’s Charlie Hillier impressed with his 5-under par 135 to take the #2 seed.   But Brian Fehr who had to survive the sudden death playoff to get the 63rd seed took Hillier to the 20th hole where Fehr’s bogey let Hillier off the hook.   The New Zealand golfer will meet Mark Terranova in the second round.

1996 Kansas Amateur champion Corey Novascone from Wichita won his match 1 up over Jake Theiss of Leawood.   He will next take on Kansas City CC member Henry Simpson. Two other former Kansas Amateur champions also advanced out of the first round.  Kyle Smell of Overland Park, who was recently reinstated to amateur status after a brief professional career, took out K-State golfer Trent Evans 2 up.   Oklahoma State golfer Sam Stevens, the 2015 champion, defeated South African Shayne Allen 5&4.   2009 champion Matt Ewald was not so fortunate.  Conrad Walcher from Oklahoma City won 3&2.

A player to be reckoned with will be Andy Spencer from Prairie Village.  Last month he won the Watson Challenge over a field of professionals including legend Tom Watson and some top amateurs at Milburn Country Club.  Today he met Matthew Quandt, an Overland Park lawyer who only recently took up the game.   Quandt held a 2 up advantage after the opening nine holes.   Spencer made a comeback over the back nine to square the match and then won on the 19th hole when Quandt suffered a bogey.  He will not take any future opponent lightly, including Alec Heinen from Edmond, Oklahoma who advanced with a 1 up win over Tracy Chamberlin, the reigning KGA Senior Player of the Year.

Jackson Foth looked like a man on a mission to establish himself as a player to be feared.  He had the #3 seed.   But he stumbled today in his opening match against 62nd seed Kevin Quinley of Salina where the result was 3&2 in Quinley’s favor.   Quinley will meet Justice Valdivia from Topeka who won the all-lefty first round match over Zach Sokolosky of Wichita 3&2.

The youngest player in the field, 15 year-old Tate Herrenbruck from Salina, took out Travis Mays 4&3.   His big brother Grant Herrenbruck, the 2016 KGA Junior Player of the Year, won his match over Sam Humphreys of Edmond, Oklahoma in 20 holes.   The brothers are on opposite sides of the bracket, so it is possible that they would meet in the finals on Sunday.   If that happens, the course will be filled with family and friends from Salina.

Defending champion Blake Allen, the Washburn sophomore to be, was dormie 2 on his opponent Bradley Lane of Lawrence.   Ironically, the reigning KGA Player of the Year drew the reigning KGA Mid-Am Player of the Year for the opening round.   Lane kicked in his POY talent to birdie the next three holes to surprise Allen with the win on the 19th hole.    Lane will meet reigning KGA Junior Player of the Year Grant Herrenbruck in Friday’s second round.

The par three 4th hole was the exciting scene of a 220 yard hybrid shot played by Witchayapat Sinsrang of Thailand.   The shot landed 10 feet below the hole and rolled directly to the bottom of the cup for the championship’s first ace.   His opponent, Caleb Haight of Wichita was unable to halve the hole.  Sinsrang had the momentum and won the match 4&2.

For a complete bracket with hole-by-hole postings of every match, go to www.kansasgolf.org.   Also, the photo gallery has new images from the Kansas Amateur posted daily.

 


July 19 -- The Match Play Bracket is Set for the 107th Kansas Amateur

Wednesday afternoon of Kansas Amateur week always has the same question on everyone’s mind – what will be the “cut” number?

Early returns were tracking toward a 10-over par 150 but with 75% of the afternoon players now finished, the number moved to 149.   Within the hour the number could fall to 148.

Chase Hanna is making the most of his final amateur event.   He matched his first round score by shooting 3-under par 67 for a 134 total making another 4 birdies today.   He is likely to claim Medalist honors and the #1 seed.

Park Ulrich shot even par 70 and 2-under par 138.

Eight former Kansas Amateur champions made the match play bracket.  Besides Hanna and Norton there are Sean Thayer of Garden City (1999 at Milburn), Corey Novascone of Wichita (1996 at Crestview CC), Sam Stevens of Wichita (2015 at Wichita CC), defending champion Blake Allen from Lenexa, Matt Ewald of Topeka (2009 at Kansas City CC) and Kyle Smell of Overland Park (2012 at Sand Creek Station).

One interesting observation is those that have a Kansas Amateur runner-up finish on their golf resume.   Sam Stevens (2013 and 2014 at Indian Hills CC and Mission Hills CC), Patrick Roth (2008 at Wichita CC), Kyle Smell (2011 at Hallbrook CC) and Pete Krsnich (2004 at Shadow Glen GC) are all golfers that came close.  Stevens and Smell each eventually won a title.

Charlie Hillier, a KU golfer from New Zealand, came within one stroke of tying his former Jayhawk teammate Chase Hanna.  With a round of 68 today, Hillier stood at 5-under par 135.   He will get the #2 seed and the honor of sleeping in every day.   The #1 seed always has the first match of the morning.

Gage Ihrig, this year’s Railer champion from Goodland, had a very interesting start today.  Beginning his round on #10 he hit a booming drive to within 35 yards of the green.   With a wedge he hit his ball into the hole for an opening eagle 2.   He reported that he put it on autopilot for the next 17 holes and ended up with a 4-under par 66 and a total of 137.   He will have the #5 seed.

Sam Stevens wants to get back the finals and his 2-under 68 today earned him the #6 seed with a 137 total.   Tate Herrenbruck, the youngest player in the field at age 15, made the match play bracket with the #51.  Older brother Grant Herrenbruck also earned a match play seed.

149 was the cut number.   Five players played off for the last two seeds.   Two of those five players did not appear for the playoff, so the remaining three players contested the #63 and #64 seeds.   They were Don Walsworth, Jr., Sean Thayer and Brian Fehr.   Thayer remarked that this would be his 5th Kansas Amateur playoff.   Playing hole #1, a short par four, Fehr made a 6 foot putt for birdie to get the 63rd seed.   Walsworth three-putted to allow Thayer to make a 3-foot par putt for the final seed.   Thayer will have the opportunity to defeat the #1 seed Hanna at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow.

The match play bracket is available for viewing online at www.kansasgolf.org.   Online viewers can follow the action at the same location.



Wednesday is the day to set the Match Play bracket

Today is what it’s all about.   Get your golf game in shape, play two good rounds on one for the state’s very best venues, and see a seed number next to your name.   If a player makes it to the match play bracket, he has a chance to win six matches in four days and become the 107th Kansas Amateur champion.

The morning wave started in hot, humid and still conditions but a small cold front brought a refreshing light rain shower and a cool wind until about noon.   The afternoon players will see the sun return along with higher temperatures.   Nevertheless, conditions are very good for scoring.

Jackson Foth improved on this day one score by taking the early 36-hole lead at 136, 4-under par.   His second round 67 had five birdies.    He may not end up medalist by the end of the day but he will have a very good seeding and he appears poised to make a run.

Andy Spencer, the 2017 Watson Challenge champion from Prairie Village, got his game on track today with a 4-under par 66.   He started on the back nine where he made nine pars, then lit it up on the front nine coming in with four birdies.   Spencer has the skill to still be here playing on Sunday.

Bryan Norton may end up being the oldest player remaining in the field after today’s action.   Norton set the record for oldest winner of this event in 2014 when at the age of 55 he defeated Sam Stevens.   Now at 58 he could raise the bar on that record with what would be his fourth Kansas Amateur title.   He finished at even par 70 today for a total of 1-under par 139.  He should be easily seeded in the top 10.

Charlie Rhinehart of Kansas City, Kansas posted a 1-under par 69 today to stand at even par 140 to secure his spot in the first round of match play on Thursday.

As of 3:00 p.m. the second wave play is well under way with slightly overcast conditions but air temperatures are rising above 90 degrees with very high humidity.   Part of the challenge for the closing session will be staying hydrated.   The projected cut line stands at 10-over par 150.   By 7:00 p.m. tonight we will know the actual cut number and whether a playoff for the final match play spots will be needed.

 

 

July 18 - Afternoon sessions adds four more players to the top of the leaderboard

1-under par seemed to be the number for the afternoon session of 72 players at Kansas City Country Club.   The wind did pick up a bit from the south making for some difficult par four holes into the wind.  Four players managed to find a way to score a few birdies and get into red number.

Jackson Foth of Lake Quivira converted three birdies after hitting 16 greens in regulation.   His only bogeys came when he failed to hit the green in regulation.   That type of consistent play should help tomorrow.

Conrad Walcher, a senior to be golfer at Wichita State and from Oklahoma City, made his 1-under par 69 with three birdies and only two bogies as well.

3-time Kansas Amateur champion Bryan Norton from Mission Hills also shot a 69 with the same formula: 3 birdies and 2 bogies.   Norton knows he will need to make more birdies once the matches begin.

The most compelling 69 of the day came from Topekan Max Stucky who was the fifth alternate for the field.   When 2006 Kansas Amateur champion Drew Lethem withdrew on Saturday after the month-early birth his new baby, that created a spot for Stucky.   He made the most of the last-minute opportunity to add his name to the 69 column, again with the same three birdie, two bogey run.

After one round the 64th place lands on the 5-over par score, seemingly predicting a play-off tomorrow evening at either 150 or 151.   Stay tuned or follow the hole-by-hole action at www.kansasgolf.org.




107th Kansas Amateur begins with familiar names at the top of the leaderboard

2013 Kansas Amateur champion Chase Hanna is making the 107th Kansas Amateur his amateur “final act”.   He plans to turn professional the day after he either wins his second Kansas Amateur title or the day he loses a match.   With a strong field he knows that hoisting the champion’s trophy will take some of his best play, but with rounds like today’s first round of stroke play, Hanna will be a strong favorite.

With consistent tee to green play, Hanna only had one bogey.   He reported that he hit 14 greens in regulation and converted four of those for a birdie to shoot a 3-under par 67.   Hanna had the advantage of playing in the first group of the day so he sits atop the leaderboard with the early returns.

Former Kansas Four-Ball champion Park Ulrich converted six putts for birdie, the longest of which was only 18 feet.   But his miscues including a double bogey put him in at 2-under par 68.   His was openly disappointed with his round but a player that makes six birdies will be a threat to advance in match play.

Wichita’s Kale Reynolds got hot in the middle of his round and it was not due to the muggy weather conditions.  He ran off five birdies in a row from #15 through #1 having started his 3-under par round of 67 from the #10 tee.   His only error was a ball that caught a cart path and bounded over the boundary fence on the difficult par three #14 hole.   A triple bogey was the result.   The same round in match play would have defeated any player in the field, but Reynolds will have to wait until Thursday to start a championship run.

Defending champion Blake Allen turned his five birdies into another 3-under par 67 to join the crowd at the top of the leaderboard.   His consistent play should easily find him a seed in the match play bracket, and then his opponents will get to see his incredible short game.

New Zealand native Charlie Hillier enters his junior year at the University of Kansas and Coach Bermel will like seeing his team leader make five birdies in route to a popular number of 67.   Five birdies and only two bogies on the opening day for Hillier put him in a good position to continue to match play.   Ironically, Hillier needed a little luck to even get into the championship field.  Sitting in the Eagle Bend clubhouse as the first alternate to play in the Second Chance qualifier, Hillier was suddenly called to the first tee when another competitor failed to report with five minutes of his starting time.   One player’s misfortune was Hillier saving grace.

The low round of the morning wave was turned in by Central Missouri grad Alex Springer.   The Olathe native rolled in seven birdies to finish at 4-under par 66.   Springer’s amateur career will soon end as he qualified for next month’s US Amateur to be played at the iconic Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.  A Kansas Amateur title could give the future professional some great momentum heading into the amateur “major” championship.

2015 Kansas Amateur champion Sam Stevens from Wichita cruised in with a 1-under par 69.   Playing with Stevens was Overland Park’s Travis May.   Seemingly matching each other shot for shot, May finished at 2-under par 68.   Connor Knabe, the long-hitting former K-State golfer from Leawood, ran in five birdies in route to his 2-under 68.   Knabe fought back from a 3-over par start over his first five holes.

With the morning wave complete the score of 3 or perhaps 4 over par may be as high as any players dare score in order to maintain hopes of making into the match play bracket.   The afternoon wave of 72 players will finish later this evening.