KGA July slate includes 102nd Kansas Amateur, Junior week
Newton’s Sand Creek Station golf course is a big part of the KGA championship schedule this year, with its brightest moment in the spotlight later this month.
The challenging Jeff Brauer-designed layout, which was chosen to host the 2014 USGA Amateur Public Links Championship, hosted the second Railer -- Kansas Stroke Play Championship late last month and is the site for the 102nd Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship July 23-29. The course will also be the site for the KGA’s annual Senior Series Championship in September.
“This will be the first time the Kansas Amateur has been played at Sand Creek Station and we expect this will be another outstanding championship,” says KGA Executive Director Kim Richey. “With the news from the USGA that the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links will be hosted by Sand Creek Station Golf Course, our best amateurs already know how challenging that venue is.”
Many of the state and region’s best amateur players will convene for two rounds of stroke-play qualifying with the top 64 players moving on to match play at a layout that was tabbed for the USGA’s top event for public course golfers.
“It’s certainly an honor,” Tuohey says of hosting the KGA’s signature event. “We think Sand Creek Station, with its geographic location and the quality of the golf course it just sets up as an ideal venue for a Kansas Amateur Championship. We’ll put our course up against anybody in the state as far as difficulty and overall quality. We’re excited. We think it’s going to bring in a lot of community support. Again, with the KGA, with think we have a winning formula here.”
Competitors can qualify for the state’s biggest championship through one of the exempt status criteria or through one of the local qualifiers this summer, including two more July 2 -- at Willowbend Golf Club in Wichita and Meadowbrook Golf & Country Club in Prairie Village. Players will even have one last shot at a spot in the Amateur field at the “second-chance qualifier” at Lawrence’s Alvamar Golf Club on July 11.
Last year, Wichita State’s Hunter Sparks won his first Kansas Am title at Leawood’s Hallbrook Country Club. Sparks, 2010 medalist in the event at Prairie Dunes, defeated 2011 medalist and Kansas State golfer Kyle Smell 2 and 1 in the 36-hole final.
Also in July, Kansas junior golfers from all across the state convene in Emporia for the Junior Section Team and Junior Match Play championships. It’s another chance for the Kansas juniors to enjoy the hospitality of the community which has become a frequent stop for KJGA championship events.
“The golf course and the city, they do a great job,” Cummins says. “They’re a great host when we come to town so we always look forward to going to Emporia.”
On July 16, section teams will get a chance a practice round at Emporia Municipal before 36 holes of stroke play are contested over the two following days to decide a Section Team and individual champions. Section Teams will include three players in the 11 & under division; four from each of the 12-13 and 14-15 divisions; and five from the 16 & older division. Note: All players must confirm participation one week before the Championship or an alternate is notified.
Last year, the South Central Team won the championship and Wellington’s Myles Miller was individual champion at Mariah Hills in Dodge City.
The top 16 players on the points list following the Junior Section Team then move on to the Junior Match Play Championship July 18-19 at Emporia Municipal. Morning first-round and afternoon quarterfinal matches are held the first day with morning semifinals and the afternoon, 18-hole championship match on the second day.
Miller, now at Wichita State, capped a big week at Mariah Hills last year with a 4 and 3 win over Russell’s Jordan Hecker in the Match Play finals en route to earning KGA junior player of the year honors.
Watkins shines at U.S. Open
Former Kansas State University and current Nationwide Tour golfer Aaron Watkins had a fine showing at last month’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Watkins turned in rounds of 72-71-72-71 and his 6-over total of 286 tied for 15th place. PGA Tour standout Webb Simpson won the Championship at 1-over 281.
Watkins played the first two rounds of the Championship with Americans Morgan Hoffman and John Peterson. Peterson had a hole-in-one in the third round and was among the leaders deep into the final round. The former LSU golfer finished tied for fourth place after 71-70-72-70—283.
Watkins, a Phoenix native, earned his trip to the U.S. Open at the sectional qualifier held in early June at Germantown Country Club in Memphis, Tenn. He had rounds of 68 and 66 to finish at 8-under 134 and tie for second place at the event.
KGA golfers among Public Links qualifiers
Two Kansas Golf Association golfers secured spots in the United States Amateur Public Links Championship at 36-hole qualifying events last month.
On June 12 at Auburn Hills Golf Course in Wichita, players teed off in search of the one qualifying spot and Sterling’s Michael Gellerman, winner of the 2011 KGA Junior Amateur Championship and now a student at the University of Oklahoma, earned the spot with 69-74—143. Kansas State golfer Daniel Wood of Leander, Texas, shot 73-71-144 and is first alternate.
On June 13 at Kansas City’s Swope Memorial Golf Course, 18 contestants began the day hoping to capture the single qualifying spot and Raytown, Mo.’s Steve Groom, 2011 KGA senior player of the year, secured his ninth invitation to the U.S. APL. Groom’s 69-68--137 was two shots clear of first runner-up Bryan Wright of Stanberry, Mo., who’ll serve as first alternate from the site.
The 2012 United States Amateur Public Links Championship is set for July 9-14 at Soldier Hollow Golf Club in Midway, Utah.
Wichita’s Stevens earns Junior Amateur spot
Twenty-eight young men started the day June 20 at Prairie Village’s Milburn Country Club with the hopes of advancing to Stratham, N.H. for the United States Junior Amateur Championship. After 36 holes in difficult and windy conditions, two players punched their tickets to the national championship.
Eric Ricard of Shreveport, La., grabbed medalist honors with a 70-75--145 over the two rounds of play. Ricard is one of the highest ranked junior players in the country, currently ranked 59th by Junior Golf Scoreboard.
Nabbing the second position was Wichita resident Sam Stevens. Stevens fired rounds of 71 and 75 to finish at 146.
“That was awesome…Milburn Country Club is a really good course and it was really windy there too, it was blowing about 25 or 30 the entire day. I played really good,” said Wichita Country Club’s Stevens, 15. “It’s awesome getting to go to that tournament. It’s a pretty big deal with (college) coaches… I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully I can make it to match play and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Blue Springs, Mo.’s J.P. Derksen and Mission Hills’ Preston Fleenor secured the first and second alternate positions with scores of 147 and 152 respectively.
The Junior Amateur Championship is slated for July 21-26 at The Golf Club of New England in Stratham.