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Kansas Golf Associaition

“Old” Man Newman Tops the Mid-Amateur Field

Six others finish as Runner-up

Steve Newman, the 52 year-old veteran amateur golfer from Wichita, knows how to win.  Steve NewmanSince “coming of senior age”, Newman has won the 2012 Kansas Senior Amateur and the Senior division of the 2012 Railer.  He is the reigning KGA Senior Player-of-the-Year.  In his youth Newman won two KGA Public Links title in 1995 and 2009.  He has even won a few team titles.

The KGA Mid-Amateur was played May 12-13 at historic Topeka Country Club, a venue to Newman’s liking.  Narrow fairways and large well-placed trees make the Perry Maxwell original parkland style golf course one of the state’s most difficult challenges, albeit it’s apparent short yardage.   Newman’s game is built on fairways and greens and great putting, so it should be no surprise that he claimed the KGA Mid-Amateur title as a senior in age.  But, it was a surprise to him!

So, while sitting on the patio enjoying the nice day after posting his even par 71 and a total of two-over par 144, Newman figured he would have a good outcome but it never occurred to him that another KGA title was in the cards.  After all, at least six other much younger golfers had first round scores better than his and surely a couple of them would come in with a lower total.  What he did not take into account was the difficulty of the conditions as the leaders negotiated the final holes.

With temperatures soaring into the low 90s and the west wind gusting to 20, all of the contenders scored more bogies than birdies.  It was a day of “if only” for each of the record six golfers who finished tied for second in the field of 86 golfers.

Steve Newman’s even par 71 which included three birdies, coupled with a first round 73, put his 144 total on the scoreboard one stroke ahead of TJ Vilkanskas who had also posted an even par round.  Then the “surprise” began for Newman:

Corey Novascone, the 1996 Kansas Amateur champion who had a short run at professional golf, knows how to make a lot of birdies.  He made five of them.  But six bogies including three in a row from holes 9 through 11 spoiled his bid for his first individual amateur title in 17 years.  His second round 72 put him one shot back at 145.

Next it was Kit Grove, the 2009 KGA Mid-Amateur champion.  Having posted a 72 in the first round, Grove could easily post par or better in the second round.  In the stretch of 12 holes from #2 through #13 Grove only made four pars.  His three birdies were not enough to overcome the five bogies, resulting in a two-over par 73 and another player at 145.

Zac Burton, the long-hitting member of the 2012 Kansas USGA State Team trio, had a second round similar to Grove’s.  In another stretch of 12 holes from #7 through #18, Burton made three birdies but five bogies, including one on each of the last two holes, putting him as the third golfer at 145.

That meant only two more contenders – Conrad Roberts and Pete Krsnich – remained.  Adam Head, who posted an even par 71 in the first round, was not having a good day and was no longer in contention.

Krsnich had a “never give up” first round.  He started out with three consecutive bogies and managed to finish at one-under par 70 to be the overnight leader.  The second round had its own wild start with birdies at #2 and #3, but those were bookended by a bogey at #1 and #5 and the unthinkable double bogey at the par three #4.  Krsnich birdied at #7 and felt fine with his front side one-over par 36.    Back-to-back bogies at #10 and #11 may have ended his chances but after a birdie at the par four #16, he was tied for the lead with Roberts who bogied #16.  The 435 yard par four #17 hole into a very strong west wind was a big chance Steve Newmanto succeed or bumped.  A double bogey would normally be the end of it, but Roberts shared the same fate.

Conrad Roberts, always a contender and the 2007 Kansas Four-Ball champion, was having a very steady even-par round through 15 holes when his bogey at #16 was a two stroke swing with Krsnich.  So, after his double bogey at #17, he and Krsnich each needed a birdie on the drivable 284 yard par four #18 in order to force a playoff with Newman.

Krsnich and Roberts each played for the green rather than lay up.  Roberts found the right greenside bunker, which could be tough since the hole was located on the upper right tier of the small putting green.  Krsnich was on the left fringe with a very manageable uphill chip.

After their approaches, both players had makeable birdie putts.  Roberts’ attempt from 15 feet lost its speed at the cup and veered to the right.  Another 145 on the board.

Krsnich was much closer at eight feet for his birdie try.  He knew he needed to make it in order to get into a playoff.  The putt had little, if any, break and only slightly uphill. His good stroke left the ball one inch short.  Another 145 on the board.

That’s six golfers at 145 and one “old guy” at 144!  Steve Newman said he was surprised to win the 2013 KGA Mid-Amateur Championship at Topeka Country Club – he shouldn’t be!

For complete results and the photo gallery of the 2013 KGA Mid-Amateur go to www.kansasgolf.org.  The site for the 2014 championship has not yet been announced.