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Kansas Golf Associaition

Edmond’s Max McGreevy Tracks to The Railer Title

As the KGA Stroke Play Championship Grows in Size and Strength

Results --  Photo Gallery

University of Oklahoma freshman-to-be Max McGreevy made the trip north from Edmond, Oklahoma with his parents to test his game in The Railer, while visiting the Wichita area Max McGreevywhere his dad, Brian, was a top high school and collegiate golfer.  They all left with big smiles.  Max shot an impressive 2-under par 214 at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kansas to win The Railer, the KGA’s stroke play championship.

Now having been played three times, The Railer boasts two champions from Oklahoma.  Hunter Sparks won the inaugural event in 2011 while the Oklahoma City native was playing at Wichita State.   Jack Courington was champion last year having finished his collegiate career at Missouri State.

McGreevy was paired in the final group for Sunday’s third and final round with co-leader Chase Hanna of Leawood, Kansas.   Hanna, an in-coming KU golfer and current Kansas Junior Amateur champion, was the first round leader having posted an impressive 4-under par 68.  Difficult windy conditions on Saturday for round two sent scores higher for most of the field, and Hanna’s 76 put him in a tie for the lead with McGreevy at even par 144.   One stroke back was Harry Higgs, the SMU junior from Overland Park, Kansas.

Higgs had something to prove for himself having narrowly missed The Railer title last year.  After the first four holes of the final 18, Higgs scorecard read bogey, quad, bogey, bogey.   For anyone else, a 7-over par start that puts you 7 strokes away from the lead would put your interest at a low point and your mind on anything but golf.  But not Higgs.

Three consecutive birdies on holes five, six and seven put Higgs within five strokes of McGreevy.  Hanna was four-over par through the first seven holes and was three strokes out of the lead.   At the turn McGreevy had what appeared to be a safe lead over the rest of the field as no one was making a charge and his even par 36 displayed a calm, steady control of his game.

Higgs birdied the 10th hole, known by locals as “The Beast”, from short range having hit the flagstick with his approach.  McGreevy missed his birdie attempt.  On the short par four 11th hole Higgs long birdie putt narrowly missed while McGreevy failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker.  McGreevy’s lead was now only three strokes with seven holes remaining.

McGreevy and Higgs traded punches on #12 and #13.  McGreevy birdied the difficult par three #12 and Higgs countered with a birdie on #13.  McGreevy was trying to get to the clubhouse has fast as possible as Higgs was clearly over his bad start with five birdies in the last nine holes.

The drama of the championship played out on the reachable par five #16 hole.  With a three stroke lead and three holes to play, both Higgs and McGreevy placed drives in position for a go at the green.  McGreevy played first and came up short of the green where there was a tightly tucked flagstick on the left finger of the putting surface.  He would have a difficult pitch from the greenside slope out of thick rough.   Higgs was running out of holes and needed to do something special.  His six-iron approach from 190 yards landed perfectly on the front fringe to take some of the momentum off the ball and allowed it to assume a putt-Steve Newman, 2013 Senior Championlike pace toward the hole.  Spectators and officials at the green saw Higgs ball rolling with dead aim at the hole for a rare double eagle.   The balled seemed to “take a peek” at the bottom of the hole as it strolled past the left lip and then stopped only eight inches away.

As the two contenders approached the 16th green they both realized that a two-stroke swing might be possible.  Higgs was certain to make his eagle putt so McGreevy needed to get his third stroke close in order to maintain a two stroke lead.   Showing his competitive nature and some experience beyond his years, McGreevy surveyed the green, left the flagstick in the hole, and set up with his wedge for what might be the shot of the tournament.  He put a good stroke on the ball and it came out of the rough perfectly.   Seconds later the ball dropped in the hole for eagle.

McGreevy pumped the air and Higgs just shook his head and smiled.  Two holes and all pars later Max McGreevy accepted congratulations from Harry Higgs as the 2013 champion of The Railer.  Both knew they had just played a round permanently etched in their memory.


Steve Newman Wins Again

Wichita senior golfer Steve Newman is having a great year.  Starting in August 2012 when he won the Kansas Senior Amateur at Flint Hills National, Newman has won the 2013 Kansas Mid-Amateur and finished runner up at the 2013 KGA Public Links Championship.  For good measure, Newman now has consecutive wins in the Senior Division of The Railer.

Newman’s scoring was the best of the entire field.  A three-under par 213 was one better than Max McGreevy, the winner of the open division.  Rounds of three-under par 69 and two-under par 70 allowed Newman to coast in round three with a two-over par 74.  His fourteen birdies over 36 holes lead the field in that category.  Amazingly, six of those birdies came in the round two when high winds sent scores for most of the field into high 70s and 80s.

Randy Vautravers played consistent golf to finish at one-over par 217 to take Senior Division runner-up honors.