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Kansas Golf Associaition

Experience Prevails at Kansas Four-Ball

Stroke Play Results -- Match Play Results

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Chase Hanna, the 2013 Kansas Amateur and Junior Amateur champion and current KU golfer, recruited Joseph Winslow to be his four-ball partner for the 27th Kansas Four-Ball Championship held at Alvamar Golf Course in early June.   It was a smart choice.  Winslow just finished his eligibility at the University of South Florida and he is using this summer to prepare for a professional golf career commencing in the fall.

The collegiate duo, both capable of making several birdies, secured a top seed (#3) after shooting 7-under par 137 in the stroke play rounds used to determine the match play bracket for the top 16 teams.  Medalist honors went to “veterans” Conrad Roberts and Bradley Lane, both of Lawrence, who cruised the familiar course in 10-under par 134.

After a three hour weather delay on Saturday morning, the first day of match play, Hanna and Winslow needed all 18 holes to secure a 1 up win over Clarke Fry and Brad Welch of Kansas City.  The afternoon match was a surprisingly quick 5&4 win over the defending champions Colby Yates and Jordan Hecker, who could not recover from the barrage of four consecutive birdies.  Hanna and Winslow were 4 up after five holes and then coasted with mistake-free golf for the next nine holes.

On the other side of the bracket, the #4 seed was winning and advancing.  Jared Burns and Alex Graf, both 2015 spring graduates of Wichita’s Kapaun High School and members of the Kansas State high school boy’s golf champion team, won two close matches to advance to the semifinals on Sunday morning against the Kade & Kelly Brown of Oberlin, Kansas.   The brothers Brown had taken out the medalists Roberts and Lane with a convincing 4&2 win in the second round.

Hanna and Winslow employed the same early birdie approach in the semifinals against a formidable team of Jackson Foth of Lake Quivira and Michael Greene of Overland Park.  Three up with birdies on the first three holes gave them a lead they would build to 4 up after eight holes and then play out the string for a 3&2 win.   In one of the closest matches of the bracket where no side was ever more than up 1, Burns and Graf stood on the 18th tee all square with the Browns in the other semifinal match of Sunday morning.   The youngsters booked a par on the tough final hole while watching the Browns falter thereby securing a place in the afternoon final match with a 1 up win.

To any objective observer the final match would appear to be a mismatch.  Experienced and successful collegians with titles to their name against two 18-year olds would surely result in a win for the “old” guys.   Burns and Graf had a different plan.  Burns birdied the first hole to take the 1 up lead and they matched Winslow and Hanna par-for-par over the next three holes.   On the fifth tee the players were advised that too much time had been used to play the first four holes, so each player would now be timed and subject to a slow play loss of hole penalty.   Noticeably rushed, neither Burns nor Graf could make a par after errant drives.   But they regained their composure and a 1 up lead with a Burns birdie on the par five #8 hole.

After 11 holes of the final match, Hanna and Winslow were 3-under par and still down 1 to their younger opponents.   At both #9 and #11 the holes were halved with birdies.  Then at #12, a par three hole made more difficult by a tucked hole location played into a strong wind, Burns sank a birdie putt that gave his team a 2 up advantage with only six holes to play.    Hanna and Winslow now felt the pressure and kicked their game into a higher gear.

Taking advantage of a mistake by Burns and Graf, Hanna made a par four at #13 to cut the deficient in half.  With the honors at the 14th tee, Winslow continued the comeback.  To entice the players to drive for the green, the tee markers were set at 275 yards for the par four.  Winslow’s tee shot came to rest hole high but well right of the putting green.  Hanna’s first shot was long and right.  The door was open for Burns, but his tee shot found the water hazard to the left of the green.  Not to be deterred, Graf hit his drive on line to the flag but it drifted only slightly right finishing hole high but on a downhill slope making for a difficult second shot.  Winslow’s pitch shot displayed much poise as it landed softly and would leave him a straight 8-foot putt for birdie.   Graf’s downhill chip was too difficult to get the ball close.  Winslow made his birdie putt and Graf did not.  The match was now all square with only four holes to play.

The 15th hole and 16th holes were halved with pars.

The 17th hole is a difficult par five hole where a well place long drive is needed just to be able to hit a second shot into position for a third shot to the putting green fronted by a water hazard.   Still with honors, Winslow and Hanna both launched towering drives down the fairway coming to rest on level lies inviting a shot to the green.  Burns and Graf also found the fairway and Graf was the longest of the four.  Burns played first to a wedge area short of the water hazard and then looked on as the other three made their attempts to carry the water and reach the green in two.  Winslow again leaked his shot to the right of the green, but hole high.  Hanna was next.  His KU team practices on this golf course, so having had the shot before, the club selection was correct and the swing was confident.   He landed on the green and settled within eagle range.  Graf needed some heroics.  His second shot had the distance but it landed right of the green, leaving him with a chance for birdie if he could chip close to the hole cut only five steps off the right edge.

Try as they might, Burns and Graf could not get a ball in the hole in four strokes at #17 and they reluctantly had to concede birdie to Hanna after his eagle attempt stopped within a foot of the hole.   So, with only the 18th hole to play, Hanna and Winslow had erased a 2 hole deficit and now only needed to halve the final hole for the win and the title.

Winslow lead the way off the 18th tee with a drive that flew left over the water hazard landing less than 100 yards for the putting green.  No other player in the group would dare such a risky play, but that Winslow drive was the difference.  An easy par for Winslow was all that was needed as Burn’s long birdie putt from the front of the green came up short.

The “experienced” team won the 27th Kansas Four-Ball, but the “experience gained” will serve Burns/Graf team well in years to come.

In the Masters Division the title went to another experienced team of Michael Rack and Chris Hutchens, both of Lawrence.  This pair had previously won the Kansas Four-Ball Masters division when the championship was strictly stroke play.  After 36 holes of stroke play this year they found themselves tied with three other teams at 6-under par 138.  Since the last round was delayed three hours due to weather, a shotgun start was employed to get the competition concluded before dusk.  As a result, all ties were broken by lot and seeds in the match play bracket were assigned.  Rack and Hutchens “drew” the 4th seed out of 8 teams advancing.

After a narrow 1 up win over Bob Bezek and Richard Stuntz, Rack/Hutchens played John Bailey and Pete Robbins who had taken down the #1 seed Dan Zimmerman and Chris Campbell.  A 1 up advantage was again the result.  That put them into the finals against Zac Burton and Brian Fehr.  Rack/Hutchens knew the key would be how they played the par five holes since that would be their long-hitting opponent’s strength.  They matched birdie-for-birdie on the first three par fives and then won only two holes against losing a single hole over the 18 holes played.  That equaled an exciting 1 up win over very worthy opponents.