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Kansas Golf Associaition

Three-peat for Team Norton in Kansas Father-Son


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Two years ago Bryan and Johnnie Norton won the Kansas Father-Son at Lawrence CC from the “junior” division; the first duo to ever win the championship with the son partner still in Johnnie & Bryan Nortonhigh school.  Last year, they repeated with a win at Tallgrass CC with Johnnie, then about to start college at KU, carrying the team the week after dad Bryan had won the Kansas Amateur.  What would they do this year at Lake Quivira?

The answer was to make more eagles than any other team!  With four eagles, all made by Bryan, over the first 27 holes, the Norton team cruised to a six-stroke win by shooting 62-61-123, or 19-under par.  They added 11 birdies in the two rounds and managed to avoid any bogeys over the difficult terrain at Lake Quivira Country Club.   Their 123 total was one stroke shy of tying the event record set by Gary and Dan Woodland in 2006 at Shawnee Country Club.

The Norton title defense began with a string of three birdies through the opening four holes and then the fun began at the par three #8 hole.  With the hole cut invitingly close to the front of the green and away from the danger of the water hazard, Bryan flew a 135-yard wedge to an inch from the hole and then celebrated as the ball spun into the hole for an ace!  That put them at 5-under par through eight holes.  The back nine, while not as exciting, was more productive.  They made four more birdies to finish the day at 9-under par 62.

Two teams, both in the junior division, were within two strokes of the Nortons after the first round.  Darrel and Koy Holden of Shawnee posted a 7-under par 64.  Dad Darrel birdied three of the four par fives and son Koy contributed two birdies of his own on the back nine.   Mark Steiner and his 14 year-old son Cooper, one of the two youngest players in last Koy & Darrel Holdenmonth’s Kansas Amateur, also shot 7-under par 64.  They birdied seven times on their first nine holes to shoot 29 and open a lead over a field of 79 teams. A single bogey and dad Mark’s sixth birdie of the day at #12 put them in the clubhouse tied for second and a chance to play the final round with the Nortons.

George and Michael McDonnell of Leawood also posted an impressive first round with three birdies each to put them at 6-under par 65 and clearly in the mix for the championship title.

The McDonnells did use the second round to make their move.  Michael birdied the first two holes, but slipped with two bogeys on the front nine.  George contributed with two other birdies on the front.  But they made their charge on the back nine with five birdies to finish at 7-under par 64 and a total of 13-under par 129.  What they did not know was how team Norton had taken flight on “wings of eagles” behind them.

Bryan Norton mentioned that he was a bit nervous about the finish of the event.  He woke up at 4:00 a.m. and went to the gym.  That worked for the veteran senior amateur.  After an opening par Bryan chipped in for an eagle 3 on the par five #2 hole.  He then ran off three consecutive pars and watched Johnnie can a birdie at the difficult downhill par three #6 hole.   The par five #7 hole is a dramatic hole with an elevated tee and a two-tiered green in the distance.  Bryan hit his drive well down the fairway putting him in position to reach the green with his second shot.  With a huge lead and nothing to lose, Bryan landed his second shot just below the hole where it stopped a mere seven feet away.  The putt was converted for his second eagle of the round.

After a par on #8 (the hole of the first round ace), Bryan hit a routine wedge shot to the par four ninth green.   It was a good shot, but the group had to arrive on the elevated green’s surface to find his ball in the hole!  That was three eagles by Bryan in the last eight holes, putting team Norton at 7-under par for the front nine, 16-under par for the tournament.

The Steiners were witnessing this Norton craziness and could not keep pace.  Even with a chip-in for birdie on #8 by Cooper, they could only post an even par round of 71 eventually falling to sixth place, but runner-up in the junior division.

The Holdens kept their chemistry on “high test” with another seven birdies on day two.  Darrel managed three in a row on holes #5 through #7 and Koy brought them to the house with two of his three back nine birdies at #16 and #17.  Their 5-under par 66 and total of 12-under par 130 easily made them the winner of the junior division and third overall.

Ron and Ronnie McHenry of Topeka had the second best round of day two with seven birdies by Ronnie, a member of the Washburn University golf team, and one from dad Ron, the Washburn women’s basketball coach.  Their 8-under par 63 put them in at 9-under par 133 for fourth place.

Team Norton kept right on rollin’ through the hills and valleys of the Lake Quivira back nine with Bryan adding three more birdies.  It was not whether they won their third Kansas Father-Son Championship, it was by how many.  With four eagles in two days on top of 11 birdies and no bogey mistakes, the Nortons finished at 19-under par 123, six better than the McDonnells at 129.

Bryan and Johnnie Norton became the first father-son team to win three KGA Father-Son championships, accomplishing the feat in a streak of three years.  The championship next year at Topeka Country Club could very well be another win – it’s one of Bryan’s favorite golf courses!