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Kansas Amateur Daily Wrap Up


Sam Stevens Sprints out of the Gate on Day One of Kansas Amateur

Stroke Play Results -- Match Play Results

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You can’t win the Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship on the first day of the stroke play qualifying rounds, but you can certainly lose it.  With the object to be one of the top 64 players after 36 holes of stroke play in order to be seeded in the single-elimination match play bracket, the 156-player field started the first round under ideal scoring conditions.

In a welcome reversal of recent oppressive heat and humidity, Mother Nature gave the state’s best amateurs a break with cloudy skies, moderate temperatures in the high 70s to mid-80s and a pleasant and playable easterly breeze.

With one-half of the field finished with the first round, Sam Stevens of Wichita is at the top of the leaderboard with a bogey-free round of six-under par 65 on the par 71 Wichita Country Club course that was set up to play to an overall length of 6700 yards.  Stevens is on a mission this year to jump into the winner’s circle after finishing as runner-up in both 2013 and 2014.  He has a big advantage this year having honed his skills with years of daily play and practice at Wichita Country Club as a junior golfer.  The familiarity was obvious as Steven birdied his first hole, the par 4 #10 hole, and then carded two more birdies at #13 and #14 to get to three-under par after only five holes.  He performed equally well on the front side with a birdie at #1 and then two birdies on the par five holes.

Medalist honors may be up for grabs on Wednesday.  Six players from the morning wave are only two strokes behind Stevens.  At four-under par 67 are Travis Mays of Overland Park, Craig Howell of Wichita, KU’s #1 golfer and 2013 Kansas Amateur Champion Chase Hanna of Leawood, Garden City dentist and former High Plains Amateur champion Grant Vollertsen, K-State golfer Matt Green from Lenexa, and Wichitan Max Lazzo.

Howell, a Flint Hills National member, had the kind of round that would have been unbeatable in match play.  His eight birdies, including ones at #17 and #18 would dispatch most any opponent.

Leading a group of four golfers at two-under par 69 is Conrad Roberts of Lawrence.  The former KU golfer and KGA champion is a consistent competitor in the Kansas Amateur as a veteran mid-amateur.  Others at 69 are future Missouri golfer Preston Fleenor of Mission Hills, K-State golfer Henry Simpson also of Mission Hills, and Alex Springer from Olathe.

The 2015 Kansas Amateur Stroke Play champion Jack Courington of Wichita cruised to a one-under par 70.  He won his second Railer title last month at Sand Creek Station and he is anxious to test his skills in this week’s match play championship.  Washburn golfer Ronnie McHenry of Topeka, Wellington Golf Club manager Derek Harrison and Charlie Reinhart of Kansas City also carded the one-under par 70 total.

The most popular number of the morning was even-par 71.  Twelve golfers, including defending champion and 2014 KGA Player-of-the-Year Bryan Norton of Mission Hills, positioned themselves comfortably into contention to make the match play bracket of 64.

The afternoon wave is currently on the golf course now under light rain but calm conditions.  An approaching cell may cause a suspension of play yet this afternoon.  If there is no suspension of play due to lightning, play is scheduled to conclude at 7:30 p.m. today.

 

Lightning Delays Afternoon Play at the Kansas Amateur

The afternoon wave got the worst circumstances on day one of the Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship at Wichita Country Club.  One hour after the final groups had started play, lightning was showing up to the west of the golf course and it was close enough that play had to be suspended.  The suspension lasted for one hour and forty five minutes.  The resumption took place while a light shower was dissipating but a later shower made for difficult play.  With the eventual darkness setting in at 9:00 p.m. there were several groups on the golf course.  Those players will finish their first round Wednesday morning at 7:30.

Of those players that were lucky enough to finish there were several impressive rounds.  Zac Burton of Manhattan, the 2014 KGA Mid-Am Player-of-the-Year, shot two-over par 73 highlighted by an ace on the par three #17 hole.  Jeff Bell of Wichita posted a two-under par 69 with three birdies on the back nine.  Blake Allen of Lenexa birdied #18 to get to red numbers at one-under par 70.  Trevor Tannahill of Overland Park and Chase Lucas of Mission Hills posted solid rounds of even-par 71.

Approximately 68 players have scores of 75 or better with 15 players still to finish the first round of stroke play qualifying for the match play bracket.  The “cut number” appears to be around 148 or 149 for tomorrow’s play-off for the final match play bracket seeds.

 

Stroke Play Wraps Up

A kinder, gentler Mother Nature greeted the morning half of the field on Wednesday.  15 players finished their first round with a 7:30 a.m. resumption of play and then got their place in line for the second round.  Perhaps with some of their equipment and outerwear still needing time to dry out from the Tuesday afternoon soaking, most players took advantage of the cool, calm and soft conditions to improve on their scores from the first round.

Jeff Bell “rang up” a great round of three-under par 68 despite a bogey on his final hole, the par five #9 hole.   Any player that can make six birdies over 18 holes like Bell did today will be a serious threat in match play.   Young Benjamin Hargrave of Salina made five birdies to card a solid one-under par 70 putting him at even par 142 and easily into the match play bracket.  He will have to wait until after the afternoon wave finishes to see what his seed will be.

Other under-par rounds were returned by mid-amateur Trent Brown of Andover at one-under par 70.  His two-over par 144 total will earn him an opponent for the start of match play tomorrow.  Brown made two birdies in his last three holes, so his opponent tomorrow should not feel comfortable with a late lead.  Treg Fawl of McPherson made four birdies and finished at two-under par 69.  His total of 145 will also safely put him into the match play bracket.

Junior golfer Blake Allen of Lenexa, fresh from last week’s success at the KJGA Junior Section Team Championship in Winfield, struggled a bit with a second round four-over par 75 but his great first round put him at three-over par 145 and also easily in the Thursday field after today’s cut to the low 64.   Zac Burton shot another 73, but without another ace, to finish at four-over par 146.  With his competitive nature, he will be a dangerous opponent for the top half of the bracket.

With the early projection of 148 as the “cut number” by 7:30 p.m. tonight, when all players have concluded the second round of stroke play qualifying, 13 players from the morning wave appear to be destined for a first round match tomorrow.  A handful of players at 149 and above are hoping for some help from Mother Nature to boost scores of the afternoon wave.

Stevens Sends a Message with Medalist Performance

After two consecutive years with a runner-up finish in the Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship, Sam Stevens has let it be known loud and clear that he intends to finish on top this year.  Stevens toured his “boyhood” home course at Wichita Country Club in 10-under par 131 to claim the #1 seed by four strokes over two others.  Stevens, a sophomore-to-be on the prestigious Oklahoma State Cowboys golf team, was impressive the last two days with long drives, crisp wedges and accurate putting.  He did not made a bogey in 36 holes of stroke play, posting the low round of the event on Tuesday (65) and tying for low round for today (66).

At the conclusion of a sudden-death play-off involving nine players for the last two seeds, it was determined that Wichita Country Club member and KGA director Pete Krsnich will face Stevens as the #64 seed.  Krsnich lives next door to the club so he will have no difficulty making his 7:30 a.m. match against Stevens.  The two obviously know each other very well.  It could prove to be the most difficult opponent Stevens will face in his quarter of the bracket.  Krsnich also knows what it feels like to finish as runner-up in the Kansas Amateur.  Kevin Ward, his KU teammate, prevailed over Krsnich at Shadow Glen GC in 2004.

The #2 and #3 seeds were awarded to Conrad Roberts of Lawrence and Matt Green of Lenexa.  Roberts is a former KU golfer who works for the University in its book publishing office and Green is a current member of the K-State golf team.  Roberts also shot five-under par 66 on Wednesday.  Both have competitive experience at high levels and they too will present a difficult challenge for any opponent in the match play format set to begin at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Four players posted a 36-hole total of four-under par 137.  Jack Courington had the low round of the day in that group with a four-under par 67.  The others at 137 are Jeff Bell, Chase Hanna (the 2013 Kansas Amateur champion) and Travis Mays.

Defending champion Bryan Norton of Mission Hills will get a chance to defend his title and win a fourth career Kansas Amateur.  He shot two-under par 140 for two days and has the #13 seed and will face Nick Long of Pittsburg, KS in the first round.

Chase Hanna, the 2013 Kansas Amateur champion will take his #6 seed against Jared Burns of Wichita.

Other interesting first round match ups include the following:

Jonathan May of Wichita, the 2002 Kansas Amateur runner-up (to Bryan Norton at Tallgrass) at #24 will take on the oldest player in the field, Don Kuehn of Kansas City, the #41 seed.

Tracy Chamberlin (#30) and Steve Groom (#35) will battle it out in a match of two senior golfers each with several KGA championships on their respective resumes.

KGA Director of Member Services and Junior Golf Tyler Cummins earned the #27 seed and will play one of his former junior golf stars in Caleb Haight of Wichita , the #38 seed).  The winner of that match could likely have the task of facing Chase Hanna.

Sion Audrain of Garden City, one of the youngest players in the field at age 14,is the #49 seed will take on K-State golfer Henry Simpson of Mission Hills who is the #16 seed.

Only one round of matches is scheduled for Thursday, tee off from 7:30 a.m. through 12:40 p.m.  The round of 16 matches will be played Friday morning followed by 8 matches that afternoon.  The quarterfinals will be played Saturday morning and the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.  The 36-hole final match will be played on Sunday.   All matches are open to the public and spectators are welcome.   Match results can be viewed at www.kansasgolf.org.

 

Stevens Avoids the 64th Seed Jinx for Win over Krsnich

Stroke play medalist Sam Stevens began his Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship quest at 7:30 this morning at Wichita Country Club against Pete Krsnich under ideal weather conditions.  A small group of fellow members showed up to wish both contestants well.  After the first hole, Stevens had a 1 up advantage with a par, but Krsnich came back with consecutive birdies at #4 and #5 to square the match.   Stevens took control for good at the par three #8 hole.  From 215 yards he put his tee shot to within a few feet of the hole and made the putt for birdie.    Krsnich took two more hard blows to the body when Stevens birdied #10 and #11 to go 3 up.   After halving #12 with pars, Krsnich had a brief moment of celebration at the par four #13 hole when he put his 156 yard shot into the hole for an eagle.  Stevens was 2 up with five holes to play and was able to close out the match on #16 with his sixth birdie of the match and a 3&2 win.   Stevens will be hard to beat if he continues to make an average of one birdie for every 3 holes and he is yet to make a bogey in three rounds.   His second round opponent will be Ben Maskus of Shawnee, the #32 seed.   Stevens ended up having a post round lunch with Maskus just to get to know him.  What a great sportsman!

The other 31 opening round matches played out generally as the seeding would predict with a few exceptions.

#60 seed Andy King of Junction City took out Jack Courington who had the #5 seed.  King managed to birdie two holes on the front nine to halve those holes with Courington, otherwise it would have gotten out of control.  Then Courington bogeyed both #10 and #11 to give King a 3 up advantage and the win after a “close-out” birdie on the par five #16 hole.  King will take on Southern Mississippi golfer Ryan Argotsinger of Lee’s Summit, Missouri who has been a quarterfinalist the last two years.

Texan and K-State freshman Ben Fernandez, the #57 seed surprised #8 seed Cameron Wiltse of Overland Park with a 1 up win.  He birdied #18.

Missouri freshman-to-be Preston Fleenor of Mission Hills, the #15 seed, was planted by Colby Yates, the #50 seed, 2 up.  Actually, Yates may surprise several more opponents.  He was a semifinalist in the 2013 Kansas Amateur at Indian Hills losing to eventual winner Chase Hanna.

Tyler Chapman of Wichita, the #47 seed, birdied the final hole to take a 1 up win over #18 seed Kade Brown of Oberlin.   Sam Wempe of Meriden, the #51 seed, was able to prevail over #14 seed Derek Harrison with an impressive 4&2 win.

14-year old Sion Audrain of Garden City took on K-State golfer Henry Simpson.  The youngster gave a great effort by taking an early lead after three holes, lost the lead to go down 2 holes at the turn, and then managed to square the match through 13 holes.  Then Simpson showed him how to make three birdies in a row and end the lesson on #16 with a 3&2 win.   Look for that name again in future championships!

#29 seed Andrew Beckler, a K-State freshman-to-be, ran off an amazing five consecutive birdies on holes #11 through #15 to take a 4&3 win over Treg Fawl, the #36 seed from McPherson.

Defending champion Bryan Norton looked a little frustrated after nine holes with his match with Nick Long, the #52 seed.  He was all square having played the first nine hole one-under par.  But birdies and #14 and #15 gave him a 4&3 win to advance to a second round match against Bradley Lane who needed 19 holes to secure a win over Chris McGown.

Jonathan May of Wichita, a former Kansas Amateur runner-up, got his first round win over senior veteran performer Don Kuehn, 3&2.

#2 seed Conrad Roberts advance with a 3&2 win over Andrew Manley and will face junior golfer Cole Dillon in the second round.   The #3 seed Matt Green also advanced with a convincing 5&3 win over Jack Rickabaugh of Garnett.

Only two matches went extra holes on Thursday.  The longest was a 22 hole match won by Alex Higgs, a SMU golfer from Overland Park.  Higgs eagled the par five #4 hole to take the win overTurner Wintz of Hutchinson.

Friday promises to be a day of true survival for the remaining 32 players.  There will be two rounds of matches contested with forecasted temperatures above 100 degrees and not much wind.

 

Sam Stevens Cruises to 6&5 Win in Second Round; Roberts Falls

Sam Stevens only needed 13 holes this morning to advance to this afternoon’s round of 16 by defeating Ben Maskus, 6&5.  After only four holes Stevens had 3 pars and 1 birdie and a comfortable lead of 3 up.   He lost his first hole in match play on the par 3 #8 hole when Maskus birdied.  Stevens also made his first bogey of the championship on #10, but it was good enough for a halve.  Stevens then made three more pars and the match was over.  He will enjoy a two hour lunch break before taking on Spencer Christian in the afternoon for the third round.  Christian, a Wichita CC member, eliminated Henry Simpson 3&2.   Stevens and Christian play together often, so perhaps the underdog Christian might know some weakness to exploit.

Washburn golfer Ronnie McHenry from Topeka birdied two of the first four holes in his match with Ben Fernandez and amassed a 4 up lead from which the K-State freshman from Dallas was never able to recover.  The final result was 5&4.  McHenry meets his next opponent at 12:40 p.m. in Alex Springer from Olathe.  Jonathan May spotted Springer the first 3 holes with bogeys and could never recover.

Future K-State golfer Andrew Beckler of Topeka took advantage of early bogeys by #4 seed Jeff Bell to build a 3 hole lead through four holes and then birdied holes #7 and #8 to get his lead to 4 holes.  Then it was just a matter of time before the 6&5 result would be posted.   Beckler may have gotten even more excited when he saw the result of the Norton v. Lane match.  Defending champion Bryan Norton found himself 3 down after nine holes having played the outward nine 1-over par.  Bradley Lane, the #20 seed and a former Rice University golfer, recently moved to Kansas from New Mexico and has quickly established himself as a top tier mid-amateur in Kansas.   But Norton would not go down without a fight.  He managed to get the match back to all square after 14 holes when Lane carded two bogeys.  After halving #15 with pars, Norton saw his title defense evaporate under the heat of consecutive birdies by Lane at #16 and #17.    Norton can now rest before heading out to the US Amateur, US Mid-Amateur and US Senior Amateur all of which he is an exempt entrant based on this runner-up finish last year in the US Senior Amateur.

The match between #28 seed Ryan Argotsinger and #60 seed Andrew King was a birdie fest.  Argotsinger built a 1 up lead with five birdies over the first nine holes and King stayed close with four birdies of his own.  But Argotsinger took advantage of some King mistakes on the back nine and built a 3 up lead through #15.  King got one last moment of confidence with a great eagle on the par five #16 hole, but Argotsinger closed him out with a halved bogey at #17.    Argotsinger will duel with Benjamin Hargrave from Salina in the third round.  Hargrave, the 21st seed, continued his steady game by defeating #12 seed Gage Ihrig 2&1.

The big upset of the second round was posted by junior golfer Cole Dillon of Manhattan.  As the #34 seed he became a “giant killer” by taking down the #2 seed Conrad Roberts 2&1.   By finishing the front nine all square with Roberts, Dillon was able to find a way to win by making a string of 8 pars on the back nine letting Roberts mistakes propel him to the third round.   Dillon will next play Tyler Chapman, the #47 seed who managed a 3&1 win over Colby Yates.

Travis Mays might have an energy advantage over Max Lazzo this afternoon.  Mays only needed 14 holes to defeat Charlie Rinehart of Kansas City, Kansas while Lazzo needed 19 holes to dispatch Alex Higgs.  But, Lazzo is a Wichita CC member and his local knowledge should serve him well.

#3 seed Matt Green, another K-State golfer in the match play bracket, made four birdies on the front nine of his match with veteran senior golfer Steve Groom of Raytown, Missouri.  But he was only 2 up.  Three more birdies on the back nine gave him a tough 2&1 win.  Green’s third round opponent will be Sam Wempe of Meriden.  He posted a 1 up win over Grant Vollertsen with a timely birdie on #17 and a halving par at the last hole.

2013 champion Chase Hanna is lurking in Steven’s shadow with a goal of reaching the finals for a rematch of the 2013 finals.  Hanna, the #6 seed, won a hard fought 3&2 match against Caleb Haight of Wichita by posting an eagle 3 on the #16 hole.  Hanna’s third round opponent will be KU freshman-to-be Andrew Spencer from Prairie Village who needed 20 holes to defeated long-hitting Wichitan Craig Howell.  No doubt the KU junior will have some pointers for the KU newcomer.

Afternoon Wichita temperatures will seer into the 100 plus range making for difficult conditions for players, caddies and spectators.


Top Seeds Advance – Barely!

Christian Spencer knows Wichita Country Club pretty well too.  He grew up there just like Sam Stevens and it is still his home golf course.  Those two squared off Friday afternoon in the July heat and played a match good enough for TV.

Stevens lost his first hole of the match play portion of the championship on the 2nd hole when Christian hole a putt for birdie.  The 1 up advantage went away on the 3rd hole when Stevens parred and Christian did not.  Both long-hitters handled the 508-yard par five 4th hole with birdies.  Stevens took his first lead in the match at #5 with a birdie, followed that with another win at #6 with a bogey, and then won a third consecutive hole with a birdie at the par four 7th hole.   Rather than roll over to the 3 up lead, Christian took back a hole at #8 with a par after a rare mistake by Stevens.   Stevens was 2 up at the turn after both players parred #9.

At #13 Christian got another one back with a birdie and the Stevens lead was now down to just 1 up.   With the tees moved back to the tips today on #15, Christian still made another birdie while Steven could only manage a par.  So, after 15 holes the match was all square and Christian was feeling like he could win.

A south wind finally appeared at Wichita Country Club Friday afternoon and Christian took advantage to play the 550-yard par five #16 hole for another birdie and regain a 1 up advantage over Stevens.  With only two holes remaining the word quickly spread that Stevens was in trouble.  A group of two dozen spectators appeared from the clubhouse.   Hitting first at the par three #17 hole Christian covered the flagstick but came to rest some 20 feet above the hole.  Stevens rose to the occasion with a similar on line tee shot, but his stopped only five feet above the hole.  Christian’s birdie putt grazed the edge of the hole, but Stevens roll was right in the center.  The two walked over to the 18th tee all square.

Both golfers found the 18th fairway with their drives from the “modified” tee.  The KGA had placed the markers on the front of the #2 tee adding about 30 yards to the uphill, into the wind final hole.  Both approach shots were well left of the hole with Stevens away.  His birdie attempt came up short and Christian’s attempt for the upset came up short by only inches.  So, extra holes would determine the winner.

Returning to the #1 hole, now with an even large group of spectators, both found the fairway off the tee.  Stevens hit first to the right of the hole leaving himself a 10-foot birdie putt.  Christian’s approach was the right distance but it caught the slope that runs through the middle of the green and the ball rolled away from the hole.  Christian knew he need to make his birdie because Stevens would probably make his.  He was correct.   Christian putt was six inches short of going in and Stevens putt was dead on.   Count that as a win for Stevens.

There will be no let up for Stevens in the quarterfinals on Saturday morning.  He will face Washburn University star golfer Ronnie McHenry to cruised past Alex Springer 3&1.  McHenry may match Stevens in distance off the tee, reducing their match to a wedge and putting contest.

Bradley Lane, the KU political science professor, is proving to be the championship’s “seed planter”.  He sent defending champion Bryan Norton home in the morning second round and then turned around this afternoon and played 22 holes to take out junior standout Andrew Beckler.   Lane will meet Benjamin Hargrave in another quarterfinal match.   Hargrave needed extra holes also to post a big win over Ryan Argotsinger.  Hargarve displayed some 18th hole heroics to get his match to extra holes.  With Argotsinger within very makeable birdie range, Hargrave lofted a wedge shot from right of the green and watched it trickle down a slope to strike the flagstick and deflect into the hole for birdie.  Argotsinger missed his birdie which would have halved the hole for the win.

Wichita mid-amateur Tyler Chapman advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4&3 win over Cole Dillon ending the youngsters fine performance.  He will join some other Kansas junior standouts next month for a trip to Nebraska for the annual Junior Cup Matches.  Chapman will face Max Lazzo, another Wichita CC member.  Lazzo was down to Travis Mays most of the match but managed to get back to all square with a birdie at #12 and then won both #15 and #16 to take the 2&1 win.

Matt Green, K-State’s #1 player, had an easy time of it against Sam Wempe.  The 5&4 win included a rare eagle on the par five #9 hole, which put him 3 up at the turn.   Green, the best remaining seed on the right side of the bracket will take on KU’s #1 player Chase Hanna, who prevailed over Shawnee Mission East senior Andy Spencer with a 2 up win.  Spencer was 4 up on Hanna after 5 holes having played those holes 5-under par including an eagle on the par five 4th hole.  But Hanna chipped away at the lead to eventually square the match on #11.   Hanna’s birdie on #13 followed by an eagle on the drivable par 4 #15 hole put him 2 up to stay despite a game challenge from the high schooler.

Saturday morning will feature the four quarterfinal matches followed by the two semifinal matches in the afternoon.  The forecast calls for another sunny day with temperatures above 100 degrees in the afternoon.

 

Kansas Amateur Semifinal Matches Set After Exciting Morning

At this point in the championship, seeds don’t really matter anymore.  All eight remaining players are good enough to win this grueling test of golf.  But only four remain after this morning’s quarterfinals on a day perfect for scoring.

 

Stevens Battles through another Close Match

Sam Stevens knows that he will have to play his best after the 19 hole scare he got from Spencer Christian yesterday afternoon.  Ronnie McHenry has become quite comfortable with the Wichita Country Club layout and the putting greens particularly suit his deft touch.

There was no blood drawn until the third hole when McHenry made his first of several birdies.  But Stevens displayed his length and accuracy on the par five #4 hole by hitting a mid-iron from the middle of the fairway to six feet from the hole giving him an easy putt for eagle to get back to all square.  Two holes later McHenry again showed his putting skill and got back on top with his second birdie of the match.   Like a great title fight, Stevens birdied #7 and parred #8 to give himself a 1 up advantage, his first lead of the match.  After eight holes, five holes had been won.    As you might expect, McHenry countered with his third birdie of the match on the par five #9 hole to get the match back to all square.  That was nine holes played with six holes won and just three holes halved.

The second nine was much different, but not for lack of trying.  #10 was halved with birdies and the next two holes were halved with pars.  McHenry made his second bogey of the match at #13 by missing a short putt giving Stevens the 1 up advantage.  But McHenry went back to his putting skills on #14 by making an uphill 15-footer for a birdie that put the match back to all square.

Holes 15, 16 and 17 were halved with pars setting up an exciting finish on #18.  McHenry drove to the middle of the fairway while Stevens found the left rough but with an open shot.  McHenry pulled his long iron second shot to the left rough while Stevens pushed his iron shot to the right fringe but close enough to putt.  Stevens played first to about 18 inches putting the pressure on McHenry.  His lob pitch from the rough had no spin and the ball raced past the hole leaving him a difficult right to left par saving putt.  It was not to be.  McHenry missed and Stevens easily made the match winning par putt.

 

Bradley Lane Paves the Road to a Win Over Hargrave

Relying on pars and three birdies over 18 holes Bradley Lane posted a hard fought win over Benjamin Hargrave in the second quarterfinal match.   The biggest lead either golfer had was 1 up until the final hole when neither player could reach the putting green in regulation.  It became a battle of wedges and potential par saving putts.  Lane had a timely birdie at #16 to take the 1 up lead so the pressure was on Hargrave to with #18 and send the match to extra holes.   Lane played his 70-yard wedge shot first and his ball stopped 4 feet below the hole.  Hargrave faced the shot of the championship for him.  His 40-yard wedged need to get in or close to the hole.  A low, spinning shot stopped outside of Lane’s ball.  He now needed a make and a Lane miss to survive.  The final putt was wide right and Hargrave conceded the par to Lane for a 2 up win.

Lane will now face medalist Sam Stevens in the 12:30 p.m. semifinal match.

 

Home Course Friendly to Lazzo

Former Washburn University golfer and Wichita CC member Max Lazzo knows his way around this golf course.  Taking on mid-amateur Tyler Chapman from Wichita, Lazzo made back-to-back birdies at #3 and #4 to take a 1 up lead.  He gave it back to Chapman on #5 because of his first of only two bogeys on the day.  Another birdie at #9 put him back on top to stay.  The next six holes were halved and then Lazzo closed the deal with a birdie on #16 and a par win on #17 making for a 3&1 difference.

 

Matt Green Keeps Rolling with Win over Hanna

K-Stater Matt Green enjoyed the opportunity to play KU’s Chase Hanna.  Green birdied the first hole and never looked back, building a 3 up advantage after just four holes.  Hanna won the 5th hole with a par to get within 2 holes.  But then an eagle 3 on #9 restored the 3 up lead for Green.  Three more birdies on the final seven holes of the match was just too much for Hanna to overcome.  The final margin in Green’s favor was 4&2, sending the #3 seed into the semifinals against Max Lazzo.

 

Stevens and Green to Meet in Kansas Amateur Finals

It will be #1 against #3 in the finals of the Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship at Wichita Country Club.  “Championship Sunday” will feature Sam Stevens and Matt Green.  On many levels it is an intriguing match up.  Both are collegians (Stevens is a sophomore at powerhouse Oklahoma State and Green is the top player at Kansas State);  both hit massive drives, know how to scramble and have outstanding short games; both make a birdie once every three or four holes and eagles are always possible on the par fives.  In short, it will be a very competitive 36 hole final tomorrow.

At Monday night’s KGA Champions Dinner, Stevens jokingly told the crowd that after having finished runner-up the last two years that “another runner-up finish, making it three in a row, would be a pretty good accomplishment!”   No doubt it has been his goal for the last 364 days to win his first Kansas Amateur title, which would be particularly special were he to do it on his boyhood course.

Matt Green will definitely be a huge roadblock for Stevens.  Even after scares from the likes of Pete Krsnich and Spencer Christian during earlier matches, Stevens will face his most difficult match against Green.  Based on the number of birdies made over the last two days, Green would be a handicapper’s favorite.

The final match will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the afternoon 18 holes will begin at 12:30 p.m.  Spectators are welcome and there is no admission charge.

 

Stevens Stops Lane’s Ride

Bradley Lane fought off a tough challenge in the morning quarterfinals that lasted 18 holes but he appeared ready for an even bigger challenge in the semifinals against #1 seed Sam Stevens.  He birdied the first hole – but so did Stevens.  He held his own with pars on the next two holes and then the “Stevens straight” got played.  Lane lost #4 failing to get up and down from the greenside bunker.  Lane lost #5 largely because he caught a tree off the tee spotting Stevens 100 yards on the approach.  Lane lost #6 because of another bogey.  On #7 Stevens made a downhill 30-footer for birdie, maybe his longest made putt of the tournament, and Lane could not make his 10-footer for birdie and the halve.   Lane got one back on the par 3 #8 hole because of a rare Stevens bogey.  On #10 Stevens made another 30-footer for birdie, this time uphill to go back to 4 up.   After Lane found the water hazard on his tee shot on #11, the margin was 5 holes and it was just a matter of time before the 5&4 final score was posted.

 

Green’s Birdie Barrage Takes Out Lazzo

Matt Green may not call Wichita Country Club his home course, but based on the way he has scored this week, he no doubt feels right at home.  Max Lazzo does call the club his home course and after today’s semifinals he is probably ready for the K-Stater to go back to Manhattan.

Green started his birdie run at the par three #3 hole, then added another at the reachable par five #4 to get to a 2 up advantage.  An up and down par was good enough at #5 to win another hole.  His next two birdies, at #7 and #9, were only good for a halve, but that was four-under par on the front nine.  A par on #10 and a birdie on the shortened par three #11 hole were both wins giving Green a 5 up margin after 11 holes.   The match ended after the 13th hole with a margin of 6&5.  Rried

An appearance in the Kansas Amateur finals three years in a row is a great accomplishment for any Kansas amateur golfer.  Sam Stevens adds his name to a list along with some great names like Frank Rose, Clay Devers and Matt Gogel.  Devers is the only one to win every time.  No one has ever. carried away the runner-up trophy all three times.

 

Sam Stevens Moves Into the Winner’s Circle

After two consecutive heart-breaking losses in the Kansas Amateur Match Play finals, Sam Stevens prepared his game, his strategy and his mind for a championship this year at his boyhood golf course, Wichita Country Club.  On Sunday his golf skills and mental toughness propelled him to his first Kansas Amateur championship title in an unbelievably competitive see-saw battle with Matt Green, a collegian of impressive talent as a Kansas State junior.

Stevens, an Oklahoma State sophomore, began the week-long championship with “statement” rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, the stroke play days.  His 11-under par total of 131 gave him the #1 seed as the medalist, four strokes better than two others at 135, one of whom was Matt Green.  The only reason Green was the #3 seed was that #2 went to Conrad Roberts based on his earlier finish.  Both Stevens and Green marched through the match play bracket knowing that the two Big 12 Conference golfers could meet in the finals.  Stevens had his toughest early matches against other Wichita Country Club members in Pete Krsnich and Christian Spencer.  Green had to take out another Wichita CC member in Max Lazzo in the semifinals.  After five match wins the hole-by-hole review of the two finalists showed that both Stevens and Green could make a lot of birdies, maybe an eagle or two, and that the finals could be very exciting.  They did not disappoint.

Both players birdied the opening hole for a halve and those few spectators arriving for the 7:30 a.m. start knew they were about to witness a classic battle.

Stevens drew “first blood” with a birdie on the par five #4 hole because Green’s errant drive found the base of a tree that required him to punch out using a left-handed stroke with an inverted wedge.  They played “defense” with each other over the next four holes and stood on the 8th tee with Stevens still 1 up.  The 8th hole was a rarity in the match – a halve with bogeys – when both players hit their tee shots over the green and Green made a bogey-saving 15-footer.

Stevens doubled his lead to 2 up on the 9th hole by getting onto the putting surface after two big shots.  His 12 foot, downhill eagle putt won the hole over Green’s easy birdie.

For the next seven holes on the back nine the two again matched each other blow for blow.  #12 was halved with birdies, the second such time in the match, and amazingly the 15th hole was halved with eagles!  Realistically, the 15th hole played like a long par three with the tees intentionally set at 255 yards.  Normally, the hole plays from 393 yards.  Both players found the putting green surface with their tee shots and were able to make 15 to 20 foot putts.

#16 was halved with birdies which was the third time for that feat.

On #17, a picturesque par three with water surrounding most of the putting green, Stevens made a his second bogey of the round (but his last one of the day!) and lost his first hole of the day to Green.  The duo walked over to the 18th tee with Stevens holding a slim 1 up advantage.  As to par Stevens was 6-under par and Green was 5-under par.  The final hole of the morning round was halved with pars even though both golfers had birdie tries from less than ten feet.

After the 90 minute lunch break, the match resumed at the #1 tee.  A much larger crowd had assembled to watch what would prove to be the best display of championship golf in a Kansas Amateur final in the last 20 years.   The character of the match was about to change from a “cautious” bob-and-weave early round fight to a full-blown battle of bombs from the tee to sabre-like slashes through turf.

After halving the first three holes with pars, the two again halved another hole with birdies at the 4th hole – now having done that four times.  At #5, Green made his move from a shortened tee on the par four and using the honor he drove straight for the putting green on the dogleg left hole.  His drive landed on the putting green and rolled to the back fringe.  Stevens played it safe down the fairway where he would have a wedge to the back right hole location.  Stevens safe approach was not good enough to counter the easy birdie to come from Green.  Now after 23 holes the match was all square.

#6 was halved with pars and then the winning volleys began:

 

  • Stevens won #7 with a birdie three from 15 feet to go 1 up.
  • Green won #9 with a birdie four after Stevens missed the green in two and was unable to get up and down, with the match now back to all square.
  • Green won #10 with a birdie from about one foot, taking a 1 up lead over Stevens – his first lead of the match.
  • Stevens won #11 with a par when Green misjudged the distance and wind to the par three and his tee shot found the water hazard, putting the match back to all square.
  • Green won #12 by launching a drive over a row of trees on a line straight to the putting green.  The blow measured 375 yards at the point it came to rest on the putting green from which a two-putt birdie followed and a return to Green’s 1 up lead.
  • Stevens won #13 with another par after Green put his ball into the left lateral water hazard off the tee.  To his credit, Green missed his par putt leaving it on the lip of the hole.  The match was all square again.
  • Green won #14 by bombing another drive to within 60 yards of the putting green, meaning the drive was 333 yards into a slight breeze.  His wedge approach stopped less than two feet from the hole.  Green’s 1 up lead was restored and only four holes remained.
  • Stevens won #15 by sinking a swift, downhill 15 foot putt.  Match all square again!
  • Stevens won #16 with a conceded eagle after Green’s second shot approach was too far left and it got the upper lip of the greenside bunker.  The bunker shot came out hot and Green was unable to make what would have been a miracle birdie.  Stevens now had a 1 up lead, something he had not had for 10 holes.

 

Eight consecutive holes saw the match status change.  The tension in the obvious Stevens-favorite crowd wasn’t felt by the object of their interest.  Stevens walked to the 17th tee confidently to find the tee markers moved to a “finesse” distance of 128 yards to a tight, left hole location.  Both players found the putting surface for potential birdies, but neither could convert.

So, just as it was a few hours before, the two worthy opponents journeyed to the 18th tee with Stevens possessing a 1 up advantage, but this time Green would need a win to extend the match into extra holes.  Driving first, Stevens let his ball leak a little to the right but the ball found a playable open spot in the rough about 190 yards from the hole.  Green made another one of his now familiar monstrous swings and sent his ball on a fairway “fly-over” for a text book landing in the left side of the fairway for a perfect angle to the right side hole location.   Stevens played to the green first and possessed of extreme confidence he willed his ball to the putting green leaving himself an slightly uphill, straight putt from 18 feet.   Green’s approach was equally bold and right at the hole.  It came up a little shorter than intended, leaving Green a birdie putt of 20 feet.  Putting first and knowing he needed to make the putt, Green send his final hope on its way.   It missed, but a par four was on the card.

Sam Stevens was about to finish play of his 152nd hole in six consecutive days at Wichita Country Club.  He had a championship winning putt, in fact, two-putt, that he had probably made hundreds of times before.  Without hesitation Stevens assessed the line, set up to the ball and smoothly putted it on its way to the hole.  It stopped an inch or so short of the hole as if to proclaim “1 up is just as good as 2 up”!

At the awards presentation Sam Stevens explained that he felt no pressure in today’s final match.  As he said, “I could win and become the fourth member of my family to claim this title, or I could lose and set a record as the first to be runner-up three years in a row!”

Congratulations to both Sam and Matt.  For those fortunate enough to witness the 105th Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship finals, they know they witnessed an outstanding display of young talent with skills destined to serve them both well as they continue to seek more championship titles.

A special thanks from the KGA to the staff and members of Wichita Country Club for hosting this year’s championship.  The golf course was superb and the hospitality was most gracious and welcoming.  Wichita Country Club was one of six founding clubs in 1908 and it continues to be a leader in its support of amateur golf in Kansas.