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Kansas Golf Associaition

Kansas Golfer Online - June 2017

June is “championship month” in America.   From a major to the local member-guest, the world’s best and high handicappers alike sharpen the pencil and go for the glory.   Erin Hills gave us a wonderful U.S. Open that was fan friendly, interesting to watch on television and filled with some popular stars and some names that will now become even more popular.   The KGA conducted five championships in June for avid Kansas amateur golfers of all age groups.   Read here about our June champions and look for the link to the photo gallery for each event.


Jared Helin was Right at Home Securing Konza Prairie Win
Tracy Chamberlin Coasts to Senior title

ResultsPhoto Gallery

The third Konza Prairie Amateur was played in early June at Colbert Hills in Manhattan.   This annual event allows those brave enough to take on this “big” golf course the opportunity to play the exciting Modified Chapman format where a minus score is bad and the plus score is needed to win.   Make a par and the player gets zero points.   Make a birdie and three points are added to your score.   But make a bogey and there is only a subtraction of one point.   So, the incentive is there to be aggressive.   But with high wind swept vistas, rolling hills and large putting greens with their own unfriendly slopes, the golfer not on his best game will return a scorecard with bloody red numbers.

Perhaps it was not fair to have Jared Helin in the Konza Prairie starting field.  After all, as the Kansas State assistant women’s golf coach, Helin knew the ups and downs of Colbert Hills better than any other competitor from his hundreds of rounds there.  The first Konza Prairie Amateur winner was Trent Evans, then a member of the Kansas State men’s golf team.    Local knowledge is vital for success on this course set into the beautiful Flint Hills.

Helin posted an opening round score of only one-under par.   That 71 however translated in 12 Stableford points.  His six birdies were worth 18 points, but his three bogeys and one double bogey only subtracted 6 points.   Interestingly enough three other players also shot a one-under par round of 71.   But their number of birdies was far fewer.  Jeff Bell, the current leader on the KGA Mid-Amateur Player-of-the-Year points list, earned 9 points for his 71.  Conrad Roberts, captain of the victorious East team in the Kanza Players Cup, only received 8 points for his under par round of 71.   Darrel Holden also played a great under par round but his 71 was also worth just 8 points.    There were only seven other players with a plus score in the opening round.   It would take basket full of birdies to catch Helin.

The drama of the second round was found in the final group with Helin and Bell.   The 3-point advantage held overnight by Helin was gone after the first nine holes.  Bell made two birdies to offset two bogeys and had a positive 4 points at the halfway point, while Helin made only one birdie that was not enough to overcome the subtraction made with a double bogey and two bogeys.   Helin’s minus 2 points compared to Bell’s plus 4 points was a six point turn-around putting Bell into the lead by 3 points.

Helin must have seen some message of inspiration in the team locker room as the leading group traversed to the back nine.  He birdied the 10th hole, a downhill but reachable par five.  But he still lost ground to Bell who banged home an eagle to extend his lead.

On the 11th tee, a difficult par three with several deep bunkers guarding a shallow green, Helin made another birdie to pick up 3 points on Bell.  Helin made his third consecutive birdie on #12 to pick up another 3 points on Bell.   At that point the Helin was in high gear while Bell could only be amazed at what was happening.  By the time the two had putted out on the final hole, Bell had been lapped by Helin’s seven birdies on the back nine.   With the other two holes being pars, Helin’s final nine tallled an incredible 21 points giving his a final score on the day of 19 points.   Helin shot a seven-under par 29 on the back nine.   Bell played well with a two-under par 34 and another 8 points, but it was only good enough for second place.

Helin finished the 36 holes with a record-setting  31 points.   Both prior champions won with only 4 points.  Bell’s 21 points for runner-up would have been a record.

The third place honor went to Witchayapat Sinsrang who finished with 19 points.   He earned 15 of those points on the final nine holes with five birdies and four pars.

The Konza Prairie Amateur has a second competition for older mid-amateurs and seniors.  This side of the scoreboard had only one name to watch.  Wichita’s Tracy Chamberlin, the current KGA Senior Player-of-the-Year, amassed 19 points in the first round with a five-under par 67.   He coasted to victory in the second round with another 5 points to get his record-breaking winning score of 24 points.   Michael Casamento, also from Wichita, finished a very strong runner-up with 13 points.


Roberts and Lane Are Now the Team to Beat after Kansas Four-Ball Win

Results -- Photo Gallery

Conrad Roberts
and Bradley Lane added another team trophy to their collection in early June when the two Lawrence golfers battled difficult windy conditions at Eagle Bend Golf Course to win the Kansas Four-Ball Championship.   Their bonus prize is securing the #1 seed on the KGA side of the match play bracket for the Heart of America Four-Ball to be held at Topeka Country club in early August.

Eagle Bend GC is an ideal venue for the Kansas Four-Ball.   With either tall native grasses or trees lining both sides of every hole, there is a premium for being straight off the tee.   In high wind conditions, as was the case for this year’s event, that becomes more difficult with a majority of the holes having a prevailing crosswind.    But when you have a partner backing you up, many of the teams found a way to play aggressively and post some impressive under-par scores.

In round one of the 36 hole weekend championship six teams managed to return a score in the 60s.   Every team struggled with the southerly winds gusting to 30 mph.   Roberts and Lane managed to record seven birdies between them and finished at 5-under par 67.   Sean Thayer and his young partner Connor Schultz also found a way to go low to that same 5-under par 67.  Thayer made six birdies and when he made a mistake Schultz was there to cover him with a par.  The Garden City duo probably thought the stiff wind was just a nice breeze for them.

Two teams were within striking distance after the first round.  Rounds of 4-under par 68 were posted by Manhattan golfers Brian Fehr and TJ Vilkanskas and by the young team of Perry Chong and Cole Elmore.  Fehr and Vilkanskas made five birdies while Chong and Elmore posted seven birdies.   Three teams finished at 3-under par 69, making at least seven teams within a mere two strokes of each other.  The final round had the potential for a close finish and maybe needing a sudden-death playoff to determine the winner.

Roberts and Lane opened the second round with a bogey but then kicked it into high gear.  After playing the par five #9 hole with a Roberts birdie, they were 3-under par highlighted by Lane’s hole out for eagle on the short par four sixth hole.    The back nine honors were shared as Roberts canned three consecutive birdies on holes 11, 12 and 13.   Then Lane gave the team two more birdies at holes 15 and 16, two of more difficult holes at “The Bend”.   Add it all up for an impressive 8-under par 64 and a total of 13-under par 131.

First round co-leaders Thayer and Schultz faded with a second round 2-under par 70 to finish at 137 and a tie for seventh.

Three teams tied for the runner-up spot at 134, 10-under par.   All three teams had identical 36 hole scores of 69-65—134.    No play-off is needed for second place.  The teams of Chris McGown and Jeremiah Nelson, Evan Shartzer and Micha Morris, plus Jack Lee and Davis Cooper, shared the second, third and fourth place gift certificates, but more importantly, the earned a top seed for the Heart of America Four-Ball.

The top 16 teams earned a match play bracket seeding for the Heart of American Four-Ball to be played at Topeka Country Club in August.  The KGA team to win three four-ball matches will face a rival team from the Kansas City Golf Association in the 18-hole final match.   This match play only Heart of America format was rolled out last year when the KCGA hosted the event at Milburn Country Club.   The KGA team of Connor Knabe and Ben Hernandez won the title.   Take note Mr. Roberts and Mr. Lane – Knable and Hernandez were also the last year’s Kansas Four-Ball winners.   That’s an outcome worth repeating!

The Kansas Four-Ball also featured a Masters Division.  Posting their second KGA team title in five weeks, Topekans Gary Lucas and Dave Carson posted rounds of 66 and 67 for an 11-under par total of 133.  Dane Odgen and Michael Rack had the low second round score at 7-under par 65 but they were three strokes behind with their 136 total.

Jacob Lackey Wins Boys Junior Amateur in Wire-to-Wire Finish

Megan Propeck Dominates Sadie Park Junior Girls

Results -- Photo Gallery

The KGA’s biggest junior event kicked off at Turkey Creek Golf Course in McPherson June 12-15. Winds howled early in the week leading to an average score of 81.5 for the guys and 89.1 for the girls. However, as the wind subsided scores gradually improved to 75.7 for the guys and 81 for the girls.

Leading the charge was area native and recent high school graduate Jacob Lackey.  Lackey won the 58th Kansas Junior Amateur Championship in a wire-to-wire finish over a stacked field of competitors from across the state.  In fact, he actually lives just off the 10th hole at Turkey Creek.

On the final day Lackey played in the third to last group and started the day 3 strokes off the pace.  Closing with a final round 68, his only blemish on the day came on the difficult par three 15th hole.  Down the stretch he was able to navigate the tricky 16th and 17th holes and easily reached the downwind 505 yard par five closing hole. Lackey calmly two putted to take a one shot lead and had to sit back and watch those nipping at his heels.

The final two groups had several players in contention including Taylor Larsen of Garden City, Grant Herrenbruck of Salina and Zach Sokolosky of Wichita. Larson had the best chance to take Lackey into a playoff, but an errant tee shot on the final hole resulted in a par leaving him one shot back.  Herrenbruck came within millimeters of and eagle on 18, but his chip shot from just short of the green glanced off the flagstick leaving a tap in birdie.  All three players ended the championship tied for overall runner-up with Larson and Herrenbruck taking top honors in the 17-year old division. Other age division champions include 16-year old Ryan Bender, 15-year old Davis Cooper and 14-year old Ryan Lee who all reside in Overland Park.

Played alongside the boys championship, the 7th Sadie Park Sunflower Girls Championship had a slightly   different tune.  With windy conditions for round one, the leaderboard was bunched with multiple ladies shooting mid to low 80’s.   Leawood’s  Megan Propeck took over the championship with a second round 67 and never looked back.  Her 67 tied for the low round of the championship for either gender and finished with a solid 72 to win the title by a whopping eight strokes.  Overall runner-up went to 13-year old Julia Misemer of Overland Park, while Abby Glynn, Topeka, rounded out the top three.

This was the first KGA Championship where live scoring was done by the players themselves.  It was part of the new USGA Tournament Management software the Kansas Golf Association will be featuring  in 2018 and beyond.  Overall it was a success with many positive reviews from both players and spectators on site or at home.  To be ready for next year download the USGA Tournament Management application on your smart phone or tablet.



Gage Ihrig Wins The Railer in Record-Setting Style and Salina’s Greg Goode Goes Wire-to-Wire for Senior Railer Title.

Results -- Photo Gallery

Sand Creek Station Golf Course, the municipally owned golf links in Newton, has built a reputation for a tough test of golf skills.  If the wind blows, as it typically does, scores will soar.   But if presented with calm conditions, under-par scores are within reach.   The Railer, named in recognition of the busy railroad track that runs through the golf course, is the KGA’s 54-hole stroke play championship presented jointly with the City of Newton.    The 7th annual Railer was a record-setter.

A field of 138, including 25 seniors competing in their own division, began the Friday through Sunday championship with a great day for golf and several players took advantage.

Dodge City Community College golfer Witchayapat Sinsrang shared the first round lead with Lenexa’s Christian Ghilardi.   Both posted scores of 3-under par 69.   Sinsrang had five birdies for the round with three of them coming on his last three holes, 16 through 18.  The Thailand native, known by his college teammates as “Tiger”, displayed a stalking style and a swing similar to that of the pro golfer also named Tiger.

Wichita State golfer Gage Ihrig finished the first round only one stroke behind the two leaders.   The Goodland, Kansas native made five birdies in his opening round 70 which were spoiled by a bogey and a double bogey.

Round two was the day to make a move up the leaderboard.  Pleasant temperatures and little wind made for a day of great golf.  Sinsrang  increased his lead with four birdies and an eagle on the downhill reachable par 5 #16 hole to post a 5-under par 67 and a total of 136.  He would start the final round with a four stroke advantage of Ihrig who posted another 2-under par 70.   Ghilardi faded with a 75.   The low round of the day was posted by Luke Gannon from Bel Aire.   The Wichita Heights grad now playing golf for Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley made four birdies and an eagle on the opening nine for a five-under par 31 and then added two more birdies on the back nine to finish at 6-under par 66.

The final round brought cool temperatures, a north wind and afternoon rain to add a new element of challenge for the leaders.   Realistically, the contest had become a head-to-head duel between Sinsrang and Ihrig.  As the two collegians navigated their way around the opening nine, Ihrig was making his move early.  Four consecutive birdies on holes #2 through #5 put Ihrig, now 8-under par, within one stroke of Sinsrang.   The single shot lead was maintained through the 10th hole where both leaders birdied the hole known as “the Beast”.

The tide turned for good at the short par four #11 hole.  Sinsrang played conservatively from the tee with an iron but hit his ball off line into an area where it was never found.   With that lost ball penalty, Sinsrang posted a double bogey, his first but not last miscue of the final round.   With the rain becoming colder and heavier, Ihrig kept his focus and played the last seven holes 1-under par.   While Sinsrang, the tournament leader for 46 holes, played his final seven holes 6-over par to finish at 2-under par 214.

Ihrig displayed the poise of a seasoned competitor over the final stretch.   With only two holes to play he had already reached an incredible 10-under par for the tournament.   Two closing pars safely secured the win by an 8-stroke margin over Sinsrang, and a record-setting winning score of 206, breaking the old record of 208 set by Jack Courington in 2012.

Three golfers tied for third place with the 1-under par 215 including two-time champion Courington, Gannon and Wichita junior golfer Wells Padgett.

In the Senior division, Salina’s Greg Goode was a wire-to-wire winner over the grind of 54 holes.   His even-par 216 included two under-par rounds of 70 and 71.   Don Kuehn of Kansas City finished as runner-up only two shots back at 2-over par 218, while John Bailey from Tennessee and Steve Newman of Wichita tied for third at 4-over par 220.


Gary Woodland and wife Gabby Now Have a Baby Boy

Two-time Kansas Amateur champion and current PGA Tour star Gary Woodland, who now spends much of the golf season at his home in Lawrence,  had to skip last week’s PGA Tour stop.   His wife Gabby who had been dealing with a problem pregnancy requiring bed rest, let it be known that their son was needing an earlier “tee time” than previously assigned.   At 10 weeks premature, young Jaxson Lynn Woodland was born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City on June 23rd.   Gary reports that Jaxson is now breathing on his own and he is the “biggest boy on the block” at his opening weight of three pounds.   Gabby is also doing fine and is expected to be out of hospital quickly.  Little Jaxson will need to stay there a little longer to make sure everything is stable and he’s ready to make his first trip to the golf course with Dad!   Congratulations  and best wishes from the KGA to Gary and Gabby!

Seriously, You Need to Go on a Golf Trip to Ireland in 2018!

While the KGA’s escorted golf trip to Northern Ireland is 15 months away, now is the time to make your reservation for this trip of any golfer’s lifetime.   The line-up of courses is a dream list including two rounds at Royal County Down. Look at any ranking of the world’s best golf courses, and RCD is either first or in the top three!

The trip will start on September 12, 2018 with an overnight flight to Dublin.  All ground transportation is included in the price, along with two dinners and daily breakfast.   Our group will play six rounds of golf at five different outstanding venues, including Portstewart Golf Club, Royal Portrush Golf Club, Ballyliffin Golf Club, Ardglass Golf Club and finishing it off with two rounds at Royal County Down.   There is plenty of time for sight-seeing and getting a taste and feel of the local food and customs.   Non-golfers are welcome as well.   The group will return home on September 19th.

For the complete itinerary and pricing, please contact Kim Richey at the KGA (kim@kansasgolf.org).