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Kansas Golf Associaition

Kansas Golfer Online - October 2017


2017 KGA’s Players-of-the-Year Determined after Season-Ending Events

The Kansas Golf Association is pleased to provide a lengthy and wide-ranging program of competitive golf events for Kansas golfers of all ages.   At the end of the season, there are a few golfers that stand out as the very best.   Take a bow, gentlemen!   You deserve the honor of KGA Player-of-the-Year.

In addition, please read further to see who won the KGA’s late-season championships and team events.  Click here to see the 2017 collection of photographs of KGA action.

Gage Ihrig Sets the Bar Very High

Goodland, Kansas native and current standout on the Wichita State golf team Gage Ihrig had a 2017 competitive golf season where no one else even came close in the KGA’s overall Player-of-the-Year race.   Ihrig became the first golfer to ever win both the KGA’s stroke play and match play amateur championships during a four week stretch in the middle of the summer.   In late June on a rainy and blustery day in Newton, Ihrig calmly toured the links at Sand Creek Station to post an impressive come-from-behind win over a field of fellow collegians and former champions to hold the brass locomotive trophy as The Railer champion.   The 54-hole stroke play event is the KGA’s annual contest to find the state’s individual amateur stroke play champion.    Then in late July, on a Sunday at Kansas City Country Club where an overnight storm brought down hundreds of limbs and a dozens of trees while filling bunkers with water, Ihrig took on fellow finalist Sam Stevens of Wichita in the 36 hole final.   Stevens might have been the better known of the two collegians.   The Oklahoma State golfer won the event in 2014 and was runner-up twice before in 2012 and 2013.   But Ihrig was not to be intimidated.    A 3&2 margin propelled Ihrig into the unique sweep of the KGA’s premier championships and a “no contest” points tally to eventually be named the KGA’s Player-of-the-Year for 2017.

Taylor Larsen Tops the Junior List

Garden City’s Taylor Larsen knows how to play under difficult conditions.  That’s almost a daily test at his home course, The Golf Club at Southwind.  The strong and tall lefty with his signature red locks has the skill and the talent to become a top collegian and he will have his Kansas junior golf accomplishments to bolster his resume.   He won the Kansas Junior Match Play championship at nearby Mariah Hills in Dodge City over a top field of 15 other Kansas juniors and lost in a playoff to Jacob Lackey at the Kansas Junior Amateur in June at Lackey’s home course Turkey Creek in McPherson.  Those first and second place junior finishes helped propel Larsen to the top of the state’s junior points list.

It’s a Three-Peat for Tracy Chamberlin

It was a typical golf season for Tracy Chamberlin.   Play often and play well.   The Wichita senior golfer started the season with a win in the senior division at the Konza Prairie Amateur at Colbert Hills in Manhattan.    He ended the season as a member of the victorious Kansas team at the Ozark Senior Challenge, a team event played annually against a team of top seniors from Missouri.   In between Chamberlin amassed over 400 points in 15 other starts, including a third place finish at the High Plains Amateur senior division.   The end result was the same as the last two golf seasons with Chamberlin standing at the top of the KGA’s Senior Player-of-the-Year points list.   You can bet Tracy will be going for his fourth title in 2018!

Bradley Lane is Top KGA Mid-Amateur

Bradley Lane, the KU public policy professor from Lawrence, now has his own trifecta.   In a tight race for KGA Mid-Am Player-of-the-Year honors, Lane managed to out distance two younger mid-am phenomes in Jeff Bell and Park Ulrich.  Bell was the champion in two team events; the Heart of America Four-Ball and the KGA’s Mid-Am Team while finishing runner-up at the Konza Prairie Amateur.   Ulrich won the KGA’s Mid-Amateur championship in the fall and played his way into the quarterfinals of the Kansas Amateur.   But neither could gather enough points to top Lane whose only first place finish came in the Kansas Four-Ball with partner Conrad Roberts.   Lane finish very high in a number of other important competitions, including second overall in the Midwest Cup, runner-up in the High Plains Amateur and fourth in the KGA Mid-Amateur.   That’s three consecutive KGA Mid-Amateur Player-of-the-Year honors for the professor!

Steve Sloan Achieves break-through Senior Win

Pittsburg’s Steve Sloan took on a talented field of Kansas senior golfers during the KGA’s 37th Senior Amateur Championship at Wichita Country Club in mid-August that included six former champions and emerged as the only player to finish under par.   Sloan claimed his first KGA senior title on the strength of an opening round 2-under par 69 and then played consistently through the first 15 holes of the second round.   Holding a comfortable margin on the 16th tee, Sloan appeared to be letting it get away when he finished that par five hole with a triple bogey.   But he found his championship composure to finish the round at even par 71.   His four-stroke margin of victory over Eric Mork of Wichita and five strokes over past champion Tim McKinnis of Lyons put a huge smile on his face in the champion’s pose with the trophy.   Wichita’s Stephen McKinney won the super senior division with a 2-over par 144 beating defending super senior champion Dick Stuntz of Lawrence by a single stroke.

Audrain “The Younger” Claims another High Plains Amateur Title

The name Audrain is well known at The Golf Club at Souhwind in Garden City.  Shawn, the father, is a very good amateur golfer while Sion, the son, is making a name for the Audrain family.   Last year, Sion made the family very proud with his High Plains Amateur victory at the age of only 15.   This year Sion was a few inches taller and no longer in braces.   His golf swing was still an exhibition of a limber kid with a very long stick.   But it was effective.   Sion took a 3-stroke win over three others to claim his second consecutive High Plains Amateur title in late August at Southwind.   The three runner-up golfers included top-ranked mid-amateur Jeff Bell from Overland Park and two Dodge City Juco teammates from Thailand.    Sion joins the ranks of just two other golfers with multiple High Plains titles; Rick DeWitt of Colorado and Sean Thayer, the five time winner from Southwind.   Now only age 16, Sion Audrain has plenty of time to catch and maybe pass Thayer.

Sean Robertson of Salina took home the Masters division trophy for the third time and Michael Casamento of Wichita claimed the Senior division title.

John Bailey Wins KGA Senior Series Championship

John Bailey claims Nashville, Tenn. as his home, but he plays almost all of his competitive golf in Kansas.   As a former resident of the Sunflower State and frequent participant in KGA events, Bailey just can’t break the ties.   Now that he has his first KGA senior championship title and its trophy resting on the mantle at home, there’s little chance Bailey is leaving Kansas golf now.   Bailey found the right rhythm and stroke in mid-September as he took a one-stroke margin of victory over two others at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wichita.  He posted a two-over par 146 shooting one-under par 71 in the second and final round.  Jim Seward of Prairie Village and Michael Casamento of Wichita, tied for runner-up honors at five-over par 149.  Bailey will lead a team of 11 other Kansas senior golfers against a strong senior team from Missouri in the annual bragging-rights team event known as the Ozark Senior Challenge which will be played in mid-October at Wolf Creek Golf Club in Olathe.

Super senior honors were earned by Duane Creekmore of Wichita who won in a play-off with Doug Kaup of Phillipsburg.   Each shot five-over par 149.

Team Kansas Takes the Ozark Senior Challenge with Unlikely Comeback

Missouri forgot to bring the Trophy!   It was still at the engravers having “Missouri 2016” put on the trophy ring for prosperity.   Kansas hosted the event this year at Wolf Creek Golf Club in Olathe, one of those clubs in the Kansas City metro that belongs to both state golf associations.   But with no trophy in sight, the Kansas team still found their motivation in wanting to bring the Cup to Kansas for only the second time since Missouri replaced Arkansas in the annual series.

Missouri jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead in the morning session of day one four-ball matches.  Four matches played with gross scores and two with net scores.   The afternoon foursome matches saw a turnaround for the Kansas team by earning 3.5 points in the gross matches, but Missouri would sleep on a 7.5 – 4.5 lead.   The final round of 12 singles matches played out on the second morning was a “comeback” for the ages.   Kansas crushed Missouri with outright wins in nine matches, including all four net matches.   Those nine points compared to only three points for Missouri vaulted Kansas to a winning total of 13.5 points compared to 10.5 for Missouri.   John Bailey and Tracy Chamberlin led the Kansas team with 2.5 points out of 3 points possible over their three matches.

Team Missouri’s last words were “we’ll be sure to ship you the trophy”.   We’re still waiting!

Meanwhile, the Kansas super seniors played their Missouri counterparts in the Association Senior Cup matches.   Each squad with six players competed in the same format as the youngsters.   Missouri won the duel by a final result of 7.5 to 4.5.