Kansas Match Play: Defending champ Hanna takes medalist honors
From The Kansas Golf Association

MISSION HILLS, Kan. (July 23, 2014) -- Day two of the Kansas Amateur is always interesting. Players need to improve their position to make the match play bracket while others are just “playing out the string” knowing that really don’t have a chance (but they are enjoying the experience). Others are just trying to maintain their position in the top one-third of the field. You can’t win the Kansas Amateur on the second day, but you can certainly shoot yourself out it.

Mother Nature was kind to the players today. Yesterday’s steamy and hot conditions moderated to a pleasant and slightly breezy day. Nevertheless, the golf course seemed to be taking its toll.

In the morning wave of one-half of the field, only two players broke par and very few posted scores at 75 or better.

Bryan Norton, playing on his home golf course, was all smiles after his round of 3-under par 67. His first nine holes (the back nine) included a birdie at #12, and eagle at #14 (holing out from 120 yards), and two more birdies at #15 and #17. With another birdie on the par five #8 hole, Norton finished with a two-day total of 1-under par 139.

Playing alongside Norton was Zac Burton, the current leader of the KGA Player-of-the-Year points race. Burton took some inspiration from Norton and posted a 1-under par 69 to also be listed in the 1-under par 139 column. Also in the 139 column is Travis Mays.

Josh Weems, the 2015 Railer champion from Lake Quivira, struggled on his opening nine with a 5-over par 40 but calmed down with a 1-over par nine on the front side to finish at 6-over par 146. He will have easily secured a match play seeding.

Two players reported rules infractions to the Committee that resulted in an unfortunate disqualification. Their performance was likely to have earned them spots in the match play bracket. Ben Lowman of Manhattan noticed something wrong with his score posting and asked to view his scorecard. It was confirmed that he had signed for a score on one hole lower than he had actually made. The sportsmanlike confession was accepted. Hunter Leichner of Wichita was unaware of the prohibition of practice on the competition course between two stroke play rounds. When quizzed by the Committee regarding his return to the golf course on Tuesday evening, Leichner, who shot an even par 70 in the first round, quickly admitted his mistake. The KGA salutes these two young men for their integrity.

Alex Carney coasted to a 2­-over par 142 finish but will be a threat to any match play opponent based on his significant junior and college golf experience.

Local SMU golfer Alex Higgs continued his good play with another under par round. Three birdies and one eagle (on the par five #8 hole) over-shadowed a couple of hiccups for a comfortable 1-under par 69, good enough for the #2 seed at 5-under par 135.

Defending champion Chase Hanna of Overland Park, earned medalist honors with another fine round today. Seven birdies spread out over the entire 18 holes along with a few bogeys added up to a 2-under par 68 “warm up”. Hanna’s 8-under par 132 total was three strokes better than Higgs at 135. This “birdie machine” if it stays in tune should fly through the match play bracket. Three times in the last eight years, the stroke play medalist won the match play, but the last time any player won this championship in consecutive years was Matt Gogel in 1993 and 1994. Hanna is accustomed to setting records, so don’t be surprised to see him hoist the trophy again this Sunday afternoon.

Hanna might get another chance to play a member of the Stevens family. Father Charlie sits at 2-over par 142 with the #11 seed and son Sam finished at 1-over par 141 earning the #7 seed. If history is to repeat, it can’t happen unless it is in the final match.

Thursday will feature 32 matches beginning at 7:30 a.m. The final match of the day will start at 12:30 p.m. The second round of matches will be played Friday morning, which will be the first of three consecutive days of double rounds ending with Sunday’s 36-hole final match. The public is welcome to come and watch any match free of charge.

ABOUT THE Kansas Amateur Match Play

36 holes of individual stroke play qualifying to determine low 64 players advancing to single elimination match play bracket. Any player that is not exempt from regional qualifying must go through one of the five regional qualifying sites or the second chance qualifier to advance to the championship. Open to any male amateur golfer with an active USGA/GHIN Handicap Index through a KGA member club.

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