DALLAS, Texas — The fact that Jeff New leads the 2015 Trans-Mississippi Senior Championship through 36 holes after he shot a 5-over-par 76 in the second round is a testament not only to challenges presented by A.W. Tillinghast’s classic design at Brook Hollow Golf Club, but also to the strength of New’s 2-under 69 in the disjointed first round.
New, who lives in Scottsdale, sits alone in first place at 3-over 145 headed into Thursday’s final round. He’s two strokes clear of Mitchell Murphy, also from Scottsdale, whose 71-76 adds up to 5-over 147.
Bob Kearney from Houston and Mike Peck from Irving share third place at 6-over 148. There are 11 players within five shots of New in the Senior Division (ages 55-64).
New, 58, had no issues with Tuesday’s suspension of play because of darkness and Wednesday’s early morning restart. A nearly three-hour weather delay on Tuesday disrupted the completion of the first round, so about 50 golfers had to restart and finish at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
New was one of those stuck on the course at dusk Tuesday, and he made the most of it.
It started with his final stroke before play was called. The former longtime Houston resident and fixture atop Texas Golf Association championship leaderboards, New drained a 30-foot birdie on the 17th hole. When he returned to play his final hole Wednesday morning, New surprised himself by running in a 40-foot bomb for consecutive birdies separated by sleep.
The second birdie took him to 2-under 69, the best round of the tournament through 36 holes.
“Honestly, I was just trying to two-putt both of them,” said New, a retired investments manager who moved with his family to Scottsdale in 2012.
New struggled some in the second round, but he made enough putts to hold the lead.
“Overall I hit the ball pretty well,” New said. “I missed a few greens today, and this golf course makes you pay for that. The main difference between yesterday and today was that I hit my irons better yesterday and made more putts.”
A former Texas State Junior Champion and five-time USGA championship participant, New said he hopes to accomplish a major goal in Thursday’s final round.
“This is one of my three favorite courses in Texas,” he said. “It’s a position course, a placement course. I really love it here. I’ve never won a TGA or Trans-Miss event, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
In the Super Senior Division (ages 65-69), Frank Brame from Alexandria, La., holds a two-shot advantage at 7-over 149. Brame followed his 1-over 71 in the first round with a 77 on Wednesday. Close behind is tournament co-chairman Chris Maletis, who shot 1-over 72 in the second round and sits at 9-over 151 overall.
Maletis, a 66-year-old from Portland, Ore., won the Trans-Miss Senior Championship in 2011, which was the last time the event was played at Brook Hollow. The format then was match play; Maletis defeated Robert Polk from Parker, Colo., 2 and 1, the finals.
Denny Alexander, 69, from Fort Worth is in third place in the Super Senior Division at 10-over 152.
The Legends Division, for players aged 70 and older, crowned its champion Wednesday afternoon upon completion of its 36-hole format. Jim Martin, 70, was all smiles after posting his second round 73, which was good for a nine-shot, breakthrough victory.
“This is absolutely thrilling,” said Martin, a Dallas resident since 1971 who grew up in Waco and attended Baylor. “I’ve finished fourth, third and fifth in this event the last three years. To win this is pretty outstanding for me.”
Martin, who won the 1987 Trans-Miss Four-Ball title with his Dallas partner Travis Thompson, made two birdies in his final round at Brook Hollow. He struggled a bit in the first round, but rallied to pull away Wednesday.
“I made some pretty good saving chips and 4- and 5-foot putts that were critical to keep the round going,” he said. “I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”
Thursday’s final round features a single wave of split tee starts, beginning at 7:30 a.m. The leaders in both divisions tee off at 9:31 a.m.
ABOUT THE Trans-Miss Senior
Entrants must be at least 55 years or
older by the first day of the tournament,
Handicap Index (or equivalent) not
4.0 (10.0 or less in
Super Senior Division of 65 and over) and be a
Trans-Mississippi Golf Association member
(players may make an individual contribution of $100
minimum to the Turf Scholarship Fund as part of the
entry process, in lieu of club membership).
The championship will be contested over 54 holes
of individual stroke play with three (3) divisions;
Senior, Super Senior and Legends. Each division will
play from separate tees/yardages and separate
champions will be recognized in each division.
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