THE WOODLANDS, Texas (May 18, 2007)— Early in the first day of the Carlton Woods Invitational, 70-year-old Bob Hullender jokingly asked if the tees could be moved up for him, due to his age. By the end of the tournament, the Director of Golf was jokingly referring to the tournament as the “Bob Hullender Invitational” and promising that the tournament committee would be “looking into things” to assure he wouldn’t break par next year.
The 54-hole tourney, held at The Club at Carlton Woods saw a pair of San Antonio residents, Hullender and Jonathan Mathias, pull out wire-to-wire victories by riding first-round 2-under-par 70’s to the finish line.
Hullender took the senior flight with a 70-73-72—218, eight strokes better than his nearest competition, while Mathias shot 70-72-78—220 to hold off a late challenge by Dan Crockett by two strokes.
It was Hullender who was the headline grabber, taking the title for the second consecutive year, and grabbing the honor of the first in tournament history to finish in he red.
While the first day of golf at the difficult Nicklaus Course saw several golfers walking off the course muttering: “I hit the ball pretty well, I don’t know how I ended up with 80,” Hullender and Mathias jumped out to commanding leads by firing 70’s.
Hullender built on his lead on Day 2, played at the Fazio Course, extending it to six strokes, while Mathias’ margin was cut to four when Reno’s David Nelson went 2-under.
Nelson faded with an 80 on the third day, again played at the Nicklaus Course, but Mathias briefly allowed the door to open when went bogey, quadruple bogey, on holes 3 and 4.
Looking to squeeze into the lead was Crockett, of Franklin, Tenn., who made his run by finishing the third day at 2-under-70.
But Mathias was able to recover, stopping the bleeding by shooting 1-over on the back nine to seal the championship.
"You know that's golf, I've been playing a lot of competitive golf over the last couple of years and I've learned from that experience," said Mathias. "I knew I still had fifteen holes left and the tournament wasn't over yet, I knew that as hard as this course was playing and as comfortable as I am on this golf course that I could still post a good score and win this tournament."
Hullender, on the other hand, never had to sweat, using his surprising length (possibly the biggest hitters in a division of men 10-15 years his junior) and steady putter to calmly tick off the holes until he reached the clubhouse.
“I guess you could say I played a little more defensive today,” said Hullender. “Starting off with a six-shot lead I didn’t feel like I had to get too aggressive, so there were several times where I played it safe.”
He also said he was eager to go for the three-peat next year.
“I don’t know how you’ll be able to keep me away, if I’m alive, I’ll be here,” said Hullender. “It was nice to take both titles back to San Antonio.”
*** NOTES FROM THE COURSE ***
-The Air Force was particularly well-represented at the top of the leaderboards. Bob Hullender retired from the service in 1989 as a Brigadier General, Mathias is an active duty member, and Jerry Ledzinski, the third-place, mid-am finisher graduated from the Air Force Academy.
-It was the second time Ledzinski was close at the end, last year he finished as runner-up.
-Defending mid-am champ Andy Cooper never got it started after shooting 81 on the first day. He finished in a tie for 24th with a 236.
-Director of Golf Mark Steinbauer joked that the senior flight should be renamed “The Bob Hullender Invitational.”
-Texans took the top six spots in the senior division.
-Without fail, the players marveled at the shape of the golf course. This reporter didn’t see a blade of grass out of place over the three day tourney.
- Special thanks to the entire Tournament Committee, with special appreciation to Jeff Jordan for his assistance with media coverage. (look out Jeff, The Golf Channel may be calling soon!)
--For full results, click on the appropriate link below:
Mid-Amateur Division LEADERBOARD> ... Senior Division LEADERBOARD>