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Harwell pulls off historic repeat at Texas Mid-Amateur
Colby Harwell (TGA photo)
Colby Harwell (TGA photo)

HOUSTON (Sept. 16, 2018) – Colby Harwell made a two-putt par from 35 feet on the first playoff hole Sunday at River Oaks Country Club to successfully defend his Texas Mid-Amateur title. He becomes the first amateur in Texas to win back-to-back Mid-Amateur Championships since John Grace won four in a row from 1991-94.

Harwell, a 33-year-old from San Antonio, shot a final-round 70 to post 8-under 208 for the 54-hole championship. Houston’s Jess Bonneau also came in with 8-under 208 after he put together a beautiful 5-under 67 in the final round.

After Harwell tapped in for par on the first playoff hole – the par-4 18th – Bonneau missed a slippery 10-footer that would’ve forced another playoff hole. Harwell, the 2017 Texas Player of the Year, said he was eager to get back in the winner’s circle.

“It feels great,” Harwell said. “It kind of validates all the work I’ve put in and all the time and energy I’ve put in. It makes it all worth it.”

Playing in the final group, Harwell started the final round with a one-shot lead. He battled all day with his fellow competitors Grant Schroeder and Lewis Stephenson. Over and again all three players encouraged each other throughout the day. They complimented each other’s good shots and displayed the kind of sportsmanship that makes amateur golf such a wonderful family.

At different times during the final nine holes, Harwell, Schroeder and Bonneau, who played one group ahead, took turns holding or sharing the lead. All three players were tied late in the day, but Schroeder bogeyed the final hole to miss out on the playoff.

Harwell nearly missed the playoff, too. He pushed a short par putt on the gorgeous, downhill par-3 14th hole to make bogey and fall a shot out of the lead. Harwell bounced back, however, with an 8-foot birdie on the par-4 16th hole. He eased in a 7-footer for par on the 54th hole to tie Bonneau and force a playoff.

Once he got into the extra session, Harwell felt emboldened. The winner of the 2017 Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship, Harwell is a veteran of that type of format. With his competitor in trouble – Bonneau had to blast out back into the fairway after driving into a fairway bunker – Harwell knew a par would be a good score.

“No. 18 is a tough hole,” Harwell said. “Unfortunately, Jess hit it in the bunker and didn’t have a shot at the green. That kind of opened the door for me. I didn’t have to go flag-hunting.”

The 47-year-old Bonneau started the final round three shots behind Harwell. After a bogey on the par-3 third hole, Bonneau went error-free the rest of the way and rolled in four birdies and an eagle. In addition to runner-up honors in the championship, Bonneau won the Mid-Master Division title for players ages 40 and older.

“I’m pretty happy,” said Bonneau, who won the 2011 Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship and was a Semifinalist at the 2014 U.S. Public Links Championship. “I didn’t have much coming into this. I’ve been a really bad run for a pretty good while, so I’m pretty happy with the way everything went. I wanted to win the overall championship, but I think what (the TGA) is doing with the Mid-Master Division is great. It gives some other guys something to play for, too.”

Schroeder, a 26-year-old from Montgomery, finished in third place at 7-under 209. He played brilliantly in the final round and signed for a 3-under 69. Micah Rodgers from Odessa took fourth place at 6-under 210. Three players tied for third place at 3-under 213, including Stephenson, the 2016 Texas Senior Amateur winner, Jacob Davis from Cibolo and Josh Luongo from Round Rock.

River Oaks stood tall all week as a fantastic championship venue. Originally designed by the great Donald Ross in 1923, Tom and Logan Fazio completely renovated the course and significantly expanded the practice areas in 2015. The par-72 beauty played to 6,711 yards in the final round. The 58 competitors who survived the 36-hole cut player it to an average of 71.54.

ABOUT THE Texas Mid-Amateur

Eligibility: Entries are open to male golfers with a USGA Handicap index of 5.4 or less, and who are 25 years of age or older by the first day of championship qualifying.

Format: Scheduled for 54 holes of stroke play. Non-exempt players must attempt pre- qualifying.

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