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Firecracker Open: Cooper Wins His Second

Story by Doug Smith, correspondent for the Austin American Statesman

AUSTIN, TX (July 6, 2008)--Caroline Cooper is only 4 1/2 months old, so she can be excused if she does not remember Sunday's final round of the Firecracker Open at Lions Municipal.

She won't remember how her mom, Narjann, held her as her father, Michael, gave her a good luck kiss as he walked to the 18th green with a one-shot lead in the championship.

The good luck kiss worked. Cooper, who had driven the par-4 18th green, got down in two putts for a birdie, a final round 5-under 66 and what proved to be a winning 54-hole total of 12-under 201.

Cooper's 201 was good enough to hold off playing partner Brenden Redfern, the defending champion, and Scott Roudebush, who was playing in the final group, immediately behind Cooper. Redfern three-putted No. 18 for a 68 and third place at 203. Roudebush made par on the 18th for a 68 and second place at 202.

Six-time Firecracker champion Billy Clagett finished with an even par 71 to tie Andrew Workman for fourth place at 207.

Cooper and Redfern began the day tied at 7-under and two shots behind Matt Smith and Robby Ormand. Cooper, the 2003 Firecracker winner, and Redfern both shot 4-under 31 on the front nine to distance themselves from the rest of the field.

Cooper took the lead with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 14th, getting him to 12-under for the tournament, while Redfern made par to stay at 11-under.

Redfern and Cooper both made bogey on the par-4 16th. Redfern then sank a 10-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 17th, and he and Cooper went to No 18 all square at 11-under.

Cooper drove the green and two-putted from 40-feet for birdie and was in the house at 12-under par. Redfern's drive was 30 yards short of the green. He chipped to 18 feet but then thee-putted for bogey to finish at 10-under 203.

Cooper then waited as Roudebush, at 11-under par, played the 18th. A playoff seemed possible, but Roudebush made a par and Cooper walked off with his second Firecracker victory.

In addition to the 2003 Firecracker, Cooper has won two Austin City Championships, but he has been sidelined most of the last two years. He underwent surgery for a cancerous kidney two years ago and has been taking even more time off since the birth of Caroline on Feb. 19. This week's Firecracker was his first competition since last fall.

"This is such a special place and such a special tournament," Cooper said. "To have won it once is incredible. I can't put into words how special it is to win it a second time. There are so many great players in this tournament, and so many wonderful young players like Brenden. I'll be 39 this week, so for me to win against these guys is something special."

He donned a "Save Muny" T-shirt for the awards presentation (the fate of Lions Municipal, or "Old Muny", is up in the air as the University of Texas decides what it will do with the land on which the course sits), which included former Firecracker champion Ben Crenshaw. Crenshaw followed Cooper on the back nine.

Cooper's voice cracked with emotion as he accepted the trophy.

"Billy (Clagett) has won this six times, and he's 60-something," Cooper said. "I just hope I'm around long enough, and hope this course is around long enough to get somewhere close to that.

"But, today, it's hard to imagine being any happier. I'm living in Austin, playing golf, have the most wonderful wife in the world and the most wonderful daughter. It just can't get any better than this."

Final results from the Firecracker Open, played at Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin, TX, July 4-6, 2008:

1 Michael Cooper 70 65 66 201
2 Scott Roudebush 67 67 68 202
3 Brenden Redfern 68 67 68 203
4 Robby Ormand 69 64 73 206
T5 Billy Clagett 67 69 71 207
T5 Andrew Workman 72 66 69 207
7 Johnny Ormand 67 68 73 208
8 Julio Vegas 72 67 70 209
T9 Matthew Henson 67 70 74 211
T9 Kody King 70 71 70 211
T9 Steven Bright 69 74 68 211
T12 Matt Smith 67 66 79 212
T12 Charlie Laudermilk 72 67 73 212
T12 John Perez 70 70 72 212
T15 Miles Hindsman 64 75 74 213
T15 Alex Ellis 71 70 72 213
T15 Rob Ormand 72 72 69 213
T15 Trey Schroeder 71 75 67 213
T19 Jeff Shell 71 69 74 214
T19 Jaime Kellam 69 72 73 214
T19 Ben Pounds 70 73 71 214
T19 Daniel Wood 72 71 71 214
T23 Joe Bendetti 70 70 75 215
T23 Eli Juren 72 72 71 215
T23 Martin Board, Jr. 74 70 71 215
T23 Mike Allen 74 73 68 215
T27 Bob Ammon 70 73 73 216
T27 Michael Smith 76 72 68 216
T29 James Fedro 72 68 77 217
T29 Brent Spencer 73 72 72 217
T31 Jeff Jacoby 71 68 79 218
T31 Jaime Beaman 71 71 76 218
T31 Jordan Woolf 70 75 73 218
T31 Chris Doti 75 70 73 218
T31 George Covert 72 74 72 218
T36 Steffan Schmieding 71 71 77 219
T36 Dan Howard 74 74 71 219
T38 Lee Broussard 65 76 79 220
T38 Andrew Rollins 73 72 75 220
T38 Bryan Puckett 73 73 74 220
T38 Stephen Loyd 71 77 72 220
T38 Robby Russell 73 76 71 220
T43 Hagen Fell 68 76 77 221
T43 Callen Nokes 73 72 76 221
T43 David Martinez 77 71 73 221
T46 Dylan Shephard 74 70 78 222
T46 Cameron Nofi 73 71 78 222
T46 Randy Reynolds 72 73 77 222
T46 Ken Gadawski 72 73 77 222
T46 Marshall Hinton 75 72 75 222
T46 T. Ross Henry 75 79 68 222
T52 Marcus Opheim 78 69 76 223
T52 Nick Olivarri 73 76 74 223
T54 Mike Bertram 71 74 79 224
T54 Nathan Erwin 72 75 77 224
T54 Jerry Thorn 73 76 75 224
T54 Scott McMahon 72 78 74 224
T54 Zack Wilson 76 77 71 224
T59 Jeremy Williams 76 69 77 225
T59 Richard Welch 77 73 75 225
T59 Richard Wyche 74 77 74 225
T59 Craig Spotts 73 80 72 225
T63 Michael Oliva 75 75 76 226
T63 Hudson Hansard 74 76 76 226
T65 Alexander Unnasch 75 77 75 227
T65 Tony Pitifer 73 80 74 227
T67 Stephen Wilson 78 72 78 228
T67 Kevin McCalla 77 75 76 228
T69 Patrick Shanahan 79 69 81 229
T69 Kevin Dahl 79 75 75 229
T71 Clint Rodgers 75 74 81 230
T71 Dan Treager 77 80 73 230
T73 Alan Bell 72 76 83 231
T73 Aaron McPherson 75 79 77 231
T73 Jason Kay 77 77 77 231
T73 David Brader 75 80 76 231
T77 Cole Lewis 75 76 81 232
T77 Drew Bell 79 72 81 232
T77 Matthew Pizalate 72 82 78 232
T77 Jim Gibson 75 79 78 232
T77 Kristen Hendrix 76 80 76 232
82 Tim Wilson 75 75 83 233
T83 Seth Stuart 75 78 81 234
T83 Scott Bailey 80 75 79 234
T83 Pat O'Brien 76 80 78 234
T86 Ramiro Gonzales 74 79 82 235
T86 Terry Hutchens 75 79 81 235
T86 Bill Sill 75 80 80 235
T89 Willie Graves 76 75 85 236
T89 Todd Schonhar 76 76 84 236
T89 Jim Perzan 74 78 84 236
T89 Joel Norwood 83 73 80 236
T89 Scot Schroeder 77 80 79 236
T94 Bill Dever 77 75 86 238
T94 Mike Cleveland 76 81 81 238
96 Patrick Dickson 79 79 80 239
97 George Birge 86 72 82 240
98 Anel Patel 75 80 87 242
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