Oklahoma Am: Dream Round for Staggs

DUNCAN, OK (July 9, 2009)--One down to Edmond’s Robert Streb after four holes in the championship match of the Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship, Colton Staggs knew he was going to have to do something special.

“The wind was blowing about 40 mph and he was just striping everything,” said Staggs. “In all my other matches I felt I was the better player. This time, I knew Robert was the better player and I was going to have to do something crazy.”

The 17-year-old junior lefty at Jenks High School did just that, slipping into a zone he had previously experienced just a few times and never in such heady circumstances. He birdied seven of the next 12 holes, hitting perfect drives, laser-like approaches and nailing every putt to leave Streb, who was playing well himself, shaking his head in disbelief.

Staggs’ incredible run at The Territory Golf Club in Duncan lifted him to a 4 and 2 victory and etched his name on an illustrious list of past champions.

“It was a round that every golfer dreams of having,” Staggs said. “I’ve played like that twice before, but never in a tournament. I was shaping my drives perfectly and making every putt. I was in the zone.”

Staggs, who won seven tournaments as a sophomore at Jenks, had gained confidence earlier in the event with a quarterfinal victory over Alan Bratton, the assistant coach at Oklahoma State, the golf power to which Staggs has given a non-binding verbal commitment to play his collegiate golf.

“He is a three-time All-American and a legend and the most accomplished player in the field,” Staggs said. “Winning that match gave me a lot of confidence.”

Staggs, who shot a 1-over 73 in qualifying, said his goal coming in was just to make it to match play, but once there he lifted his sights.

“Each player I faced I just told myself I was better and wasn’t going to lose the match,” he said. “I play against a lot of guys at Cedar Ridge who are just as good and I do well in those matches.”

“Colton is very strong mentally,” said Jenks coach Brent Wilcoxen. “He’s got that mental aspect you don’t see in a lot of young players. He wants to compete against the best and beat the best players. He knows he wants to play golf for a living.”

Staggs got off to ragged start in his semifinal match with Baer Aneshanesley of Clinton, snap hooking his opening tee shot and chopping his way to five over and two down through four holes.

“I made a sliding six-foot par putt on the sixth hole and that turned it around,” Staggs said. “I went on a four-birdie run after that and putted well the rest of the tournament.”

Staggs had struggled in several AJGA events leading up to the amateur but has renewed confidence now for the rest of his summer schedule, which includes trying to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Aug. 24-30 at Cedar Ridge and Southern Hills Country Club. He will participate in qualifying on Aug. 3 in Grand Prairie, Texas, against 80 competitors for two spots.

“I’ll probably have to play even better there than I did in the last round to make it,” Staggs said.

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