Oklahoma Senior Am: Hughett takes it

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Mike Hughett collected his 14th Oklahoma Golf Association title with a 3 and 2 victory over Brent Taylor in the championship match of the Senior State Amateur Championship at Gaillardia Golf & Country Club on Thursday.

It was Hughett's first victory at the event after becoming eligible for the senior division two years ago.

"To win this event is very, very special to me," said Hughett. "It is one of the OGA events that I've never won before. I thought I had an excellent chance last year, but let it slip away in the semifinals. Once you hit the senior division, your window of opportunity is very brief, and I'm happy I was able to pull this one out."

Hughett led throughout the entirety of the championship match that featured very few halved holes as the duo combined to win 11 of the 16 holes contested.

The Owasso, Okla., native struck first with a win at the opening hole after his par attempt was conceded and Taylor couldn't convert his par attempt from 15 feet to halve the hole. Hughett also picked up victories at the par-3 fourth hole with an 18-foot birdie putt and two-putted for birdie at the par-5 sixth after reaching the 531-yard hole in two.

The duo showed signs of fatigue early in the afternoon match, as the pair had played a combined 13 rounds of golf in four days, with temperatures eclipsing 100 degrees again on Thursday.

Hughett and Taylor both carded 3-over-par 39s on the opening side, as the match went to the back nine all square despite a trio of sixes and a pair of penalty strokes on Hughett's card.

"It certainly was not a pretty match," said Hughett. "I believe we both started to feel the effects of the extreme heat for four straight days of golf. It certainly wasn't as good as we had played earlier in the week, but we were able to settle down and make some birdies on the front side after our shaky start."

Any ill effects from the front side were quickly erased as Hughett played the first five holes of the back nine at 1-under, which included the only back-nine birdie of the match with a 15-foot conversion at the par-4 12th hole.

"It felt like it was about the only putt I made all day," said Hughett. "I had it read just right and had the speed perfect. They were setting the pins a bit closer to the ridges and the edges of the greens today, so I had to stay patient."

The birdie putt ignited a streak of three straight hole victories, as the match was dormied after Hughett's par at the 577-yard par-5 14th hole.

Hughett's lone mistake on the back nine came at the par-3 15th hole, where his double-bogey allowed Taylor's bogey convert to keep the match alive. The miscue came too little too late for Taylor, however, as the duo both made par at the 449-yard 16th hole to seal the 3 and 2 victory for Hughett.

"My back was hurting a bit and I was just looking for something that I could put in the fairway and make some pars, which I knew would win most of the holes," said Hughett. "That was something that wouldn't have happened earlier in the week, but with this being such a long tournament, played in the heat of the summer, it is extremely taxing on you physically. I believe it played a big effect on our games and I'm just happy to come out on top. "

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