Mitchell Meissner (TXGA photo)
By Art Stricklin
TRINITY, Texas – San Antonio’s Mitchell Meissner birdied the last two holes Sunday to pull away for a three-shot victory over Levi Valadez in the 109th Texas Amateur Championship at steamy Whispering Pines Golf Club outside of Huntsville.
Meissner, who recently graduated from Rice University and won the Conference USA Championship for the Owls earlier this year, plans to turn pro later this fall. He said he was thrilled to finally claim Texas’ oldest and most prestigious golf tournament and its huge century-old silver trophy.
“This is a big thrill for me. Two years ago I led after one round at my home course in San Antonio (Oak Hills CC), but didn’t get the job done,” he said. “I was glad to do it today.”
Meissner, who carried his Rice University bag, shot a four under 68 in the final round for a 282 total, six under par, in a closing 18 holes that featured bouts of sun and rain with occasional dark clouds and lightning. His younger brother McClure was tied for third at 288 along with Cypress, Texas player Kyle Hogan. The younger McClure shot a final round 72, while Hogan had a 73.
The new champion (Art Stricklin photo)
Valadez, at junior at nearby Sam Houston State University and whose team plays here every Thursday, finished with a final round 72-285 total for second place.
After Valadez stiffed his tee shot on the par-3 16th to cut the deficit to one shot, Meissner came right back with a birdie on the par-5 17th to give him a more comfortable two-shot lead going to the 18th hole.
“Levi and I are best friends so it was fun to go back and forth today. We both birdied 14 and he birdied 16 and I was lucky to make a couple of good putts on 17 and 18,” the champion said.
“It was fun firing birdies out there, but I didn’t use good course management some of the time,” Valadez added. “I saw him hit it close and I tried firing at pins and I came up short when I should have laid back into a better position. This was a good learning experience for me.”
Valdez and Meissner put the ball in the 18th fairway and after a brief lightning delay, Meissner completed the job.
“I just marked my ball in the fairway, because I wanted to make sure how far I was out. I went in the clubhouse, watched some of the U.S. Open and had some lunch. I didn’t even think about the shot,” Meissner said.
He capped his victory with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th green, shaking hands and celebrating the win with his dad, Kurt, who showed up for Father’s Day.
Houston high school senior William Moll, who took a two-shot lead to the final round in his bid to become the youngest Texas Amateur winner in history, struggled on Sunday. He lost his lead on the front nine and fell further behind. He had a water ball on the 15th hole and finished with a closing 78 to tie for fifth with Chandler Phillips from nearby Huntsville.
Both players finished at one over 289, seven shots out of the lead.
“This can do nothing but help me this summer,” Moll said. “After going against older amateurs, going against juniors should seem easier.”
Moll, who is verbally committed to Vanderbilt University in Nashville and wore a Vanderbilt shirt, led after rounds two and three, making him the youngest player ever to lead multiple rounds solo at the Texas Amateur.
Whispering Pines is annually the top rated course in Texas by the only statewide survey and has also hosted the Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship and the international biennial Spirit Amateur.
ABOUT THE Texas Amateur
72 hole medal play walking-only championship first
played in 1906. At the completion of 36 holes the field
is cut to the low 54 and ties plus all players within 10
strokes of the lead.
18-hole qualifying rounds are held throughout the state
for players not otherwise exempt into the tournament
proper. Visit the Texas Golf Assocation website for
View Complete Tournament Information