Chris Wheeler (Texas Golf Association photo)
Chris Wheeler broke through in a major way Sunday when he won the 2019 Texas Mid-Amateur at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas by five shots with a 54-hole score of 2-under-par 214.
Time and again during his competitive career in Texas Golf Association championships, Wheeler lived at the top of leaderboards only to fall short of victory. The talented mid-amateur led the 110th Texas Amateur this summer at Dallas Athletic Club after a sizzling 64 in the first round. Wheeler ultimately finished second place. In August, he lost the North Texas Amateur in a playoff. He also held the 36-hole lead at the 2017 Texas Mid-Amateur but stumbled to a 23rd-place finish.
This time, however, Wheeler finished the job off in style. It was his first TGA Championship victory.
“It feels awesome. I’ve played well all year and been close to few times in big events,” said Wheeler, a 36-year-old Tulane graduate. “This was one I definitely really wanted to win. I’m just really, really happy to get it done. It was an awesome golf course and a great field. I’m just super happy.”
Wheeler entered the final round tied for the lead with recently reinstated amateur Jeff Howard from Plano at even-par 144. One shot back was two-time defending Mid-Amateur champion Colby Harwell from San Antonio. The three battled throughout the final day on the most difficult course in Texas.
After a bogey on the first hole, Wheeler birdied the par-4 third and par-3 eighth to get to 1-under for the championship. Wheeler had a three-shot lead through nine holes, but the margin didn’t last long. On very next hole, the tournament changed with one swing of Wheeler’s pitching wedge. He holed out from 125 yards for an eagle-2 on the 394-yard, uphill 10th hole.
Suddenly, Wheeler led by five shots with eight holes to play.
“It’s funny, yesterday on No. 10, I hit a shot that I thought was really good and it ended up coming back 40 yards into the fairway,” Wheeler said. “So I hit a shot today I thought was really good, but when we got up the green we didn’t see it. We couldn’t see the shot land. I thought I had a little more adversity there, but I checked the hole, and there it was.”
Wheeler cruised in from there. He did bogey the par-4 15th hole, but he got the stroke back with a birdie on the 583-yard, par-5 17th.
His good friend Harwell finished in second place at 3-over 219. His bid for the first Mid-Amateur threepeat since 1994 came up a little short, but he was happy for Wheeler.
“Chris played excellent today,” Harwell said. “He kept in play all day and made a lot of putts.”
Howard took third place at 4-over 220.
In addition to the Texas Mid-Amateur champion, the TGA recognizes the Low Mid-Master after 54 holes for players ages 40 and older. This year’s Low Mid-Master was Marcus Jones from Argyle. Jones, a member at Maridoe, finished fourth overall at 5-over 221.
“I like it that there’s a Mid-Master division,” he said. “It is tough to play against 25-year-olds and other college kids like in the Texas Amateur. It’s nice to see how you stack up against guys your age.”
Brad Immel from Keller and Dallas resident Rob Couture, the 2008 Mid-Amateur champion and a Maridoe member, tied for fifth place at 7-over 223.View results for Texas Mid-Amateur
ABOUT THE Texas Mid-Amateur
Eligibility: Entries are open to male golfers
USGA Handicap index of 8.4 or less, and who
25 years of age or older by the first day of
Format/Field Size: 54 holes of stroke play. At the
completion of 36 holes the field is cut to the low 54
players and ties. The field is limited to 132 players.
Mid-Master Recognition: In addition to the overall
champion, an award will be given to the low Mid-
Master finisher. (Mid-Master – any player 40+ years
View Complete Tournament Information