Texas Senior Amateur winner John Derrick (Texas Golf Association photo)
Ridgewood Country Club member John Derrick
(Waco) fought through 25-30 mph winds and climbed up and past the leaders today to win the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur.
Derrick, who last year won the Sunnehanna Senior Amateur
, took advantage of not only his course knowledge, but his awareness of the wind as well.
“Today, the tough wind conditions really helped me,” said Derrick told the Texas Golf Association. “It swirls around here and it’s confusing. Some of the guys who haven’t played around here had a disadvantage because they didn’t know what the wind was going to do. I definitely think I had a big advantage.”
At the beginning of the day, the stage seemed to be set for one of the hottest senior golfers in the country -- Craig Hurlbert
of Magnolia -- to win his fifth title of the year. Hurlbert, 58, won back-to-back winter titles at the Old Corkscrew and Gateway Senior Invitationals, before going on to win the Montana Senior and Golfweek Senior Match Play titles. He is currently 5th in the AmateurGolf.com Senior Rankings
and No. 1 in the Player of the Year race for seniors.
But today, the winds through him off.
"I was totally out of sync and had no idea what to do," said Hurlbert of the effect of today's winds on his game. "Overall, the wind was very inconsistent. It was down. It was up. It was just a hard day today. John played very well. He knows where to hit the ball on this golf course. I’m not surprised that someone from this club won the tournament.”
Indeed, the 5-over 40 Hurlbert shot on the front nine today was 8 shots higher than the 32 he posted on his opening nine, en route to a tournament-low round of 69.
Derrick, who shot rounds of 70-75 in the opening rounds, trailed Hurlbert by three shots at the start of the day. But thanks to an even par 35 on the front nine -- highlighted by a 40 foot downhill birdie putt on No. 8 -- he had surged past Hurlbert with nine holes to play.
“I hit it about 40 feet past the hole,” said Derrick of his putt on No. 8. “It was a really quick, downhill putt. I was just trying to two-putt it. And I made it. That gave me some really good momentum.”
of Southlake, who started the day tied with Derrick at 145, also posted 35 to stay neck and neck with Derrick at the turn.
That's when the local knowledge really came into play for Derrick, including a big "read" as he faced an important par putt on No. 14, which was key to him retaining his lead. With winds gusting, pars were tough to hold onto on the back nine, and Derick's 20 foot par save there was another confidence booster.
Lohner had a 6-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Derrick but it slid past, giving the title to the local favorite, who has been a member of Ridgewood since 1996 and estimates he has over 2000 rounds under his belt there. At 7-over 217, Derrick finished a shot in front of Lohner and another shot in front of Hurlbert, who this time had to settle for third.
Ridgewood Head Professional Jimmy Cunningham, along with scores of friends and club members, crowded around the 18th green to watch Derrick cap off the major championship victory.
“It’s always fantastic to have one of your members compete in one of these prestigious events, let alone win it,” Cunningham said. “John is a dedicated player who practices a lot, and this week he showed why he’s such a strong competitor. I know it means a lot to him, but it also means a lot to me and the membership. We’re all so proud of him.”
ABOUT RIDGEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB
Ridgewood Country Club is a 1947 Ralph Plummer-designed gem, where several of the holes run along the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Waco, and the fast-running fairways rise and fall throughout the property to create relentless uneven lies. Many of the greens sit perched above eye level from the fairways, which causes trepidation and indecisiveness on approach shots.
ABOUT THE Texas Senior Amateur
The State Senior Amateur is the second oldest
event of all the TGA tournaments, having first
been played in 1937.
Eligibility: Entries are open to male amateur golfers
GHIN Handicap Index of 6.4 or less and who are 55
of age or older as of the tournament start date (first
of tournament play). All players will be competing in
division from the same tees and yardage.
Format/Field Size: Play will be contested over 54
stroke play. All players will be competing in one
from the same tees and yardage. The field is limited
144 players. At the completion of the 36 holes the
be cut to the low 54 players and ties.
View Complete Tournament Information