Gary Durbin (far left) and Jackie Burke (c) congratulate Champions Cup winners
Brad Segreto (2nd left) and John Hunter
by Will Doctor
The team of John Hunter and Brad Segreto won the 53rd Champions Cup Invitational at Champions Golf Club in northwest Houston by a narrow margin of one stroke Sunday, finishing the week at 20-under-par for a 263 total. It was the lowest winning score at the Champions Cup since 2013.
“Today, we were just trying to keep it rolling,” Hunter said Sunday. “We wanted to make a lot of pars and not give anything away. We got off to a good start today by making some big putts on the front nine and continued to fight for pars on the back.”
It was a bunched leaderboard heading into Sunday with plenty of former winning teams in the mix. Derek Meinhart and Kyle Maxwell (2015 champions) were the closest contenders behind leaders Hunter and Segreto heading into the final round, trailing by four strokes. They closed to within two strokes Sunday before settling for third place behind runner-ups Alan Coshatt and Brad Nurski, but not before some 18th-hole fireworks.
“It came down to the last hole. John (Hunter) needed to make a 6-foot par putt on 18 to win. If he had missed, and Derek (Meinhart) had made birdie from about 12 feet, there would’ve been a three-way tie. Hunter and Segreto came through in some critical situations,” said Champions Cup chairman Gary Dubin.
Coshatt and Nurski, the other team in the “could’ve been” three-way tie, catapulted to solo second place with a final round 64.
Hunter and Segreto are now two-time winners of the Champions Cup. Their previous win came in 2016 when the Champions Cup was played on Champion’s Jackrabbit course when the traditional Cypress Creek course was closed due to a flood that year.
THE STORY BEHIND THE CHAMPIONS CUP'S RETURN FROM COVID-19
The 2021 Champions Cup was supposed to be the 54th edition of the event. However, the tournament committee decided to postpone last year’s event instead of canceling it.
“We were very disappointed last year that we had to, as we like to put it, postpone the event. We pushed the 53rd Champions Cup back to 2021 and allowed those who were accepted into the tournament last year to have the first choice to register this year,” said Don Champion, director of operations for the Champions Cup committee.
Forty-five of the 52 teams who had been invited to the best ball event last year returned, and the amateur event was filled with a mix of prominent teams from around the world. That shouldn’t catch anyone by surprise, as the Champions Cup continues to attract the best mid-amateur pairs every year. But what really makes Champions Golf Club unique?
“It’s the focus on amateur golf at the highest level,” said Champions Cup sponsor Todd Nimmer. “Jackie Burke Jr. (co-founder of Champions Golf Club) has always focused on amateur golf, and this is one of the best invitationals. It brings in not only teams from North America, but duos from all over the globe are coming to play in this.”
The focus and effort that Burke, the 1956 Masters and PGA Championship winner, has put into amateur golf are unmatched. Fifty-seven years ago, Burke and longtime golf rival Jimmy Demaret set out on a mission to raise the awareness of amateur golf in the south by building Champions Golf Club. They made two 18-hole golf courses (Jackrabbit and Cypress Creek) in undeveloped northwest Houston. Different architects designed two diverse courses so members would develop the ability to compete under differing challenges.
According to Burke, bringing golf to the south runs deep in his roots, instilled by his father, Jackie Burke Sr.
“My dad was from Philadelphia, then he worked in Fort Worth for several years before coming down to Houston to build railroads and a golf course,” said Burke.
That golf course, designed by the legendary course architect Donald Ross, would become River Oaks Country Club. Burke Sr. served as the club’s first head professional.
It’s been 38 years since Demaret’s passing, but Burke Jr. has not forgotten the vision that the two good friends set to accomplish with their club. Champions Golf Club is strictly for golf, not attached to a resort or country club, a business model that has been seemingly lost in the current blueprint of golf courses.
“We are doing what we set out to do. The game of golf produces money, but I make sure it goes back into golf. It’s up to me to staff this place correctly and make sure it stays golf-only. Not tennis, food, a pool, or whatever else clubs seem to thrive on,” said Burke Jr.View results for Champions Cup Invitational
ABOUT THE Champions Cup Invitational
Champions is Jack Burke's club, and the
Champions Cup is his
invitational tournament. This is a special
place, full of history and
worthy of the championships it has hosted,
which include the Ryder
Cup, U.S. Open, U.S Amateur, U.S. Mid-
Amateur and multiple Tour
Championships. The Champions Cup is a 72-hole
four-ball event with
no cut. It is a very popular tournament that
attracts a very strong,
competitive national field. To be considered
for entry, players must
maintain a maximum USGA handicap of 3, be
at least 25 years old
and submit playing accomplishments to be
considered. Walking is
required but long pants are no longer
mandatory. Contestants are
urged to stay at the homes of Champions
members (at no cost), but
can arrange their own accommodations if
desiring to do so. The tournament formerly
required both contestants
to be from the same state but has since
waived that requirement.
View Complete Tournament Information