- Trans-Miss photo
Derek Busby has displayed poise, confidence and self-control through 54 holes at Windsong Farm Golf Club. Those traits typically describe someone with experience, and that’s exactly what the 37-year-old mid-amateur brought to the 117th Trans-Mississippi Amateur. Following a third consecutive round in red figures, Busby leads the field by six strokes headed into the final round.
Busby opened with rounds of 66-65. He led the championship by four shots, yet he went to the range late Wednesday afternoon to work on his swing. That range session helped manage his way to a 1-under-par round on Thursday and extend his margin against the field.
“I had a call with Butch (Harmon) last night and calmed down my right hand,” Busby said. “I thought I struck it fine today. I thought the golf course was much more difficult, so it was just about plotting you’re way along.”
Busby carded a birdie on the par-4 third and bogeyed the par-3 fourth. He turned at even par, and added another birdie on the par-5 12th. Following a clutch up and down for par on the difficult par-4 15th, Busby hit his tee shot to 20 feet past the hole on the par-3 16th. After taking a few different looks at the double-breaking putt with his caddie, Hoop, he gently struck it down the hill and it found the bottom of the cup.
“That was good for us as a team,” Busby said. “It was a crazy difficult putt, so that was a big one to make and keep the momentum going.”
Despite a three-putt bogey on the par-5 18th, the former Louisiana Tech Bulldog will begin Friday with a six-shot lead. He has a chance to become the first mid-amateur to claim the Trans-Mississippi Amateur since it welcomed collegiate players back to the event in 2010.
“It validates the things that I’ve been working on,” Busby said. “I am very demanding of myself, and I just want to be as good as I can be. That is what I’m striving for.”
Adam Brady of Perth, Australia played alongside Brady in Round 3. The 18-year-old got off to a slow start with bogeys on the par-4 fifth and par-3 seventh. He closed his nine with a birdie on the par-5 ninth, and got something going. Brady birdied the par-3 10th, par-4 11th, par-5 12th and par-4 13th for five straight.
“I was a couple over through my first eight holes, but I really didn’t hit that many bad shots,” Brady said. “I knew I was close, and that I just needed to hang in there. Those five holes gave me hoops of confidence, and I know I’ll be right there tomorrow.”
Brady kept himself in the championship with five straight birdies in the middle of his round. But, he also had the pleasure of playing alongside Busby. The Australian teenager had nothing but great things to say about the mid-am’s game.
“I don’t think he missed a shot all day,” Brady said. “The guy is just so consistent. He played really well today just a few putts didn’t go in or it would have been another low one. I know he is going to be like that tomorrow, so I am going to have to play really well if I want to catch him.”
Kaiwen Liu, a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, made the biggest move up the leaderboard on Thursday. The 21-year-old began the day nine strokes behind Busby, and he knew he had to play well to give himself a chance at winning.
“I knew I had to go low to even have a shot tomorrow,” Liu said. “I knew the leader wasn’t going to let up based on how he has played this week. Luckily, I got off to a good start.”
Liu birdied the par-4 first out of the gates. After five straight pars, he hit the shot of the day. The downhill par-3 seventh was playing 185 yards. The hole location was tucked in the back-left corner, and it called for a full 7-iron in Liu’s bag.
“I hit it really good and held my finish,” Liu said. “I actually couldn’t see it land, but someone kind of cheered for me. When we pulled out the range finder, we couldn’t see anything and that’s when we knew it was in the hole.”
Liu carded two more birdies en route to a bogey-free 4-under-par 67. He and Brady are tied second at 6-under-par 207. They will be the closest pursuers as they try to catch the man on top, Busby.
Ryan Eshleman of Birmingham, Ala. and Cal McCoy of Highlands Ranch, Colo. are tied fourth at 4-under-par 209. Derek Hitchner of Minneapolis, Minn. and Jansen Preston of Lexington, Ky. are tied sixth at 3-under-par 210. Four players are tied eighth at 2-under-par 211.
ABOUT THE Trans-Miss Championship
The Trans-Miss is one of the oldest and
most storied golf tournaments in the United
For 106 years the championship
was played in a match play format.
Past champions include Jack Nicklaus (1958
and 1959), Charles Coe (1947, 1949, 1952 and
1956), Deane Beman (1960), George Archer
(1963), Ben Crenshaw (1972), Gary Koch
(1973), Bob Tway (1978), Mark Brooks (1978)
and other professional tour notables. In
1987 the championship was changed to a mid-
amateur age requirement, and a senior division
was also added. Starting in 2010, the Trans-
Mississippi Championship, returned to its roots
open amateur tournament, and immediately
established itself as a "must-play" among
top collegiate and mid-am players, while
a 72-hole stroke play format. The field size
144 players from Trans-
Mississippi Golf Association member clubs (or
players receiving a special invitation from the
Championship Committee). After 36 holes, a cut
made to the low 54 and ties who play the final
View Complete Tournament Information