Ryan O’Rear wins 39th Texas Mid-Amateur
Of all the tournaments Georgetown’s Ryan O’Rear has won in his life – probably more than 30, including junior golf – this one was different. A lot different. Playing for more than himself, O’Rear on Sunday scored an emotional, one-shot victory in the 39th Texas Mid-Amateur on the South Course at Abilene Country Club.

“This wasn’t for me. This one was for Jackson,” he said with watery eyes. “Man, I tried so hard today. I just wanted to get this one for him.”

Back home, the 11-year-old son of O’Rear’s best friend was diagnosed with leukemia about a week ago. He’s been in and out of the hospital since then. Some good days, some not as good. Sunday will go down as one of the good ones after O’Rear posted a 54-hole score of 11-under-par 205 to win the year’s final major championship by one shot over Colleyville’s Zach Atkinson.

“Let’s go!” O’Rear shouted into his phone as he FaceTimed Jackson minutes after he won. “That was for you, buddy!”

O’Rear also was bolstered by having his wife Tara, dad Randy, and a few good friends in attendance on Sunday. They were treated to quite a show.

O’Rear and Atkinson were tied when they reached the 18th tee. O’Rear hammered a drive down the left side of the fairway. Atkinson pushed his drive a tad. His ball ended up near a tree on the right side; it forced him to lay up on the closing par 5.

O’Rear, meanwhile, seized the moment. He flushed a hybrid from 241 yards, a piercing cut shot that finished about four feet from the hole. He two-putted for the win.

“I love hitting my hybrid, especially with a little cut,” said O’Rear, who also won the 37th Texas Mid-Amateur in 2020. “It was a perfect number for me. I blocked it just a little, but it worked out.”

Earlier in the day, the final round had the feel of a potential shootout that would feature half a dozen players. Birdies were flying like hotcakes; three different players shot 6-under 30s on the front nine. The South Course toughened up on the back nine, but still the leaderboard got crowded. At one point, there was a four-way tie for the lead at 8-under between O’Rear, Atkinson, Addison’s Chris Wheeler, and defending champion Freddie Janneck from Fort Worth.

As the leaders made their way down the final stretch, O’Rear and Atkinson separated themselves from the pack. Atkinson, the 2004 Texas Amateur champion, holed out a pitch shot from 30 yards for birdie on the par-4 12th hole to pull even with O’Rear at 9-under par.

The two gritty competitors traded birdies on No. 13, then Atkinson drained a 30-footer for birdie on the 15th to move ahead by a shot. After pars on the beautiful par-3 16th, Atkinson found trouble down the left side with his drive on the difficult par-4 17th hole. That led to a bogey. O’Rear made a slippery, 6-foot par save on No. 17 to set up the drama on the 18th.

“He hit one of the best shots I’ve seen in my life on the last hole,” said Atkinson, who won Mid-Masters honors for the lowest score by a player aged 40 or older. “That’s what it takes to win. It was a heck of a shot.”

Atkinson turned in a three-day total of 10-under 206. He shot 4-under 68 on Sunday, which included five birdies and an eagle. Wheeler, the Texas Player of the Year in 2019-20, took third place at 9-under 207. Janneck, who was attempting to become the first back-to-back Texas Mid-Amateur winner since San Antonio’s Colby Harwell did it 2017-18, represented himself well with a fourth-place finish at 8-under 208. Janneck posted a 4-under 68 in the final round.

Colby Amparan from Fort Worth took fifth place at 6-under 210. Amparan was one of the players who caught fire on the front nine. He made birdies on the third, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth holes to shoot 30 going out. Amparan finished at 6-under 66.

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ABOUT THE Texas Mid-Amateur

Eligibility: Entries are open to male golfers with a USGA Handicap index of 8.4 or less, and who are 25 years of age or older by the first day of championship qualifying.

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 of age)

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