Aaron Hickman and Rory Smith (Texas Golf Association Photo)
LONGVIEW – Aaron Hickman and Rory Smith of Tyler won the 48th Texas Four-Ball on Sunday at Pinecrest Country Club. The local natives, who finished at 17-under 193 total, defeated Anthony Estorga and Jake Istnick in a three-hole playoff. This is Hickman’s fourth Texas Four-Ball title and Smith’s first.
Hickman and Smith came into Sunday’s final round six shots back of Istnick and Estorga but vaulted up the leaderboard with a scorching 8-under 62 to force the playoff. Smith had an impressive seven birdies to pace the team.
On the third playoff hole, the par-4 12th, Hickman threw a dart to four feet on his approach shot. It was a similar length putt to the one he had to win on the first playoff hole. This time, however, Hickman calmly sank it and capped it off with a fist pump.
“We played spectacular and made a ton of birdies all three days, especially on Saturday and Sunday,” Hickman said. “We birdied the last three holes in regulation, so it was a lot of pats on the back for Rory.”
Of Smith’s impressive seven birdies on Sunday, three of them came on the final three holes of regulation.
“We stayed mentally ready and knew we had a chance,” Smith said. “Aaron’s won a bunch of TGA events. This will be my first victory, and I’ll forever be in the annals of the TGA as a champion, so I’m pretty pleased.”
Even after four Texas Four-Ball titles (2011, 2012, 2015), Hickman still understands what it means to win a state championship in Texas.
“It’s always hard to win so when you do win, it’s great,” Hickman said. “I’m glad Rory got his first win. He can win a lot of these if he chooses to. Winning is hard so anytime you get to do that, it’s good.”
The TCU product has been having a fantastic year as he recently captured the Mid-Am Match Play title back in July.
Finishing runner-up, it was a valiant effort from 36-hole leaders Istnick and Estorga. The duo carded a final round 2-under 68 to finish at 17-under for the tournament. They had steadily maintained their lead throughout the final round until the par-4 16th where they made bogey to drop back into a tie with Hickman and Smith.
At 15-under 195 total for the tournament, there was a three-way tie between Casey Carnes of Shertz and Michael Carnes of New Braunfels, Addison’s Chris Wheeler and Derek Abel of Dallas, and Tyler’s Seth Murphy and Dallas’ Scott Maurer.
Georgetown’s Doug Northcutt and Brent Barclay of Santa Fe captured the Senior Division win behind a final round 3-under 67. The team finished at 14-under 196 total and were thrilled to capture the title.
“It’s a big deal to win a state title,” Barclay said.
Despite starting their final round 2-over through six holes, Northcutt and Barclay knew if they hung in there, they’d have a chance.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for ten years,” Northcutt explained. “Neither of us have ever competed in a statewide event with the TGA. It means a lot.”
New Braunfels’ Terrence Miskell and Titus Harris of Houston earned runners-up honors after finishing at 13-under 197 total for the tournament. A final round 5-under 65 left them one shot shy of forcing a playoff.
Pinecrest Country Club’s own Bruce Smith and his partner Rob Willbanks of Kilgore shared third place with Montgomery’s Scott Smith and William Shock of Houston.
In the Super Senior Division, Irving’s Michael Puls and Houston’s Tom Burns repeated as Super Senior Division Champions of the Texas Four-Ball after finishing at 10-under for the tournament. The back-to-back winners won in a playoff over Wichita Falls’ Bill Holstead and John Grace of Fort Worth.
“We had a really fun time,” Puls said. “You guys do a great job. We appreciate everything the TGA does. It makes it easy for us to just show up and play, and everything’s taken care of.”
This was the first TGA championship held at Pinecrest Country Club, which recently marked its 100th anniversary. The Texas Golf Association would like to extend a big thank you to their entire staff and membership for allowing us to host this year’s championship at their facilities.View results for Texas Four-Ball
ABOUT THE Texas Four-Ball
Eligibility: Entries are open to male
amateur golfers age 25 or older as of
the first round of tournament play, with
a certified USGA Handicap Index of 8.4
or less. Please reference “TGA State
Championship Eligibility” at
www.txga.org for additional eligibility
Format: Scheduled for 54 holes of
Four–Ball Stroke Play.
The field is limited to 80 teams, as outlined below:
Championship: 25 & Over (48 teams)
Senior: 55 & Over (20 teams)
Super Senior: 65 & Over (12 teams)
View Complete Tournament Information