News from Around the Green

The latest golf-related news, notes, and feature stories from the TGA.

Craig Hurlbert Leads 83rd Texas Senior Amateur through 36 Holes

WACO – Craig Hurlbert from Magnolia is 18 holes away from his fifth amateur victory of the year. He says the key for him to win the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur on Sunday at Ridgewood Country Club is to think inside the box.

Despite missing a couple short putts at the end of his round on Saturday, Hurlbert posted a 3-over-par 73 in the second round of the 54-hole major championship. Combined with his strong 69 in Friday’s opening round, Hurlbert sits at 2-over 142 overall, two shots clear of the field. The No. 1-ranked senior amateur in the country said Saturday’s swirling winds made playing conditions tough.

As for his Sunday strategy, it’s a simple routine that has worked for him four times this year. The process yielded Hurlbert trophies at the Old Corkscrew Senior Championship, Gateway Senior Invitational, Montana State Senior Amateur and the Golfweek Senior Match Play.

“I just have to play like I’m playing with my friends back home,” said Hurlbert, a 58-year-old venture capitalist. “I just have to stick to my routine. Because inside that box of my routine, it’s the same whether I’m in the final round here or you and I are playing on a Monday morning somewhere. It’s all about the routine and keeping things simple.”

Second place belongs to Westworth Village’s Hollis Sullivan, who turned in the round of the day. The 63-year-old veteran amateur who works in the energy business battled through the stiff breezes to roll in five birdies for a 2-under 68. The low score rocketed him 37 spots up the leaderboard. Sullivan was T39 after his 76 in Round 1.

Now he’s two shots out of the lead headed into Sunday’s final round.

“It was windier today. Even though I played late yesterday, it was windy pretty early today,” said Sullivan, who finished T5 last month in the Senior Division of the Texas Four-Ball Championship. “The greens are running really fast. I’m just glad I played good today. Just one shot at time. I’ve been working on my swing a little bit, and it worked out pretty well today.”

Tied for third place at 5-over 145 are Southlake’s Mike Lohner and John Derrick of Waco. Lohner, fresh off his Trans-Mississippi Senior Four-Ball Championship on Tuesday, shot 73 at Ridgewood on Saturday. Derrick, a Ridgewood member and eight-time club champion, posted a 75 in the second round.

Four players share fifth place, a group that includes 2017 Texas Senior Amateur winner Ed Brooks from Fort Worth.

Fifty-four players advanced through the 36-hole cut at 14-over 154.

With the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Waco, the 1947 Ralph Plummer-designed Ridgewood course continues to challenge the most talented senior amateurs in the state. Its tight, rolling fairways often produce uneven lies even on good drives. That can make hitting precise approach shots into Ridgewood’s elevated bentgrass greens challenging to say the least.

In Friday’s opening round, the 144 competitors in the field played to a scoring average of 78.53. There were 62 players who failed to break 80. With Saturday’s stronger winds blowing 10-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph, the conditions wreaked havoc on wayward shots.

“One bad swing or bad decision, and double bogey is in play on every hole,” Brooks said.

The seniors played Ridgewood at 6,441 yards on Saturday; the scoring average was 78.91.

The final round of the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur begins Sunday at 8 a.m. For more information, click here.