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Great Scott! Abbott Wins 2015 Texas Mid-Amateur

DALLAS—Scott Abbott on Sunday drained a six-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a sudden death playoff against Scott Loving to win the 2015 Texas Mid-Amateur Championship at Royal Oaks Country Club.
Both Abbott, from Dallas, and Conroe’s Loving finished the 54-hole championship at 2-under-par 211. They entered the final round tied for the lead, and both shot 1-over 72s in the final round. Zach Atkinson from Colleyville, the 2004 Texas Amateur champion, finished a shot out of the playoff at 1-under 212. He missed a 60-foot eagle putt on the final round by six inches and finished alone in third place.
The victory was Abbott’s first TGA major championship; he finished tied for eighth place in the 2014 Texas Mid-Amateur. The 33-year-old elementary school physical education teacher was visibly gassed after the emotional playoff.
“This makes me feel extremely blessed and joyful,” said Abbott, who needed a two-footer for birdie on the 54th hole to force the playoff with Loving. “Going into the tournament, I had very low expectations for myself. That always seems to serve me well.”
Smart course management also served Abbott well. After blowing his drive way right on the third playoff hole, his ball came to rest on a cart path just a few yards from out of bounds stakes. He elected to play his third shot from off of the path rather than take a drop and risk an iffy lie in Royal Oaks’ notoriously thick rough. He successfully punched out through the trees and into the fairway, leaving himself 123 yards from the flagstick.
From there, he spun a high-arcing wedge shot back to six feet. After Loving missed his 15-foot birdie attempt, the stage was set for Abbott. But as he stood over the putt, something didn’t feel right. He backed off, again showing his discipline. When he returned to address the putt, he calmly rolled it in.
“It was a right-to-left breaking putt, and it hung on the left edge,” said Abbott, who in July advanced to the Semifinals of the Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship. “I didn’t make it by much.”
For Loving, the ending was his third bout with heartbreak at the Texas Mid-Amateur. Loving also was tied for the 36-hole lead in 2006 and had a three-shot lead headed into the final round of the 2010 Texas Mid-Amateur. He came away without victories in those instances, too.
For much of the final round, it looked to be Loving’s time.
After birdies on the fifth and sixth holes, he built a three-shot lead through eight holes. His momentum crashed, however, into the wide, stone-walled hazard that dissects the ninth fairway. First Loving hit his tee shot into the hazard; he then took a drop and proceeded to hit his third shot into the creek as well.
“I’ve been playing good this whole year,” he said. “I was calm on the front nine and just made one bad swing on the tee ball on No. 9. When I took my drop, I drew a horrible lie. I fatted that shot, it hit a tree and went back in the hazard.”
When he tapped in for a triple-bogey seven, Abbott, Atkinson and Fort Worth’s Will Osborne all were given new life as Loving’s advantage was trimmed to a single shot. With Atkinson and Houston’s Justin Kaplan playing in the group ahead, Abbott, Loving and Osborne spent the next two hours in a duel between the tree-lined fairways of Royal Oaks’ back nine.
Osborne, who finished tied for fourth place at even-par 213, hit several beautiful iron shots but was routinely let down by his putter. On the day, Osborne missed four birdies inside of six feet.
“I hit good putts,” Osborne said. “Honestly, they just weren’t falling today. The greens were great.”
Houston’s Jess Bonneau and Tyler’s Clay Hodge shared fourth place with Osborne. Kaplan finished seventh at 1-over 214; Joshua Irving from Dallas took eighth at 2-over 215, and Fort Worth’s Beau Davis and Austin’s Brian Noonan tied for ninth place.
Early in the week, Abbott, a former SMU golfer, said the tight fairways and smallish, quick greens of Royal Oaks put a premium on driving and playing smart iron shots. In the end, he put enough tee balls in the short grass and judiciously approached the greens to leave him standing alone with the silver Texas Mid-Amateur trophy.
“I’m really proud of myself for hanging in there today,” he said.
The Texas Golf Association extends its most sincere gratitude to Royal Oaks Country Club, its membership, its staff and our volunteers for making the final major championship of the year a memorable event. For more information on the 2015 Texas Mid-Amateur, including complete scoring, please click here.