News from Around the Green

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

Manor Takes Early Lead at 104th Texas Amateur

(Houston, TX) Thursday’s opening round of the 104th
Texas Amateur Championship presented by Insperity saw one hundred and
forty-four of Texas’ top amateur golfers begin their journey in chasing down the
coveted title of Texas Amateur Champion and hoisting the H.L. Edwards trophy. Playing
just shy of 7,100 yards, the par 72 Lakeside Country Club welcomed players from
across the state with pristine fairways and near flawless greens creating a
backdrop primed for this storied championship. Consisting of both a morning and
afternoon wave of players, Thursday provided a myriad of excitement as several
players made early charges toward the top of the leaderboard.

Houston native and Redstone Golf Club member, John Hunter,
opened his morning round with a birdie on the par-3 tenth hole before quickly
adding three more within his first six holes. “It’s a fair course”, Hunter
stated, “It’s about getting the ball on the right part of the fairway so that
you can get it to the right part of the green” and he was successful in doing
just that. Carding an opening nine of three under par thirty-two, Hunter,
playing in his first Texas Amateur, continued his stellar play carding two more
birdies on his first three holes of the back nine. Looking unstoppable, Hunter’s
momentum stumbled when he found trouble on the par-3 fourth which resulted in a
double-bogey, five. A bogey on his last hole gave Hunter an opening round of
three under par, 69. Also carding a morning round of three under par was the
2012 North Player of the Year, Mike Calef, whose round consisted of three
bogeys and six birdies, four of which came on his closing eight holes. Defending Texas Amateur champion, Thomas Birdsey,
looked to come out strong in defense of his title and finds himself tied for twelfth
after an opening round of two under par, 70.

Two players found themselves sitting atop the leaderboard
after the morning rounds had completed. Wesley McClain of Diboll and Lewis
Stephenson of Mansfield both carded opening rounds of five under par, 67. “Hitting
the fairway off the tee is very important”, McClain stated “I hit 17 greens
today and when you do that your chances of going low are pretty good.” McClain,
who plays for the University of Houston, is playing in his second Texas Amateur
with a field that consists of seven of his collegiate teammates. “It’s fun
playing with my teammates out here. We’ve got a stacked team.” Matching McClains 67 was Lewis Stephenson who got
things going early posting three birdies in his first four holes. “I was very
fortunate today because I got the speed of the greens very quickly.” At 53
years old, Stephenson comes into the Amateur with the main focus of making the
cut. “There are so many good young players here. It’s very exciting and very
humbling at the same time because there is always that next big name to show up
on the leaderboard.” With his wife caddying for him, Stephenson is just trying
to enjoy his time at Lakeside this week and “do one for the old guys.”

Heading into the afternoon rounds, players knew that low
scores were accessible. Battling the same heat and humidity that the morning
wave faced, the last several groups of the afternoon also faced a suspension of
play due to inclement weather in the area. After a 45 minute delay play was
resumed and the final ten groups were able to head back on course to complete
their rounds.

Houston local Stephen Marland looked to make his run at the
morning leaders from the very beginning. After back to back birdies to open his
round, Marland followed up a bogey on the par 3 fourth hole with two more back
to back birdies. After four straight
pars on the back Marland added birdies at holes fourteen and sixteen to post a
five under par, 67, placing him in a tie for second. Marland along with Lewis Stephenson
and Wesley McClain find themselves chasing round one leader, Doug Manor. Manor,
who currently lives in Austin, took charge of Lakeside Country Club posting an
opening round of seven under par, 65. His blemish free round included seven
birdies and not a single bogey. “I was able to keep it in play all day and only
missed a few fairways”, Manor stated. Hitting the ball well off the tee was a
start but Manor’s stellar performance around the greens is what allowed him to
post such a great opening round. ”I putted extremely well making three or four
long putts and then chipped in several times when I missed the green. I’ve been
playing a lot of golf lately and feel that if I can stay rested this week there
shouldn’t be much I need to change.” Manor heads into tomorrow’s holding a two
shot lead over three players tied for second and a total of twenty-three
players who posted under par opening rounds.