News from Around the Green

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

Scott Smith Leads after Round 1 at 85th Texas Senior Amateur

HOUSTON – Montgomery’s Scott Smith fired an opening round 4-under 67 to take the early lead at Champions Golf Club’s Jackrabbit Course. Smith tallied up six birdies on the day including four on his front nine.

Smith, who recently finished tied for fifth in the Senior Division at the Texas Four-Ball in August, holds a one-shot lead over two others headed into Saturday’s second round of the 54-hole stroke play major championship.

“I hit it close a few times today and putted it really well,” said Smith, who finished T-15 at the 83rd Texas Senior Amateur in 2020. “I made a good number of putts when I had to and was just very successful on the greens.”

As he looks ahead to the weekend, Smith mentioned wanting to keep his driver in the fairway a little bit more and continue to keep his putter hot.

Great weather was enjoyed by all during Friday’s first round as temperatures began at a little over 70 degrees and never got higher than 92.

Chuck Gardner of Texarkana and San Antonio’s John Pierce will enter the second round just one shot back of Smith after carding rounds of 3-under 68.

Sitting two shots back of the lead via rounds of 2-under 69 are Austin’s John McClure, New Braunfels’ Terrence Miskell, and Burleson’s Lewis Stephenson.

“I was just real consistent today,” Stephenson said. “I’ve been kind of struggling with that the past couple of weeks. Today was a consistent day of striking the ball well and managing the golf course. It’s a great course, but you have to manage the course – where you are and where you play on the greens.”

Stephenson made it to match play at the U.S. Senior Amateur just a couple of weeks ago and will look to build upon his already strong year on the course.

Three shots back in a five-way tie for seventh via opening rounds of 1-under 70 are San Antonio’s Bobby Baugh, Bill Jackson of Van Alstyne, Jeff Stafford of Flower Mound, Dallas’ Mark Motes, and Amarillo’s Kyle Kelting. Notably, Kelting was runner-up in last year’s championship and won the Texas Father-Son back in July for the third consecutive year.

This is Champions second TGA Championship to host having previously hosted the 2006 Texas Mid-Amateur. The northwest Houston gem has also welcomed many of our USGA Championship Qualifiers. Champions has hosted numerous USGA Championships, PGA Tour Championships, and a Ryder Cup. Most recently, Champions hosted the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open. The Jackrabbit Course was used alongside the Cypress Creek Course for the first two rounds.

Champions Golf Club was founded in 1957 by World Golf Hall of Fame members Jack Burke Jr. and the late Jimmy Demaret. Located approximately 20 miles northwest of downtown Houston, Champions features 36 holes that weave through a rolling landscape of tall pine trees, creeks, and waterways. Designed by Ralph Plummer, the Cypress Creek Course opened in 1959, followed by the Jackrabbit Course designed by George Fazio, which opened in 1964 and is the course being used for this week’s Championship. Tom Fazio, George’s nephew, supervised a renovation of the Jackrabbit Course in 2002. Chet Williams led a renovation of the Cypress Creek Course in 2018.

During Thursday night’s Players’ Reception, Lewis Stephenson received his 2021 Texas Senior Player of the Year award. In 2021, Stephenson finished in a tie for sixth at the Texas Senior Amateur, made it to the round of 16 in the U.S. Senior Amateur, and finished runner-up in the Senior Division of the West Texas Amateur.

“It means a lot. Texas is so strong in golf,” Stephenson said when asked about the award. “Being able to do that with my friends and peers meant a lot.”

The second round of the 85th Texas Senior Amateur starts Saturday at 8 a.m. For more information, click here.