News from Around the Green

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

Zander Lozano Wins 108th Texas Amateur

DALLAS – Minutes before he teed off Sunday in the final round of the 108th Texas Amateur, Zander Lozano called an audible. That decision proved to be one of the reasons why Lozano pulled away on the back nine to win the most prestigious amateur championship in Texas by four shots.
(For complete scores, click here.)
Lozano, a 21-year-old from Fair Oaks Ranch, carried his own bag for the first three rounds at historic Lakewood Country Club. His longtime friend and former high school teammate Josh Dedmon was on hand to watch, as was Lozano’s mom Cheryl and a handful of friends from the San Antonio area. Used to walking and carrying his bag sans caddie for 36 holes in a day for college tournaments, Lozano didn’t plan on using a caddie at Lakewood.
“My mom grabbed me and asked if I wanted Josh to caddie,” said Lozano, a senior at UT-San Antonio who won twice last season and posted seven top-20 results. “I said, “Why not?” And sure enough, he made a big difference. He kept my mind off golf until the next shot. I was pretty confident throughout the week. I kind of got in the zone today, and it was pretty easy to lock in with Josh on the bag.”
The duo scored a four-shot victory over a talented field on one of the more dramatic golf courses in the state. Lozano shot a final round 4-under-par 67 puncutated by two long birdies down the stretch. He finished the tournament at 10-under 274, four shots clear of the field. But it wasn’t the runaway the margin might indicate.

Former Lakewood member and 2008 Texas Mid-Amateur champion Rob Couture from Dallas was tied with or one shot behind Lozano for much of the final round. Also nipping at Lozano’s heels all day were Levi Valadez, the reigning Byron Nelson Junior champ from San Antonio, Brady Purdom, the 36-hole leader from Friendswood and Jacksonville’s Hunter Shattuck, the Baylor Bear who the 2013 Nelson Junior.
Steady throughout the day, Lozano created a little separation when he ran in a 25-foot birdie on the par-4 15th hole. He widened the gap with an 18-footer for birdie on the dogleg-left, par-5 17th. Playing one group behind Lozano, Couture was one behind after Lozano’s birdie on No. 15. While Lozano lined up his birdie putt on No. 17, Couture suffered a devastating double-bogey on No. 16 when he drove it into a fairway bunker and couldn’t recover.
In the end, Valadez, Purdom and Shattuck tied for second place at 6-under 278. Couture, the low mid-amateur at age 41, settled for fifth place with 5-under 279. Six Lakewood members qualified for the 108th Texas Amateur. Two made the cut; John Stollenwerck scored a top-20 finish at 4-over 288 (T18). 
After Lozano tapped in for par on 18 to win, he was greeted with a huge hug from his mom. His father Omar was back in San Antonio with an elderly relative. Cheryl Lozano kept Omar updated with hole-by-hole text updates.
While the birdie on No. 15 pushed Lozano ahead for good, he and his caddie had an idea something special was afoot about two hours earlier than that. On the 379-yard, par-4 sixth – a tight driving hole with out-of-bounds along the left side – Lozano found the fairway off the tee. His approach shot, however, was a smothered pitching wedge that hit a hardwood left of the green and finished inches from a row of tall hedges that serve as a boundary. Lozano had to wedge himself into the hedges and, with restricted backswing, managed to feather a pitch shot over a front bunker and onto the green. His ball released and rolled up to three feet from the hole.
“Oh, wow,” he said when asked about the sixth hole. “Sometimes it’s your day. I was lucky to have a shot. I did what I could … it was definitely one of the best shots I’ve ever hit under the circumstances. After that, I had a feeling maybe it would be my day.”
It was his day, and now he’s a Texas Amateur champion. His name will be etched onto the H.L. Edwards Memorial Trophy alongside the likes of Ben Crenshaw, Charles Coody, Scott Verplank and Mark Brooks.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “It still hasn’t sunk in yet. I can say that this was one of the best-run championships I’ve ever played in, though. All of the TGA events are.”
As much as Lozano’s caddie loved the par say on No. 6, Dedmon said another turning point came in the middle of the 11th fairway.
“He hit it right down the middle and got stuck in a divot,” Dedmon said. “He hit a great shot from there and made par. That’s where we really maintained our momentum. He’s such a great competitor. No matter what comes his way, he’s able to be resilient and keeps plugging along. He has a great focus.”
This was Lozano’s third start in the Texas Amateur. He finished T23 at the 107th edition last year at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, and T41 in 2015 at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas.
“I’m so excited for him,” Cheryl Lozano said. “I knew he had it in him. We just have so much faith in him. We’re all so very proud of him. He’s worked really hard.”
The Texas Golf Association offers its most sincere gratitude to Lakewood Country Club, its members and staff for their hospitality and generosity not only this week, but for the entire month of June. In addition to the 108th Texas Amateur, the TGA conducted the USGA’s U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Lakewood on June 5. In just a few short days, we’ll be back again when the LJT holds its annual Byron Nelson Junior Championship on the pristine fairways and greens of the Dallas club that continues to raise the bar in its support of amateur golf.
“Our membership gets behind these kinds of events,” said Gilbert Freeman, Lakewood’s esteemed Director of Golf since 1994. “This club supports golf and the golf community. It is a lot for one month, but we wanted to give back to the game.”
Celebrating its 105th anniversary this year, Lakewood has now hosted three Texas Amateurs. Lozano joins Chip Carter (2000) and Ray Kenny (1942) as Texas Amateur champions at Lakewood, a true shot-maker’s course with a reputation for immaculate conditions and superfast greens.
Originally designed by Tom Bendelow in 1912, Ralph Plummer renovated Lakewood in 1947. That was three years after Byron Nelson won the Texas Victory Open by 10 shots. That tournament is known today as the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship. In 1995 and again in 2014, the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw remodeled the timeless gem into the exquisite shape it is today. 
The TGA also extends a hearty thank you to all of our tireless volunteers. More than a dozen passionate golf supporters from across the state traveled to Lakewood this week and logged heavy hours to help create a memorable experience for all of the competitors and their families and friends.
The 109th Texas Amateur heads south to Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity. Between now and then, the TGA will continue to set the national pace in bringing world-class championships to the best amateurs in Texas. For more information on the 108th Texas Amateur, click here.