Category: Amateur Golf
By Richard Dean
Buzz Baker vividly remembers the 3 ½-foot putt he missed in a 2007 playoff on the 18th green at Memorial Park Golf Course that denied him an opportunity to win the men’s city amateur championship.
On Sunday, on the same green and facing a putt of similar distance on the same side of the hole, Baker sealed the deal to capture the 2017 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship.
“Close to the same putt I missed 10 years ago and I wasn’t going to miss it this time,” said the 55-year-old Baker, who was eligible for the senior tournament this year for the first time.
Actually Baker’s lead was substantial enough that he could have missed that final putt on the No. 18 hole and won easily. Baker shot a final-round 5-under-par 67 on Sunday for a 5-under-par 211 to win the 54-hole tournament by 5 shots over runner-up Gary Durbin, who was at even-par 216.
Scott Smith finished third at 1-over-par 217 and Hunter Nelson was fourth at 2-over-par 218 in the tournament conducted by the Houston Golf Association.
Baker broke from the pack atop the leaderboard and distanced himself from the contenders with four consecutive birdies on holes 14-17.
“It’s very humbling,” said Baker, a mortgage banker for Houston-based Network Funding, LP. “Great people out here, kind of the same fraternity of guys over the years. A bunch of great people. I’m usually happy for the other guys so it’s really nice to be on the receiving end for once.”
Durbin, Nelson and Marshall Piper were all tied at 2-under going into Sunday’s final round. At the conclusion of the round, Piper was assessed a 4-shot penalty for having 15 clubs in his bag. With the penalty, Piper was at 4-over-par 220, and a share of seventh place.
Durbin, who won this event in 2012 and is a two-time Houston city am winner, shot rounds of 70-72-74.
“I’m very pleased with the second-place finish,” said the 60-year-old Durbin, an All-America golfer at Penn State in 1979. “When you’re leading, you’d like to finish it off. Today was an opportunity to win the senior twice.”
The tournament was close until the final five holes. Baker was playing two groups ahead of the final twosome of Durbin and Piper, who opened Friday’s first round with a 69. And then the ever-popular Baker turned up the heat.
“I hit a good drive on 13 and didn’t birdie 13,” Baker said. “So I said, ‘Gosh, we’re going to have to birdie the hard ones.’“
On the 14th hole, Baker hit his approach about 6 feet above the hole. On 15 and 16 respectively, he placed his approach shots about 18 inches and 10 inches from the hole. And his uncanny shot making continued when the former Stephen F. Austin golfer’s second shot on No. 17 stopped 6 feet of the pin.
“Catching Buzz was tough duty today,” said Smith, who had rounds of 75-69-73. “That’s awesome to bear down and get it done. It’s awesome to be in the moment and actually perform and get it done. That’s exceptional. That’s impressive.”
Baker, who plays out of Shadow Hawk Golf Club, carded rounds of 71-73-67.
“Buzz has been a very good, long-time amateur here,” said Durbin, a deputy chief commercial officer of TMK IPSCO, a global steel pipe company, and who plays out of Champions Golf Club. “Very good player, very steady.
“He got it going. At Memorial, the greens are so good, you can make some putts here. You just have to be hitting the ball well. Today, 5-under is very strong. It was the toughest day to score.”
Baker is a popular player among the amateur golfers in the Houston area. Other golfers were complimentary of Baker’s round and were sincerely happy for him in his prestigious win.
“He’s a fine man and he’s a great guy and everybody likes him,” said the 58-year-old Smith, who is retired from the oil and gas business, and plays out of Northgate Country Club. “He’s a good player, so I’m pleased for him.
“Houston is a very tough place to compete. Whether it’s the city am or trying to qualify for a USGA event. It’s tough. There are a number of good players in Houston.”
Three players are tied for the lead at two-under par going into the final round of the the 2017 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship. There is sure to be a shoot out on Sunday when 2012 champion Gary Durbin (70-72), Marshall Piper (69-73) and Hunter Nelson (69-73) tee it off at Memorial Park Golf Course. Scott Smith and Buzz Baker still in contention as they enter the final round tied for 4th at even par.
In the Super Senior division, Chuck Reeve from Houston wins the 2017 Greater Houston Super Senior City Amateur Championship. Chuck defeated Gordon Norwood on the first playoff hole. After finishing their final rounds at even par, Reeve defeated Gordon Norwood on the first playoff hole. The top two battled each other and the tough rough at Memorial Park Golf Course for 37 holes. David Leestma from Seabrook finished in third with a two-day total 145.
Justin Kaplan continued his strong play in round two. He followed up his bogey free 65 with a second round 68 which included five birdies. The 2015 Greater Houston City Amateur champion Matt Van Zandt also kept his impressive play going and remains in second after a second round 69, which included an eagle and three birdies. Devaughn Robinson and Chris Causey are lurking back in third and fourth place respectively.
The final day concludes today with rounds three and four and is sure to provide a great shootout. Follow live scoring here.
Justin Kaplan shot 6-under par to take at two-stroke lead over 2015 Champion Matt Van Zandt at the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur at Memorial Park Golf Course. A.J. Vesey and Devaughn Robinson of Houston both shot 69. Todd Albert of Katy, Nick Marlow, Chris Causey, Jess Bonneau, and former Houston Golf Association Junior Golfer and 2017 Eddie Burke Senior Young Houstonian champion Henry Fisher all carded a one-under, 70.
The field of 144 will be cut to the low 40 scorers and ties after Saturday’s second round to set the stage for a 36-hole finale on Sunday.
HOUSTON, TX (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) – Broc Haymon of Pearland matched the tournament scoring record en route to a 3-shot victory over 2014 champion John Hunter in the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course. Haymon carded rounds of 72-65-68-70 for a 9-under-par 275 total. Hunter, runner-up the past two years after setting the 72-hole scoring record, posted rounds of 70-67-70-71.
Haymon, 28, and Hunter,32, were tied at 5-under after two rounds when the starting field of 144 was cut to the low 40 scorers and ties for the 36-hole Sunday finale. A total of 46 players made the cut with a score of 8-over-par 150.
Haymon opened a 3-shot lead over Hunter Saturday morning after three rounds. The former college baseball player led the field with 20 birdies over four rounds.
Grant Schroeder of Montgomery, whose father Ron won this championship five times, finished third at 4-under-par 280. Normally a par-72 layout, Memorial Park is set up as a par-71 for the Men’s Amateur.
Kyle Maxwell of The Woodlands and 18-year-old Walker Lee, the first-round leader, shared fourth place at even-par 284. A pair of 16-year-olds Shuai Ming Wong of The Woodlands and Ransom Jacobson of Humble shared sixth place at 285, a stroke better than Clint White, 26, of Friendswood.
Bart Worthing, 36, of Weston Lakes, the 2012 champion, finished at 287 and Devaughn Robinson, 28, rounded out the Top 10 at 288. The top 10 finishers and champions since 2011 are exempt for the 2017 event.
Defending champion Matt Van Zandt shot 293 and tied for 17th.
HOUSTON, TX (Oct. 9-11, 2015) – Mike Booker shot 72-66-69 for a 9-under-par 207 total to win the Greater Houston Senior Men’s Championship for the second time in three years. Booker was three shots clear of Marshall Piper of Cypress, who shot 69-70-71. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX (Oct. 2-4, 2015) – Matt Van Zandt shot 70-71 on Sunday to win the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course by two shots over defending champion John Hunter. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX (October 12, 2014) – David Pocknall of Katy shot 71-71-73 for a 1-under-par 215 total to win the Greater Houston Senior Men’s Amateur Championship by 3 strokes at Memorial Park Golf Course. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX (October 5, 2014) – John Hunter never looked back as he recorded a 9-shot victory at the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX (October 17, 2010) – Jerry Hudgins captured his third Greater Houston Senior Men’s Amateur championship and Wayne Harris of Missouri City won the Super Senior Division at Memorial Park Golf Course. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX – (October 10,2010) – Kip Guidry of Missouri City birdied the final hole to avoid a playoff and win his second Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course. Read More »
Hunter Nelson of Houston shot 70-74 for an even-par 144 total and a one-stroke victory in the 2009 Greater Houston Senior Amateur Championship at Memorial Park. Doyle Sturman of Montgomery shot 76-72–148 to capture the Super Senior Division for golfers 65-and-over. Read More »
Owen Joyner, a 52-year-old resident of Montgomery, shot 69-68-76-69 to win the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course. His 2-over-par 282 total was three shots better than runner-up Andy Cooper of The Woodlands, who carded 69-70-74-72. Read More »