News | Houston Golf Association
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.
Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Houston Golf Association pledges $50,000 to the KPRC Red Cross fund to support ongoing relief efforts. Giving back is at the core of the volunteer members of the Houston Golf Association and we will continue to look for ways to help Houston communities as our resilient city begins the work to come back better than ever.
Fans, players, tournaments can help flood victims at Dell Technologies Championship and via “Together, anything’s possible”
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and Norton, Massachusetts (August 30, 2017) – PGA TOUR professional and Houston resident Chris Stroud led an announcement today from the TOUR’s Dell Technologies Championship, pledging support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey and the resulting flooding. Stroud committed $10,000 toward the relief efforts and plans to add an additional 10 percent of his earnings from this week’s event. TOUR players, fans and tournaments can further assist the American Red Cross through PGA TOUR Charities’ Together, anything’s possible platform. Additionally, fans on site at this week’s event in Norton, Massachusetts – where players will wear red, white and blue ribbons (colors of the Texas flag) to raise awareness – can donate via kiosks in the Dell Technologies Championship Fan Experience. Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast on Friday, August 25, and torrential rainfall has submerged thousands of homes and forced unprecedented evacuations.
“It has been a tough week, but in some ways a very rewarding week,” said Stroud. He is one of the more than 30 players on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and Web.com Tour who live in the Houston community, and the area is also home to the PGA TOUR’s Houston Open and the Insperity Invitational on PGA TOUR Champions. “To see all the people and organizations around the country eager to pitch in and help is inspiring. I hope the efforts of the PGA TOUR and my fellow players will spur more people to join in and help make a difference to those who are in need.”
Fans wishing to assist in the relief and recovery efforts can stop by the Dell Technologies Championship Fan Experience, or by making donations through PGA TOUR Charities’ “Together, anything’s possible” website by clicking on the red GIVE button. Starting on August 30, all donations via the site will be distributed to American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief. Additionally, fans can make donations directly through the American Red Cross by visiting www.redcross.org or by texting HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
“Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by this terrible storm and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, who pledged $250,000 on behalf of the TOUR to the American Red Cross. “We hope our collective efforts help bring comfort and aid to the victims and that it will spur our players, tournaments and fans to join the cause and help out.”
“Thanks to the generosity of the PGA TOUR and its partners, the Red Cross will be able to continue to provide our needed services to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Currently, Red Cross is focusing on providing safe shelter and feeding people. After the storm passes, we will be offering emotional support, health services, and distributing emergency relief supplies such as comfort kits and cleaning supplies. Red Cross plays a critical role in helping families and communities get back on their feet and we are very grateful for PGA TOUR’s support,” said Anna Trefethen, Vice President Humanitarian Services Southeast & Caribbean Division.
About Together, anything’s possible
Together, anything’s possible, is the PGA TOUR’s charity platform that brings together all of the TOUR’s stakeholders – players, tournaments and sponsors, volunteers, charities and fans – to tell the story of the tremendous impact that their collective efforts are having on communities throughout the world.
Since the first donation of $10,000 was made in 1938, PGA TOUR events have generated significant funds for local charities. In fact, the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Web.com Tour have surpassed the $2.46 billion mark in overall charitable contributions.
To learn more about tournament and player charities and how to donate to these causes, visit the PGA TOUR’s charity web site at www.pgatour.com/together.
Houston Golf Association Re-Elects Board Chair and Officers; Names General Chair for 2018 Houston Open
HOUSTON (August 8, 2017) – Houston Golf Association held its annual election meeting at the Dick Harmon Learning Center on August 7, 2017 and announced new and returning members to its board of directors. Meg Leachman, who served as board chair in 2017, will serve a second term as board chair for 2017-2018. Re-elected for a second term were board officers John O. Armour, Jeff Miers and Michael Sandeen. Mike Yeager will serve a second year as general chair of the 2018 Houston Open. Long-time HGA members Rob Hungate and Henry Noey were elected to the board. For a complete listing of the 2017-2018 board of directors, click here.
Steve Timms is the president and CEO of Houston Golf Association and oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization and the Houston Golf Association employees.
Houston Golf Association
For 70 years, Houston Golf Association has organized high-profile professional and amateur golf events in the Greater Houston area to support its mission to make a difference in Houston and in the lives of youth through its charitable programs. The HGA, a not-for-profit, tax exempt 501c (3) organization, is a prolific charitable fundraiser, bolstered by a strong group of members and volunteers. Visit www.hga.org for more information.