Charlie Stevens wins High Plains Amateur
By BRETT MARSHALL
Wichitan Charlie Stevens is no stranger to high-level amateur golf.
After all, when you've won a Kansas Amateur championship at Prairie Dunes, and as a teenager the Kansas Junior, and are part of one of Kansas' top golfing families, then success is no stranger.
But even with all that history, Stevens was somewhat surprised when he walked off the 18th green on Sunday at The Golf Club at Southwind with a two-shot victory in the 19th High Plains Amateur Championship.
His second consecutive round of 72, shot in a steady wind that blew 20-25 mph with gusts up to 30 mph, enabled him to finish at 2-over-par 144 for the 36-hole event. His son, Sam, one of the promising young players in Kansas and himself a Kansas Am finalist this summer, shot a final round 69 to tie at 146 with another Wichitan, Jack Courington, who struggled with a 76 in the blustery conditions.
Now playing a limited tournament schedule, the elder Stevens said he probably hadn't won a stroke play tournament in nearly 20 years.
"I've played out here a couple of times, probably finishing in the top 10, but nothing like this," Stevens said. "The last time I played here, the wind didn't blow at all. I hit it really good and drove the ball well."
Entering the final day, Stevens was tied for second with defending champion and Garden Citian Grant Vollertsen behind Courington, who had fired a 1-under-par 70 on Saturday, which was also played in windy conditions.
"Jack really had me all day, and the key was (No.) 18," Stevens said. "He probably pulled the wrong club out off the tee, and then I made a 30-footer for birdie."
That birdie allowed Stevens to overtake Courington, whose double-bogey six cost him the one-shot advantage going into the final hole.
Stevens was philosophical in knowing that he had bested his son, who has committed to play at Oklahoma State upon graduation next spring from Wichita Kapaun.
"It really makes me nervous, especially if I'm playing with him or in a group ahead or behind him," Stevens said. "He probably feels like he could have won."
Indeed, the younger Stevens was rolling along at 5-under for his Sunday round when he teed off on the par-5 14th. But a bogey there was followed by a double bogey on the par-5 15th, when he lost his ball on his tee shot. He then bogeyed the 16th. He birdied the 17th, but it was too little, too late.
In the Senior Division (Age 50 and over), Tracy Chamberlin of Wichita shot 70-72--142 to easily win that competition. Lakin's Bob Beymer was second at 151 (78-73) while John Pierce of San Antonio, Texas, was third at 152 (76-76). In the Masters Division (Age 35 to 49), Zac Burton of Manhattan shot 70-74--144 to win by two shots over Garden City's Shawn Audrain (70-76--146). Russell Holzbauer of Kansas City, Mo., was third at 147 (70-77).