Central Texas golf:
DOUG SMITH | CENTRAL TEXAS GOLF
Scott Roudebush back to defend his Firecracker Open title
You can’t miss the huge sign situated between the first tee and the pro shop at Lions Municipal. It gives a brief history of the Firecracker Open and in letters about a foot high, displays the name of the current champion.
Scott Roudebush, the 2009 champion, gets a warm, fuzzy feeling every time he sees his name there.
“I usually take a towel with me to clean it off,” Roudebush said. “Just kidding. But it is a very special feeling to walk up at Muny and see your name up there like that. The Firecracker is a very unique, historical tournament at a very special course, and it gives me a great feeling of pride to see my name up there.”
The Firecracker Open will be held Friday through Sunday at Muny. It is always a terrific show, but it will be difficult to top what happened last year, when Roudebush defeated Matt Smith in a playoff that lasted eight holes and took an extra day to complete.
Last year’s final round began with 15 players within five shots of the lead, but at the end it was Roudebush and Smith left standing at 13-under-par 200. Six holes into a sudden-death playoff, it was still all-square, and at 9 p.m. play was suspended because of darkness.
The playoff resumed the following morning, when Roudebush and Smith each made par on the first hole. It finally ended on the par-5 second, where Smith missed a 20-foot putt for birdie and Roudebush took the title by getting up and in for birdie from just off the green.
“That was so much fun and it was really exciting,” Roudebush said. “It was really just a coin flip as to which of us would win it. Matt and I are friends and have played a lot of golf together. We are both glad the way it turned out in that somebody did something to win it instead of somebody doing something to lose it.”
Roudebush, an Austin native who graduated from Austin High, will finish his senior season this year at TCU. That’s still pretty young, but he has a perspective about the Firecracker and Muny.
“If you grow up playing golf in Austin, this course, Muny, and this tournament mean an awful lot,” Roudebush said. “The tournament and the course are so full of history and tradition. And now with the future of Muny in question, I guess it all means that much more. We never know when it will be the last Firecracker at Muny.”
Roudebush is not a history major at TCU, but he’s up on Austin golf history, and it is a source of pride, he said, to now be a part of it.
“I mean, look at the list of winners,” Roudebush said. “It’s a pretty good feeling to have your name on a list that includes (Tom) Kite and (Ben) Crenshaw. Even before I played in the Firecracker I would go out and watch (Billy) Clagett, (Tim) Wilson, Omar (Uresti), (Michael) Cooper and others. Now, to get to play with those guys is so great, and to be on that list of winners here gives me a great sense of accomplishment.”
Roudebush is coming off a tie for 14th at last week’s Texas State Amateur at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas. As the defending Firecracker champion, he is on a short list of favorites this weekend, but Roudebush is savvy enough to know that anything can happen.
“The way Muny plays there are dozens of guys who can win,” he said. “That’s one of the things that makes the Firecracker great. You will see guys in contention who are in high school and some in their 50s or 60s. Playing together and competing together. I really like that.
“The course is special. The tournament is special. The people playing in it and running it are special. It’s great competition, but it’s so much more. It’s so much fun on and off the course with so many interesting people, and I always look forward to it.”
Scott Roudebush won last year’s Firecracker Open, beating Matt Smith in an eight-hole playoff that stretched into a second day.