Cen­tral Texas golf:

DOUG SMITH | CEN­TRAL TEXAS GOLF

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

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.”

Jay Jan­ner

Scott Roude­bush won last year’s Fire­cracker Open, beat­ing Matt Smith in an eight-hole play­off that stretched into a sec­ond day.

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