Nolen, 15, wins title on third extra hole
three-foot par putt beats roudebush
What a difference a year makes.
A year ago, Stratton Nolen was in the gallery at Lions Municipal to watch a Firecracker Open playoff between Scott Roudebush and Matt Smith. Roudebush won, and Nolen stayed around to watch the trophy presentation.
On Monday, it was Nolen who was in a Firecracker playoff with Roudebush and Jordan Woolf. And this time it was Nolen, a 15-year-old who will be a sophomore at Westlake High, who accepted the champion’s trophy.
Nolen became the secondyoungest Firecracker champion after tying for 22nd last year as a 14-year-old. Another current Westlake High golfer, Brenden Redfern, was 14 when he won the tournament in 2007.
“This is just amazing. I can’t stop looking at all the names on this,” said Nolen, who did not let loose of the Firecracker Open trophy for at least 30 minutes. “You see (Tom) Kite, (Ben) Crenshaw, Scott (Roudebush) and of course (six-time Firecracker winner) Billy Clagett.
“I am especially glad to have my name on something with Billy Clagett,” Nolen said. “I have watched him for so long and have always looked up to him. He has really been an inspiration to me.”
Clagett was in the gallery Monday, along with Redfern,
Continued from C as the Firecracker concluded.
On Sunday, Nolen, Roudebush and Woolf finished the regulation 36 holes of the rainshortened tournament tied at 6-under-par 136. After darkness ruled out a playoff Sunday evening, they returned to the course Monday morning.
All three made par on the par-4 first hole. Woolf was eliminated on the par-5 second hole, where he made par while Nolen and Roudebush got up and down from just off the green for birdies.
Nolen clinched the title on the par-4 third hole. His approach was just off the green to the left, while Roudebush was just over the green. Roudebush’s third shot came up in the fringe some 30 feet short of the cup, and he missed that chip for par. Nolen chipped to three feet and made the putt to clinch the victory.
Nolen said he fortunate just to be in a playoff. An opening round of three-under 68 put him in a tie for seventh going into Sunday’s final round, and 27 players were within five shots of the lead.
“There were so many good players under par, and I figured somebody, Scott or somebody else, would go real low Sunday. I thought somebody would get to 10, 11 or 12 under,” Nolen said. “I had in my mind that I needed to shoot 64 to have a chance.”
However, Sunday’s scores were higher than expected, and a second straight 68 put Nolen in the playoff.
Nolen won the 14-and-under division at last year’s Texas State Junior Championship, and as a ninth grader was a member of the Westlake team that won the UIL Class 5A state championship this past season.
Now, just like his high school teammate Redfern, he’ll have a reserved parking space at Lions Municipal during the Firecracker Open, a perk for past champions.
Of course, Nolen does not yet have his driver’s license.
“I’ll have my license by this time next year, and I’ll definitely be back,” he said. made bogey on second extra hole. Stratton Nolen, who will be a Westlake sophomore in the fall, clutched the Firecracker Open trophy after chipping to within three feet of the cup and sinking his par putt on the third hole at Lions. Defending champion Scott Roudebush watches his tee shot on the third playoff hole. Several minutes later, he left a chip 30 feet short, and that opened the door to victory for Stratton Nolen.
Nolen is secondyoungest Firecracker champion.