DOUG SMITH | CEN­TRAL TEXAS GOLF Tour­na­ment has steadily moved up list of lo­cal events

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

Ac­com­plished list of play­ers head for For­est Creek, Cen­tral Texas Am­a­teur

The next stop on the Austin am­a­teur cir­cuit is the Cen­tral Texas Am­a­teur, which will be held Satur­day and Sun­day at For­est Creek.

The tour­na­ment is rel­a­tively new, hav­ing be­gun in 1998. How­ever, it has grown in pres­tige ev­ery year and now ranks just a notch be­low the Fire­cracker Open and the Austin Men’s City Cham­pi­onship in the eyes of most lo­cal play­ers.

“Af­ter those first two (Fire­cracker and City), it has to be right near the top,” said Steve Pater­son, win­ner of the 2006 Cen­tral Texas Am­a­teur. “… The qual­ity of the field is al­ways good, and it’s one of the tough­est cour­ses we play. The course is al­ways in good shape.

“It’s very chal­leng­ing, but fair, and that’s what ev­ery­body wants.”

A look at the past cham­pi­ons in­di­cates the qual­ity of the event: C. J. Goecks (1998), Mark McEn­tire (1999), David Bolen (2000), Steven Bright (2001), Chuck Gardner (2002), Trey Schroeder (2003), Jonathan Mathias (2004), Billy Clagett (2005), Pater­son (2006), Jamie Kel­lam (2007 and 2008) and Matt Smith (2009). Any­body who fol­lows lo­cal golf knows those names and knows that there is not a pre­tender in the bunch.

The win­ning scores tell the story of the dif­fi­culty of For­est Creek. Goecks’ score of 6-un­der 138 in the first year re­mains the tour­na­ment record. Gardner’s 4-un­der 140 in 2002 is sec­ond best. A 36-hole score of over par has won the tour­na­ment six times.

“The course is the strength of this tour­na­ment, and we feel that the tour­na­ment has found its place as one of the best in the area,” head pro Chuck Jen­nings said. “The course is in great shape. The fair­ways are the best I’ve ever seen, and the greens are rolling great.

“The rough is not real high, but it is re­ally thick,” Jen­nings said. “I think the rough is go­ing to make it very in­ter­est­ing this year.”

Three for­mer cham­pi­ons are in the field this week­end: Schroeder, Clagett and Pater­son. The field also in­cludes two play­ers who have al­ready won on this year’s am­a­teur cir­cuit: Robert Evans at the Am­a­teur at Shad­ow­Glen and Ni­cholas Cris­tea at the Horse­shoe Bay In­vi­ta­tional. Cris­tea is the cur­rent points leader in the Austin Am­a­teur rank­ings.

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