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Holden Wisener, of Dallas, won the 113th Texas Amateur on Sunday and with it the  custody of the H.L. Edwards Memorial Trophy, named in honor of Harry Lee Edwards, the “Father of Golf in Texas.” Edwards earned the nickname because he helped to establish the TGA in February of 1906, served as its first president and won the inaugural Amateur Championship. Additionally, Edwards was also a founding member of Dallas CC and Brook Hollow GC. The trophy is shown at the site of the 113th Texas Amateur, Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler.

Perhaps it is hopelessly cliche, but golf can be a cruel game.

Three guys tied for the championship of the 113th Texas State Amateur on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon at Willow Brook Country Club and only one could walk away happy.

That golfer was Holden Wisener of Dallas and even he could empathize with his disappointed competitors Bobby Massa of Dallas and Jake Doggett of Hutto.

“It can be cruel,” Wisener said in the aftermath of his victory. “I am so happy to win today but I know the hurt and disappointment and even walked away from the game for a while a few years ago.”

In what former Willow Brook pro Ralph Morgan called a “swatfest,” the three players returned to the 18th tee box so that the gallery could stay in place for the action. Wisener and Doggett hit from the fairway while Massa played his approach from the left rough on the 416-yard par 4. Doggett was just short and to the right of the green while Massa placed his second shot some 18 feet away and Wisener just closer at 16 feet.

After Doggett and Massa just missed with their birdie efforts, Wisener drained his putt for the win. An English major at Southern Methodist University, the win puts Wisener’s name on the H.L. Edwards Championship Trophy with such great names as Charles Coody, Ben Crenshaw, Bruce Lietzke and more recently Will Zalatoris.

It was painful for Massa, who entertained with towering drives and laser approaches as he led for most of the tournament only to come up just short. His undoing can be traced back to a costly double bogey on the par 4 13th Sunday. That put him into a chasing mode with Doggett in the lead and Wisener close.

On the 13th, Massa drove his ball way left and had a second shot from an awkward angle. His short iron shot just needed another few feet to reach the green but plugged into the lip of a steep bunker from where he could manage only to get the ball out to the fringe and from there he needed 3 putts.

Having opened with a course record 62 on Thursday, Massa slept on the lead for three nights and then gallantly fought back after the setback on the 13th. Earlier he eagled the par 5 ninth and looked in control until the double bogey.

Massa managed to steady himself, coming in with a nice up and down for birdie on the 16th. The 17th hole was his undoing as his birdie putt from about 35 feet stopped five feet short and he missed the par putt.

On his final hole, Massa made a terrific par by gouging a wedge from a horrible lie in the thick Bermuda rough and then getting down in two putts from more than 40 feet away on the back on the 18th green.

Doggett, with his hometown buddy Darryl Yoweyel toting his clubs, suffered a similar fate with a failure to get up and down for par from the front fringe on the 17th and then another bogey on the 18th. The senior at Midwestern University was runner-up last year and shot his way into contention on Saturday with a red-hot 63.

Massa and Doggett were both upbeat afterwards but the pain and disappointment was etched in their faces — 72 holes in the heat and just a short putt from winning.

Like Wisener, Massa took a break from the game about seven years ago but of late has shown signs of his brilliance with towering 300 plus yards drives and a solid short game that features a smooth putting stroke. He followed up that club record 62 with rounds of 69-69-70.

Wisener was steady with rounds of 68-66-68-68 for 270, 14-under par. He missed a 4-foot birdie putt on his 72nd hole or would have won outright without the playoff. But his 16-foot putt in the playoff was on the same line and that gave him the needed confidence to convert the birdie opportunity.

Once the putt curled in, Wisener erupted with emotion. He had fought all day long and prevailed and it set off a family celebration with his mom Jennifer and dad Atticus greenside in the gallery. As he hugged his father on Father's Day, tears streamed from father and son.

“It is just very special to me and our family,” Wisener said. “I learned the game at (Dallas Athletic Club) in Dallas from my grandfather Randy and we lost him last November. My grandmother Barbara still lives close to the 12th hole on the Gold Course at DAC.”

Wisener enjoyed his week at Willow Brook, “an old school course,” he said, which reminded him of the Blue Course at DAC.

The playoff capped off a celebratory week at Willow Brook in its Centennial year. Beginning with nine holes in 1922, the club has expanded its course through the years and sought to keep it the best in East Texas and relevant for top amateur events like the state amateur. It was modernized and toughened during its recent renovation in 2016-17 with Tripp Davis of Oklahoma redesigning the green complexes and changing the routing on holes 11 and 12, converting two rather ordinary par 4s into a strategic par 5 (No. 11) and a short but devilish par 3 (No. 12).

Davis’ challenging green designs were apparent Sunday, especially on the 17th, a difficult par 3 at 208 yards from the championship tees. Guarded by deep bunkers on the right with a steep terrace on the left, the putting surface has subtle breaks difficult to ascertain. And with the Sunday hole location in the back right portion of the green, Doggett was long with his chip and then Massa short with his approach putt. Neither player could convert from about 5 feet for pars and that spelled the difference in winning and losing.

In the gallery at the 18th hole was the director of the Texas Golf Association, Stacy Dennis, who praised Willow Brook as a perfect host for its biggest event.

“It has been a great week here at Willow Brook,” Dennis said. “The course was in such good shape and the members have just been incredible.”

During the trophy presentation, club president Clay Cavender cited the efforts of the club staff with special praise for golf professional Chris Hudson, course superintendent Ken Bowman and general manager Lana Adams. Cavender and Willow Brook added a special touch for this year’s winner with a special pair of custom cowboy boots. Wisener later donned the boots for photographs.

Flying under the radar and finishing in a tie for fourth was Zack Atkinson of Colleyville who shot a 65 on Sunday. He tied with Hayes Hamilton of Kingwood and Francois Jacobs of League City, all 12 under for the tournament.

Clay Hodge of Willow Brook turned in the top performance of the club’s members in the tournament with a 68 Sunday for a 2-under total of 282, good for a tie for 27th. Other members playing but missing the cut were Colton Cavender, Rory Smith and Aaron Hickman.

Hickman, a board member of the Texas Golf Association, was all smiles Sunday afternoon because it was a great week for golf and Willow Brook Country Club.

 
 

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