DALLAS — As eventual US Open winner Gary Woodland was making his way around the iconic links at Pebble Beach, hitting quality shots and holding off golf’s new alpha, Brooks Koepka, the 110th Texas Amateur was concluding here at Dallas Athletic Club on a stormy Sunday afternoon.
Two East Texas golfers, one a true amateur with a wife and two young children and the other a talented college golfer, were pursuing their passion at the club better known as DAC that has been celebrating its centennial year in 2019.
The young father is Luke Loggins of Tyler and the college golfer is Logan Lockwood of Van. Both made the 36-hole cut in a tournament scheduled to go 72 holes but reduced to 54 because of lightning and rain delays that foiled a good part of the Sunday final round. Loggins is in the real estate business but still loves competitive golf and was proud to make the cut right on the number at 4-over 148. Lockwood is a junior at Texas State University and continuing to add to his resume, having played in the US Amateur last summer at Pebble Beach. One other East Texan, Will Holcomb of Crockett, also played over the weekend.
Ryan Grider of Lewisville, a 20-year-old junior at Baylor won the tournament with the lowest 54-hole total from the day before (11-under 205) with Chris Wheeler, 36, of Addison finishing second at 9-under 207. Lockwood showed steady improvement for a nice finish, tied for 14th at 1 under par while Loggins struggled with a third round 79 but refused to let it faze him.
“My goal was to make the cut and I had to make about a 15-foot sidehill putt to do it,” Loggins said. “To make that putt and the cut with my wife and her family here was really special. And my mom and dad followed just about every step of the way so it was special.”
Loggins gained his spot in the state amateur with a 4-under 67 at Willow Brook Country Club, the lowest competitive score thus far on the renovated Willow Brook layout.
“That qualifying round was fun because I holed it from a bunker near the green on my final hole,” Loggins said. “That made up for a bogey 6 on the par-5 16th so it has already been a pretty good year of golf for me.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, Loggins finished third in the Willow Brook club tournament behind winner Colton Cavender and runner-up Aaron Hickman. Hickman, a strong amateur for many years, barely missed the cut by a single shot at 149 for the first two rounds.
The state amateur is now a walking-only event and that can be challenging in the Texas summer heat as Loggins discovered.
“I’m not complaining but just got worn out because that’s a lot of walking when I have gotten used to riding most of the time at Willow Brook,” Loggins said. “And we played 16 holes on Sunday before the round was cancelled so I got home a tired man on Sunday night.”
Loggins’ dad Les, a very good amateur himself and part of a legacy of good golf from Robert E. Lee High School, got plenty of exercise himself following his son’s play. On the Saturday afternoon of the event, the senior Loggins was walking briskly ahead of his son and had his son chuckling.
“Dad is more into this than me,” Loggins said. “He is like where’s Waldo out there, constantly on the move.”
Though the tournament was cut short, Loggins said he did not get to see much if any of the last round of the US Open from Pebble Beach. He missed a dandy with Koepka birdying four of the first five holes to let Woodland and his playing partner Justin Rose know that the muscular man from Florida had his designs on making history with a third straight win at our national championship.
Woodland, a 35-year-old athletic specimen in the same mold as Koepka, would have none of it, continually rising to the occasion with clutch shots along the way to never relinquish his lead though he was tied early on by Rose. A native of Topeka, Kansas, Woodland is from the American heartland and a former college basketball player who said later to never give up on your dreams.
“I never dreamed of winning a US Open as a kid but of making a clutch free throw,” Woodland said. “And as a golfer, I have continued to work on becoming a better player and not just a bomber or long hitter. This win validates all of the hard work but I still have things to improve with my game.”
About three years ago, at a special event in Austin with Jordan Spieth the attraction, I saw Woodland standing by himself off to the side and drinking a soft drink. I approached him and we had a nice chat. I asked about his game on the eve of that 2016 match play championship and he said he was playing well but not too good on Sundays, the money day. He said he was working on it.
I mentioned that he had a new friend in Spieth since they both were representing the athletic company.
“Yeah, and he’s pretty good, too,” Woodland said with a big grin.
He was referring to Spieth’s unbelievable 2015 season when the Dallas golfer won the Masters, the US Open and was oh so close in both the British Open and PGA. Many now think part of Spieth’s slump is due to his tendency to compare his current golf to that special year.
Everyone is hopeful Spieth will get back in the winner’s circle soon but Woodland’s win is another one for the nice guys of the world.
As for Loggins, just competing with the top amateurs in Texas was gratifying.
“The bottom line for me is that I am so grateful that my wife and family allows me to play golf competitively when I can because they know how much I love it.”
It was a nice present for Loggins on a rainy Father’s Day Sunday.