Only once has an amateur won the Texas State Open.

After one round, Camden DeBonis, of Allen, is off to a good start in hopes of snapping that drought.

The Sam Houston State University golfer carded a 5-under 65 on Tuesday to share the first round lead with Trent Whitekiller of Arlington in the $205,000 48th Tanos Exploration II/Patterson-UTI Drilling Texas State Open at The Cascades Golf & Country Club.

“My round went pretty well today,” said DeBonis who will be a senior in the fall in Huntsville. “I got off to a pretty good start. I had a nice up and down on the first hole and I made about a 20-footer for birdie on the second hole and just got it rolling from there.”

The 6-0 DeBonis carded six birdies on the day with four coming during his back nine. He birdied Nos. 2, 6, 10, 14, 15 and 17. His only bogey came on the par 3 ninth hole.

Homero Blancas, former University of Houston standout, won the inaugural Texas State Open in 1960 as  an amateur at Sharpstown Golf Club in Houston.  

Whitekiller’s day consisted of an eagle on hole No. 6 and an additional five birdies (Nos. 3, 8, 9, 14 and 18). He had bogies on the seventh and 16th holes. The 5-11 Whitekiller is a former Oklahoma State University golfer and has played on the and Adams Tours.

The second round of the tourney begins at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Admission is free and open to the public. Parking is available near Mewbourne Field on the All Saints Episcopal School campus. Shuttles will take fans to the course.

The 72-hole stroke play event consists of 156 players comprised of 32 amateurs and 124 professionals. The field will play 36-holes before being cut to the low 55 scores and ties.  

Last year’s low amateur Andrew Paysse, of Temple and recent graduate of Texas A&M University who is making his professional debut, is with a group of six players one stroke behind the leaders.

Others at 4-under 66 include amateur Pierceson Coody of Plano; Brian Rowell of Broussard, Louisiana; Derek Tolan of Highlands Ranch, Colorado; Stratton Nolen of Austin; and Joel Thelen of Hudson Oaks.

Coody is the grandson of 1971 Masters Champion Charles Coody. He is a recent graduate of Plano West High School and will be a freshman in the fall at The University of Texas at Austin.

University of Colorado golfer Tolan is known for having played in the U.S. Open at the age of 16 at Bethpage Black in 2002. He has twice won the Colorado Open as well as the San Juan Open.

Rowell, who turned pro in 1997, played at the University of Mississippi, while Nolen, a graduate of Austin Westlake, is a former All-American at Oklahoma State.   

Thelen played in the Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship last week, placing in a tie for 34th. The tourney was at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Missouri. Thelen grew up in Marshall and was 2008 Ark-La-Tex Player of the Year. After beginning his college career at LeTourneau University in Longview, he transferred to NAIA powerhouse Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. There he earned All-America status.

Twenty PGA club professionals are in the field. Stuart Deane, PGA Director of Golf at The University of Texas at Arlington, currently leads that division at 3-under par 67. Matt Lohmeyer, PGA teaching professional at GolfTec-Montgomery Plaza, and Gabe Reynolds, PGA Director of Instruction at TopGolf Dallas, are just one shot back of Deane.

There were 10 eagles during the round, along with 432 birdies, 1,712 pars and 573 bogeys. The average score was 71.74.

Among the local golfers, Bobby Massa, of Tyler, is three back at 68. Stuart Smallwood, of Paris and a former Texas State University golfer, is at even at 70, while noted local amateur and former Cascades champion Bryan Baker is at 71.

Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation’s scholarship program with the creation of the Tanos Exploration II/Patterson-UTI Drilling Texas State Open Scholarship.

Emma French, of Bullard, was awarded this scholarship. This year the NTPGA Junior Golf Foundation awarded more than $307,500 in scholarships to 44 high school seniors from North Texas.    


Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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