Castroville, a small town west of San Antonio, may be known for its strawberries, but now it can lay claim to a championship golfer.
Kyle Pritchard continued his stellar play on Friday, holding off a host of charging challengers, before capturing the 49th Tanos Exploration II/Patterson-UTI Drilling Texas State Open at The Cascades Golf & Country Club in Tyler.
It was indeed a sweet victory as Pritchard drained a short putt on the 18th for a two-stroke win that was topped off by two of his young boys — Hutton, 5, and Beau, 3 — racing across the green into his arms. The three were later joined for a family embrace by his wife Synthia, 1-year old Jack, and Pritchard’s parents.
“I teed off with a 6-shot lead today and still didn’t believe that I could do it,” said former Louisiana-Lafayette golfer. “It never hit me until that last putt on the last hole. Just to have my kids there and to know that their dad could do it, that’s all that it means to me. It’s perfect. This win means a lot. It’s been a long road.”
During the first 54 holes, Pritchard had just two bogeys (both in the second round), but sometimes playing with a big lead is tougher than a slim advantage.
He bogeyed Nos. 2, 6 and 7 as he saw his lead quickly evaporated. When he was about to tee off at No. 8, he was suddenly tied with Bullard’s Blake Elliott, the 2019 Southland Conference Player of the Year at McNeese State.
Pritchard then refocused. After parring No. 8, he birdied No. 9 and the former Medina Valley High School golf coach was back on track.
He followed with five birdies and one bogey on the back nine to finish with a final round of 2-under 70 and a 72-hole total of 21-under 259.
The four-day total matches past champion and PGA Tour Member, Shawn Stefani’s Championship total when he won at The Cascades in 2011.
Pritchard, who is the course pro at Alsatian Golf Club, picked up a check for $41,000. He also earns a lifetime exemption into the Texas State Open.
Pritchard thanked his family and caddy Thomas Hawkins for their support, the Northern Texas PGA and The Cacades. Also, his eyes glistened when speaking of his passion for teaching youngsters the game of golf.
He now has his named listed along with Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino and Homero Blancas, among others, on the TSO Championship Board.
Derek Oland of Plano placed second with a 19-under 261. Oland, who won $21,000, had a final round of 64.
Elliott had a final round of 5-under 65 to tie with Alex Carpenter of Dallas for third at 18-under 262. They each won $13,750.
Rising Baylor University senior Colin Kober, of Southlake, earned Low Amateur honors, tying for fifth place overall with a 15-under 265.
Kober was one of eight amateurs to make the cut. He held off Baylor teammate Ryan Grider, of Lewisville, by three strokes to claim Low Amateur. Grider, who won the 110th Texas Amateur in June, will be a junior at Baylor in the fall.
“It’s a really cool honor to be the low-am, especially since I was battling it out with one of my teammates this week, Ryan Grider, and I was actually staying in the same hotel room as him,” Kober said. “So we were just having fun with it. We both want to be professional golfers, so we both came here to compete and try to win the overall (championship).”
Kober won the 2015 Class 6A medalist honors and helped his high school team, Southlake Carroll, to the state team title. He finished runner-up medalist in 2016.
Matt Lohmeyer, surged up the leaderboard with the lowest round of the day, a 9-under 61 on Friday, to take Low PGA Professional Honors.
Lohmeyer said his previous low score was 64. He is PGA teaching professional at GolfTEC—Montgomery Plaza. He finished 1-stroke ahead of two-straight Low Club Pro winner and 2018 champion Ben Kern of Georgetown Country Club.
Lohmeyer, of Westworth Village, carded a 12-under 268.
“Today went well,” Lohmeyer said. “After seeing Ben Kern’s round yesterday of 9-under I knew to get the low club pro I had to shoot something pretty special, probably the same score that he did, and hope that he didn’t shoot another 9-under round.
“I had nine birdies, the hole looked very big today putting, and there was just something about today. I had a crazy focus and it was my career-best round by three shots, so that was pretty cool. This is pretty special to win. That’s been a goal of mine to at least get the Low PGA Professional. At some point I’d also win the tournament as well.”
The Cascades hosted the tournament for a record eighth time this year. The NTPGA has not announced where the 50th Texas State Open will be held, but Mark Harrison, Executive Director/CEO of the NTPGA, had high praise for The Cascades, their members and the city of Tyler for hosting the event.
Matthew Cohen, general manager of The Cascades, is hopeful of a return to Tyler.
Proceeds from the tournament benefitted the Northern Texas PGA Foundation’s scholarship program with the creation of the Tanos Exploration II/Patterson-UTI Drilling Texas State Open Scholarship.
Lauren James from Judson was awarded this scholarship. This year the NTPGA Foundation awarded over $406,000 in scholarships to 50 high school seniors from North Texas, Harrison said.
The Championship was sponsored by Tanos Exploration II and Patterson-UTI Drilling. It was presented by Joyce Crane and Veritex Bank and was supported by Cavender’s Boot City, Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health Systems, Energy Weldfab, Jucy’s Hamburgers and Patterson Tyler.
The 72-hole stroke play event began with 156 contestants. Following 36-holes, the field was cut to the low 55 scores and ties. Some 71 players (63 pros, 8 amateurs) survived the cut, which was at even par 140. All four rounds were contested at The Cascades Club, a 6,882-yard, par 70 layout. For the Championship, hole No. 10 played as a 490-yard, par 4 rather than a par 5.
The total purse was a record $208,560.
The players praised The Cascades course and greens superintendent Dallas Litzenberger and his crew.
After six players finished in double-figures under par last year, some 26 golfers placed at least 10-under in 2019.