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Congratulations, Sean!

Some of you may know him, some of you may not, but his name is Sean Robertson. Sean was born in Germany while his father was in the army, but he moved to Salina when he was young and that is where he has resided for most of his life. He began playing golf at Prairie Dunes CC with his grandfather but never really focused on it growing up as he was putting more time into other sports. When he became a sophomore in high school, this is when he began focusing his competitive energy into the game of golf. His hard work and skill led to be on the first team at Kansas State University to qualify for the NCAA regionals. Sean currently holds two course records at Salina Municipal golf course and Rolling Acres golf course. Beyond any other record or achievement Sean has, is something that we should all admire. Sean has just qualified for his 33rd straight Kansas Amateur. This means he has now qualified for consecutive Kansas Amateurs spanning 5 different decades. Sean goes on to say this about the game of golf. “Golf requires personal responsibility, calls for honesty even when no one is looking, and demands the ability to problem solve.  No other sport has at its core those values that can be carried over into a person’s career and personal life.  That’s what makes it the greatest sport in the world.” 

From Central Links, and the rest of the golf community, congratulations Sean! 

Dramatic Ending to The KC Four-Ball

The second and final day of the Kansas City Four-Ball championship was today, June 22nd, 2021. Given the perfect weather and tight scores from the previous day, it was an exciting day of golf. Throughout day two, leads were not growing or shrinking but players kept jumping positions, only causing suspense to build. At the end of the final day of the competition there was a tie for first place, at 11 under par, between Andy Kelley and his partner Matt Kelley, with Dave Cunningham and his partner Scott Richey. After them, there was another tie for third place between the teams of Garrett Allen and Ronnie McHenry with Aaron Sheaks and Jesse Schulte, both teams scoring 10 under. A four-way tie occurred for fifth place between Kit Grove and Will Gantz, Eric Lester and Zac Dittmer, Ben Moser and Brady Buxman, and finally Reed Malleck and Will Harding, all of these teams finished nine under par. With there being a tie for the first-place prize, a playoff occurred on the tenth hole at around 5:15. After five holes of equal play, Matt and Andy Kelley beat out their opponents for the number one spot. 

Results>>

Diederich and Mason Lead the Four-Ball Championship

22 teams of two came out to Staley Farms in North Kansas City to compete in the Kansas City Four-Ball competition. After the past few days of heat, today was perfect weather, and the players performed like it with 18 teams ending their first round either even or under par. Several teams shot one under, and three under, but only a few were able to break that threshold and shoot more than four under. Teams like Caleb Kimmel and Chance Rinkol, as well as Coleman Houk and Troy Watson were at four under after day one. Teams like Kit Grove and Will Kants, along with Eric Lester and Zac Dittmer ended at five under. In second place at the end of the first day was Ben Moser and Brady Buxman at six under. To top the cake is duo Gregory Diederich IV and Jeff Mason at seven under! With all of these tight scores, it should make the final day interesting as we see if Diedrich and Mason can hold onto their single stroke advantage.

Results>>

Stous and Weidig Are Victorious

This morning, June 16th, 2021, the Kansas City Women’s Match Play Championship final round began. For the championship bracket it was a battle between the 12 seed Kenni Henson and the 7 seed Rachel Stous. Starting on the first hole, Kenni Henson came to play. She won the first three holes, and Rachel spent the rest of the front nine catching up. Once Rachel caught up on the 11th hole, she went on to win the 12th hole to go one up. Henson fought back on the back nine, but Stous claimed the Championship Title on the 18th green going one up.  

The silver bracket side was a lot of the same with Scarlet Weidig (1) who faced off with Laine Evans (10). After Weidig conceded hole number 11, she proceeded to win five unanswered holes, and this allowed her to take the pressure off on the last nine holes. Evans tried catching up but, again, it was too little too late from her and Weidig came out on top. After speaking with Weidig about her victory, she pointed to her chipping and putting as the main aspects of her game that set her apart from her competition. Weidig then went on to say “When you got out of the fairway it was really hard to get back on to it. The course was tight in some areas with greens that were hard to make the ball stop on.” Scarlet shared that we can expect her to come back next year to defend her title. 

Results >>

Spots Are Claimed in the Women’s Matchplay Championship

DAY TWO

Morning Recap

The second day kicked off bright and early this morning, on June 15th, 2021. The championship bracket matches ended early aside from the match between Sarah Lawson and Kenni Henson which was decided on the 18th hole in favor of Henson. Megan Lucas defeated Elizabeth Grant by a dominating eight holes with six to play. Rachel Stous faced off against Hanna Hawks and the result was that Stous defeated the number two seed, Hawks, by five holes with three to play. Completing the championship bracket was the match between Lauren Thiele and Kaitlyn Hanna. Hanna dominated by winning by six holes with five holes to play. 

On the silver bracket side, Momo Kikuchi played against Scarlett Weidig resulting in a two-hole victory in favor of Weidig. Following them was the match between Abby Howard and Abby Glynn. Glynn gained and held a very commanding eight-hole lead over her opponent allowing the match to end with six holes still to play. The match between Ellen Fisher and Laine Evans was a roller coaster with Ellen getting off to a great start, but ultimately the back nine belonged to Evans. The last match of the silver bracket was one against Harley Hiltibrand and Hanna Robinett. After Hiltibrand won the first hole, Robinett was on a roll until the last few holes where she let off the gas and Hiltibrand tried to come back but it was not enough. That match ended in the favor of Robinett by three holes with two left.

Afternoon Recap

Around lunch time the winners of the morning’s matches in the championship bracket teed off for to try and claim their spot in the championship tomorrow. After playing lights out in the morning, Megan Lucas faced off with Kenni Henson. It took a few holes for Henson to warm up but as they reached the turn, Henson was ahead by three holes. Henson then goes on to win hole number ten and keeps her well established lead to defeat Lucas. Rachel Stous was paired against Kaitlyn Hanna and by looking at the score card, Stous dominated the front nine holes but let off the gas a little bit on the back nine while Hanna attempted to climb back in it by winning holes number 10 and 15. Stous relied on her lead the back nine and got the job done to claim her spot in the championship. 

The silver bracket side was very interesting this afternoon. Abby Glynn played against Scarlett Weidig. Scarlett was ahead of Abby by a whopping five holes, but Abby started to slowly chop away at her opponent’s lead on the back nine. Unfortunately, it was not enough to overcome the deficit and Weidig advances to the final by two holes. The other match being played was Laine Evans versus Hanna Robinett. As the front nine ended, Evans was only two holes ahead. After the turn, Evans carried on her hot streak and won the next two to extend her lead to four holes and she closed out the match with that lead. 

Results  >>  

DAY ONE

Round of 16 is Complete of Women’s Match Play

Day one of three commenced today, June 14th, 2021, and it started off with all players competing in Stroke Play to qualify for match play at 7:40 in the morning. With the last group finishing around 3:30, players gathered to hear if they qualified or not. The top 16 players made up the championship bracket while the following 16 players made up the silver bracket.  

The championship bracket had Megan Lucas leading the pack as the one seed after scoring a 73 to qualify. Following Lucas was Hanna Hawks, who carded a 74, and Lauren Thiele, Sarah Lawson, Brooke were tied for third (all carding a 75). Megan faced off with opponent Libby Green and established a dominant six-hole lead after the first nine holes and held that lead until they had five holes to go. Hawks played against Victoria Klausner and this match was closer. Hanna was only one hole ahead of Klausner after only 13 but it slowly got stretched to two by the end of the match. Lauren Thiele faces of with Susan Devoe and Thiele was holding a two-hole lead over her opponent after 13 holes as well. Sarah Lawson was matched up against Shauna Lee and Lawson ended up winning the match with a four-hole lead when they still had three holes to go. Joining Lucas, Hawks, Thiele, and Lawson tomorrow are Elizabeth grant (9), Kenni Henson (12), Rachel Stous (7) and Kaitlyn Hanna (6). 

Over in the silver bracket, Scarlet Weidig led the pack as the number one seed, with Ellen Fisher, Mclain Neal and Abby Howard following her respectively. Scarlett created a three-hole advantage over her opponent Faith Hedges, but the match actually ends with a five-hole lead in Weidig’s favor. Ellen Fisher played against Alexa Garnett and it was closer than some might have at first thought because it was tied after 13 holes, but Fisher got it done and ended the match with a three-hole advantage with one to go. Mclain Neal faced off with Hanna Robinett and was being upset by three holes after 13, and it finished as just that. To join the winners mentioned previously in the silver bracket tomorrow are Momo Kikuchi (8), Abby Glynn (5), Laine Evans (10) and Harley Hiltibrand (6). 

Results>>

Remembering Opal Hill

Opal Trout was born in Nebraska, but after the death of her father at only two years old, her mother relocated the family to Missouri. This planted the seed of Opal’s love for the Kansas City, Missouri area. Like her father, Opal’s mother was also very sick. Growing up Opal always had to take care of her mother, which ultimately led her to enroll in nursing school after high school to become a nurse. She eventually graduated in 1914 and was officially a nurse. After taking care of a patient by the name of Oscar Hill, both Oscar and Opal fell in love, got married and had a child together. Immediately after giving birth, Opal began having health issues. These issues consisted of a large unexplained loss of weight, kidney infection and amenia. Considering the condition Opal was in, many doctors did not see a very bright future for Opal. Despite many doctors not having a solution to Opal’s problem, there was a doctor that prescribed her a healthy dose of sunshine, and fresh air while exercising. Her husband was a member at the Meadow Lake Country Club, and this was the beginning of her passion for the game of Golf. 

By the time she discovered the game, she was already 31. To make up for the several years of practice she lost, she began practicing up to ten hours a day. Her passion for golf transitioned into a love for golf. While Opal was spending time outdoors and working on her craft, her health improved drastically over time and so did her golf game. She was enrolling in tournaments by the mid 1920s and began winning them in the late 1920s. With there not being any professional golf for women at the time, she was entering and winning some of the biggest tournaments that women could enter without being a professional. Some notable achievements she accomplished were winning the Trans-Mississippi tournament four times, winning the Missouri Women’s amateur three times, winning the Women’s Western Amateur three times, as well as winning the Western Women’s open twice. Despite never winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur, she was an established regular in the semi and quarterfinals of the event. All these accomplishments are only about half of the mark she had left on the game. 

Opal took a massive leap of faith when she became a professional, as there were very few cases of women doing this before her. In 1942, soon after she became professional, everything stopped when her husband passed away. With no regular source of income now, she was forced to return to her previous job as a nurse in Kansas City. She rarely played in any tournaments from then on, but her name and story were still very prominent within the golf community. With Opal gone but not forgotten in the golf scene, the biggest female names in the sport decided they were going to create the LPGA, the world’s first women only golf circuit, and desired Opal’s guidance with doing so. The group of 13 women became the founders of the LPGA and Opal was the only founder of the teaching division in the LGPA. Ultimately, Opal died at the age of 89, but there was no doubt in the minds of the golfing community that she had not cemented her name into history and the sport of golf for generations to come. 

With her story being told and her impact on the game of golf being remembered, to give further thanks to Opal, The Prairie Invitational is changing the name of the Players Division to the Opal Hill division.

Eventful Junior Tour at Shirkey Golf Course

The Kansas City Junior Tour got underway on Monday, June 7,  at Shirkey Golf Course in Richmond, Missouri. The field was split into the standard five divisions, the prep division, 13-15 boys and girls, and 16+ boys and girls. The day was highlighted by a lot of fantastic golf from our juniors and a hole in one by Aidan Kullot. “It was a pure seven iron from about 135 yards out, it landed about five feet short, hit the pin and dropped.” Kullot said. The prep division was won by Josh Fratzel with a total of 42. The girls 13-15 division was won by Hadley Neese, scoring 76, including three birdies. The boys 13-15 division was won by Peyton Smith carding a 72, including four birdies. The girls 16+ division was won by both Emmy Braden and Aliyah North, both scoring an 84. The boys 16+ was won by Rohan Desai with a 77 with a birdie on hole number six. This event at Shirkey Golf course was a great kick off to the Junior Tour and we look forward to the next tournament at Hodge Park on June 10th.

Evans Wins Kansas Women’s Mid-Am

The Kansas Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship kicked off on June 5th. Starting at 7:30 in the morning the first group of three teed off at the Sand Creek Station golf course. Katy Winters got off to a not so good start by bogeying the first hole and double bogeying the second, but soon turned it around and made par on the following 5 holes and she birdied the ninth. Starting the back nine similarly to the front, she finished with a 74 giving her the lead over her competition but, just barely by 1 stroke. At the end of the day, Katy held the lead, but Laine Evans was the woman trailing Katy by a single stroke. Spectators knew that this was the recipe for a very eventful second and final day of the event. 

Round 2 commenced Laine Evans started her round with a bogey, only allowing her to make one more on the back nine for the day. To help contribute to her round two score of 71, she also had three birdies. A player who kind of snuck under the radar, after carding a 77 in the first round, was Haley Thiele. Thiele made a statement on round two though as she carded the lowest round for the event shooting two-under, 71. Haley ended up placing second with a 147 total gross score, trailing by just one to Laine’s 146 for the event.  However, Haley went on to win the Overall Net Division. After the event, this is what Laine had to say about her game. “Yes, I was very happy with my round, considering a started with a bogey. I just focused on each shot and stayed positive throughout the round!”  

Link to results >> 

Overall Gross: Laine Evans 

Overall Net: Haley Thiele  

First Flight 

First Place Gross: Katy Winters 

Second Place Gross: Pam Simpson 

First Place Net: Denise Desilet 

Second Place Net: Martha Linscott 

Second Flight 

First Place Gross: Terri Albers 

Second Place Gross: Mary Larson 

First Place Net: Barbara Cusick 

Second Place Net: Shelly Amundson 

Spencer Adds Third Watson Challenge Victory

A beautiful, warm Championship Saturday and the Watson Challenge has a new (repeat) Champion.

The 14th Watson Challenge began at The National Golf Course of Kansas City on Thursday, June 3rd. After COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 Watson Challenge, excitement buzzed on the first day of competition in almost two years. 48 players teed off Thursday morning in prime, warm conditions.

The star of round one was Michael Letzig, Parkville, MO, with a four-under round of 68 that featured five birdies and one bogey on the day. Letzig had the best round of the day by two strokes, with only six players shooting under par with The National showing its teeth early in the competition.

Scoring for round two seemed a little better across the board and saw seven players card an under par round. Of those included two-time Watson Challenge Champion, Andy Spencer. Spencer had a fantastic day, carding a seven-under round of 65, highlighted by five birdies and an eagle on the Par-5, 15th hole to move up the leaderboard to first with a two-day total of 135 (-9).

Charlie Hillier, Overland Park, KS, also had a great day that moved him up the leaderboard after firing a six-under round of 66. A lone bogey, five birdies, and an eagle moved Charlie up to a two-under, two-day total. Letzig fought through a rollercoaster round to card a one-under 71 and sit close behind Spencer in second place heading in to the final round.

Championship Saturday began on a warm, sunny day with the final pairing of Spencer (-9), Letzig (-5), and Ryan Argotsinger (-3). Letzig got out to a quick start with two birdies in a row to start his round and cut the lead by one. Spencer had an up and down first 5 holes with two birdies and two bogeys and made the turn at even par and Letzig turning at one-under. Both players held steady to start the back 9 with two pars and matched each other with a birdie on the 12th hole.

Spencer added to his lead with a birdie on the Par-3, 14th hole, but gave it right back with a bogey on 15. Letzig continued to battle and put pressure on Spencer, but with smart play Spencer would par the 16th and 17th hole, heading to 18 tee with a three shot lead. Playing it safe off the tee, Spencer found himself in the fairway and chose to lay up with his second shot on the Par-5, 18th hole. Letzig hit a great third shot about 15 feet from the hole for a birdie chance. Spencer was just off the green with his third shot and chipped to about 8 feet for par. Letzig would convert on his birdie putt to get in the clubhouse at three-under for the day, and tournament total of 208 (-8).

Spencer was just too good, and after converting his par putt let out a victory yell in excitement, claiming his third Watson Challenge victory. This marks three wins in the last five years for Spencer, who recently turned professional after graduating from Kansas University (2017, 2018, 2021).

Tournament host Tom Watson finished tied for 19th after carding his best round of the tournament on Saturday with a two-over, 74, to finish with a three-day total of 227 (+11). Robert Russell had the round of the day with a four-under, 68, that pushed him up the leaderboard to finish 4th overall (212, -4). Charlie Hillier followed up his great second round score with another great round of three-under, 69, that gave him solo third place (211, -5).

After not having this event in 2020, the 2021 Watson Challenge did not disappoint. Thank you to The National Golf Course of Kansas City for hosting and giving up their golf course for three days. The course was in great shape and we are grateful to all those who helped to make this event happen.

Full field of results, see here.

Watson Challenge Begins Thursday

For Immediate Release

PARKVILLE, MO – The Watson Challenge, hosted by Tom Watson, is set to take place Thursday-Saturday at the National Golf Club of Kansas City. After the COVID-19 Pandemic prevented the tournament from being played last year, 49 local amateurs and professionals will play in this year’s event. 

All eyes will be on Tom Watson, tournament namesake, as he tries to win his sixth championship. Watson tees off at 8:30 AM Thursday morning.

Another player to watch is the 2019 Watson Challenge Champion, Alex Springer. Springer recently played in the AdventHealth Championship at Blue Hills Country Club, placing T30 in the Korn Ferry Tour event. Other past Watson Challenge Champions playing in this year’s tournament include Andy Spencer and Rob Wilkin.

Lake Quivira Head Golf Professional, Chris Mabry and 2020 Central Links Golf Player of the Year, Park Ulrich are both players to watch. Ulrich dominated in the 2020 Central Links Golf tournament season, winning the Kansas Amateur, Heart of America Four-Ball, and Mid-Amateur Team Championship. Both Mabry and Ulrich will be aiming for their first Watson Challenge victory.

Nic Ingram, Andrew Rumbaugh, Frank Booth, Tim Barry and Cole Elling are home course favorites representing the National Golf Club.

Tournament Pairings & Starting Times can be found on the tournament website here >> https://centrallinksgolf.org/the-watson-challenge-the-national-golf-club/

The event is not open to the public.

Tournament Director contact: Doug Habel
doug@clgolf.org | (913) 649-5242 x1