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June 20, 2014

Newcomer Stansbury wins OSA

DUNCAN — For the first time in match play, John Stansbury, 56, had to take on the Territory’s 17th and 18th holes, and he had to do it down one against the defending Oklahoma Senior Amateur champion, Kirk Wright, 53.

Making his debut in the tournament, Stansbury, won the tournament with a bogey, par, par in the 17th, 18th and 19th holes of the final match. Wright had a number of opportunities to put the win in the bag, but a three-putt on the 17th green and back-to-back missed iron shots assured Stansbury of the trophy Thursday.

It was the second consecutive year that a newcomer won the honors. Wright accomplished the feat in 2013 at The Golf Club of Oklahoma in Broken Arrow, halting Michael Hughett’s three-peat aspirations. This year it was Stansbury’s turn to pull the upset in the Territory’s second hosting of the event (2006).

“I don’t really have words for it,” Stansbury said. “I came out here hoping to play well. I know how many great golfers there are in the state of Oklahoma, and I’m just beyond words. I’m over the moon.”

For Wright, it was an impressive journey that ended just a little bit short. He said he wanted to go out and prove last year wasn’t a fluke. He did that by beating Hughett in the semifinals Wednesday.

“I’m extremely happy to be in the finals,” Wright said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t finish well, but John played well.

“I had a chance to close him out a couple of times, and I didn’t get the job done.”

The first chance came after Stansbury drilled his tee shot over the green on the 182-yard par-3 17th. However he collected himself to chip the ball to within 10 feet, though it was a downhill putt.

Wright marked his ball about 30 feet from the hole. Little did he know that a two putt would suffice to win the championship. Instead he left his second shot well short and finished with a bogey.

Stansbury missed his as well and the two went to the 18th tee with Wright still leading by one.

“I thought I had made that putt,” Stansbury said. “I was just disappointed on that, but when we went to the 18th tee, it’s a new hole.”

Stansbury got back into trouble with a wayward drive down the right-hand side of the 412-yard par-4, and Wright nailed his down the middle of the fairway. With two trees on his left and an open look to the green Stansbury prepared to hit his biggest shot of the tournament.

“I was very pleased to see the ball was sitting well,” Stansbury said. “All I was trying to do was go straight up and straight down with a three-iron and pop it towards the green. Fortunately it came out cleanly, rolled on the green and I was able to two-putt from about 60 feet.”

For the 19th hole, the golfers went to the 377-yard par-4 1st. They both hit the fairway, but Wright’s second shot landed in the bunker. Stansbury played a conservative shot to the front edge, and almost six hours after the original tee time, he was able to two-putt for the championship.

Before the round started rain pelted the course, delaying the tee time two and half hours. Stansbury admitted that it wasn’t fun having to wait, but said he enjoyed the time sharing stories with all the people involved in the tournament.

When the two teed off, they saw a completely different course than they had played in the first five rounds.

“The first three days the ball was running out 30 sometimes 40 yards, and it played much longer today,” Stansbury said. “The course was drained beautifully. We were playing with lift, clean and place, but I don’t think I had more than one or two mud balls all day.”

It was the fourth time the Territory had hosted an Oklahoma Golf association event. It held the Oklahoma State Amateur in 2009 and ‘04.

 

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