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June 19, 2014

Stansbury and Wright meet in OSA final

DUNCAN — After a round of stroke play and four rounds of match play, defending champion Kirk Wright and newcomer John Stansbury will face off for the Oklahoma Senior Amateur title at The Territory Golf Course Thursday.

Wright, who won the event at the Golf Club of Oklahoma in Broken Arrow in his first time playing, defeated Michael Hughett the 2011 and 12 champion in the semifinals Wednesday.

Both the players, who had played in the final last year, were deadlocked for most of the round, but back-to-back birdies helped Wright clinch his second straight final appearance with a par-4 on 405-yard 16th.

“He’s an extremely good player so I know it was going to be a tough day to get through,” Wright said. “I kind of feel like a giant killer today. I got the best of him, but I know that can turn at any time.”

Stansbury, the No. 7 seed, wasted no time getting ahead of No. 3 seed Michael Koljack. With a comfortable four-hole lead, the 56-year-old bombed his drive down the middle of the fairway setting up a great opportunity to close out the match.

After Koljack sent his second bouncing over the green, Stansbury tried a “trick shot” instead of playing it safe. He ended up in the front bunker. Stansbury didn’t take long when lining up his sand shot and rolled it to within 25 feet.

Stansbury rolled in the putt to advance to the final in his first time playing in the tournament.

“After my second shot I didn’t think (I had a chance to win it on this hole),” Stansbury said. “I’m over the moon... It’s a great honor and great pleasure.”

Stansbury coasted through most of the match-play portion of the event with his toughest match coming in the first round versus Michael Goold of Blanchard. For the rest of the tournament, the man who had spent the last 13 years in England didn’t have to tee off on the 17th or 18th holes.

Wright had a much different journey. Because he was the reigning champion he was automatically qualified for the match-play portion as the No. 1 seed. After cruising past the first two opponents Tuesday, Wright ran into some trouble with Edmond’s John Valuck.

Wright pulled out the victory, but it took 19 holes. Part of the problem was the howling wind, which wreaked havoc on the golfer with the open course layout.

“The afternoons have been extremely windy,” Wright said. “It just makes a lot of shots that we normally wouldn’t hit that you have to bear down and get a lot of extra clubs.”

Facing off against Hughett didn’t make things any easier. On the 510-yard par-5 11th it looked like Wright received a good break when Hughett hit a barrage of bad shots to start the hole. However he was able to scramble to make a bogey, and Wright’s putt to win the hole lipped out.

The two matched each other for the next two holes, culminating on the 146-yard par-3 13th where both knocked their tee shots to within 10 feet.

“He hits first and knocks it in there three or four feet from the hole,” Wright said. “So, yeah it puts just a little bit of pressure on you to think, ‘Aw I’ve got to knock this stiff just to try to even have a chance.’”

The final pairing will tee off at 8 a.m.

 

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