by Alan Hoskins
Parker Miller has cemented himself as Wyandotte County’s best amateur golfer.
Just a week after winning the club championship over a star-studded field at Dub’s Dread, the 23-year-old Parker Sunday became the first back-to-back Wyandotte County Open champion at Sunflower Hills since Steve Groom won three in a row in 2006-2008.
However, it did not come without some late help from playing partner Micah Morris, who saw a two-shot lead with two holes to go evaporate in a nightmarish finish on the 569-yard 17th hole.
“I snap-hooked my tee shot out of bounds,” said Morris, a sophomore on the Kansas City Kansas Community College golf team. Playing a provisional second drive, Morris snap-hooked another shot behind a tree but then made a remarkable recovery shot to about 20 feet from the flag.
With Miller safely in with a par, Morris’ fast-breaking putt for bogey and a one-shot lead dropped a foot below the hole, close enough for a tap-in – except the putt spiraled out, stopping two feet away and when that putt missed for a quadruple bogey nine, Miller needed only a routine par four on the final hole for a 36-hole 147 that was two shots better than Morris.
“I felt bad for him,” Miller said. “Everyone’s been there. It’s not fun going through that. When he hit it out-of-bounds on No. 17, I thought he’d probably make bogey at best, maybe double bogey and we’d be tied.”
“I don’t know what happened on the (short) putt,” said a disappointed Morris. “I had really played well on the back nine.”
Trailing by two shots going into the back nine, Morris got one stroke back when Parker missed the green on the difficult par 3 13th, went ahead on No. 14 with a 25-foot birdie putt while Parker bogeyed and then added another shot to the lead when Miller couldn’t get up and down for a par on the long par 3 16th.
“I thought it was pretty much over after No. 16,” Miller said. “I struggled off the tee and kind of grinded and fought through things most of the day.”
For the first 18 holes, the 41st annual WyCo Open was one of the closest in recent years with six golfers within four shots. Morris led with a par 72 followed by Parker (73), 2013 champion Kyle Ritchie (74), Garrett Clark and Brian Shatto (both 75) and 2015 winner Reece Nigh (76) but back-to-back birdies at Nos. 5 and 6 vaulted Miller to a one-under front nine 35 and only Morris was able to stay close.
Miller wouldn’t compare his back-to-back titles although “The first was awfully fun.” No newcomer to the WyCo Open, Miller finished second a few years back while still in high school at Piper. Today, he’s in his third year working for Atmos Energy and just a weekend golfer “having fun.”
Morris, meanwhile, has to re-live the 17th hole almost every day. A native of Guthrie, Okla., but now a KCK resident after enrolling at KCKCC more than a year ago, Morris is on the grounds-keeping staff at Sunflower Hills where he runs a mower. “I hope I learned a lot,” he said.
Five flight winners were also crowned – Jerry Reid in a scorecard playoff over Carter Likes in A flight; Rick Richardson (B), Gary Burgess (C), Jerry Lamb (D) and Greg Schmidt (E).
41st Wyandotte County Open
Championship – 1. Parker Miller, 147; 2. Micah Morris, 149; 3. Garrett Clark, 151; 4. (tie) Kyle Ritchie, Brian Shatto, Reece Nigh.
A – 1. Jerry Reid*, 151; 2. Carter Likes, 151: 3. (tie) Mark Kessler, Chris Faddis, 153; 5. (tie) Kevin Rome, Tim Skorija.
B – 1. Rick Richardson, 154; 2. Dale Nash*, 157; 3. Easton Nigh, 157; 4. (tie) Jason Cash, Ken Carpenter, 158); 6. Bill Campbell, 162.
C – 1. Gary Burgess, 165; 2. Russell Nigh, 166; 3. (tie) Gary Yoder, Jeb Ummel, 169; 5. Roger DeLong, 170; 6. Kyle Norris, 173.
D – 1. Jerry Lamb, 168; 2. Mike Gillaspie, 171; 3. (tie) Todd Pfeiffer, Tony Reed, 173; 5. Doug Winkelbauer, 177; 6. David Weaver, 179.
E – 1. Greg Schmidt, 190; 2. Josh Marmon, 192; 3. Dan Ksiazek, 193; 4. Ted McClellan, 196; 5. Mark Saldivar, 200; 6. Roy Taylor, 207.
A – 1. Nichole Wiehe-Hankins, 178; 2. Donna Reid*, 180; 3. Pat Seber-Bradley, 180.
B – 1. Leslie Taylor, 206; 2. Carilyn Riley, 212; 3. Cathy Reed, 213.
Saturday – Closest to the pin; Easton Nigh, No. 4; David Weaver, No. 8; Tim Skorija, No. 13 and No. 16. Straightest drive No. 6, Willie Lara; Longest putt No. 9, Jeb Ummel; Long drive, No. 10, Easton Nigh. Kansas City’s longest putt, Les Damlo.
Sunday – Closest to the pin: Dan Crabtree, No. 4; Ken Carpenter, No. 8; Nichole Wiehe-Hankins, No. 13; Kevin Rome, No. 16. Longest putt No. 9 – Tim Skorija. Long drive No. 10 – Kevin Rome.