by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
At 5-foot-7 and weighing all of 135 pounds, 16-year-old Patrick Neal proved to be the No. 1 heavyweight in the rain-shortened 44th annual Wyandotte County Open at Sunflower Hills Saturday.
Firing a near record 5-under par 67, Neal finished three shots in front of the largest and deepest field in the past decade (six past champions) in Kansas City’s longest running amateur tournament that had to be shortened to 18 holes because of rain and lightning Sunday.
Posting seven birdies, Neal’s 67 was just two shots short of the all-time tourney record of 65 posted by Kyle Ritchie in 2013 and one of only a few sub-70 rounds in the 44-year history of the tourney.
Parker Miller, the 2016 and 2017 champion, was Neal’s closest challenger with a 2-under 70 that would have led many past tournaments. Nicklaus Mason was third with a par 72 with three past champions sharing third with 73’s – Scott Mason (1995), Kevin Rome (2018) and defending champion Steve Groom, who was seeking a record seventh title.
Neal started the day with a birdie on the par ninth hole but was only even on the back nine, offsetting birdies on the par 5, 505-yard No. 11 and 229-yard par 3 16th with his only bogeys of the day at Nos. 12 and 14.
But he turned in a 5-under 31 on the front nine, thanks to a putter that turned red hot with birdies on the first three holes with putts of 15, 6 and 25 feet along with a couple of other near misses before running in a 15-footer for birdie on his final hole, No. 8.
“I really wanted to make that last one to finish off the round,” Neal said. “My putting was pretty good. I think I only missed one putt that I thought I should have made.”
Despite his lack of size, Neal averages 285 yards off the tee and his birdie on No. 3 came after a drive of more than 300 yards. And the 67 wasn’t his all-time best. He previously recorded a round of 60 in a tournament at Emporia Country Club. A junior-to-be at Olathe North, Neal had his high school season wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.
Seeking his third title in five years, Parker Miller birdied three of the first five holes on the front nine on the way to a 3-under 33 but bogeys at Nos. 12 and 16 left him one over on the back nine. His putt for birdie on No. 9 was the longest of the day.
“I played well, putted well on the front nine,” said Miller, who literally came to the course from work.
Unfortunately, the weather erased what might have been a dandy duel between Neal and Miller the final 18 holes.
“You always want to play as many holes as you can to find a winner,” Miller said.
“Disappointed but there’s next year,” said Groom, who was one under on the back nine but two over on the front.
Flight winners were John Sample, Jeb Ummel, Bailey Dixon, Paul Perry and Jay Sutera. The tourney drew 90 golfers.
Ex-Piper star Lamberd wins WyCo Women’s Open at age 19
by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Brooklynn Lamberd broke out a new driver for the 2020 Wyandotte County Open but it was a putter that turned torrid that carried her to the rain-shortened women’s championship at Sunflower Hills.
A former Piper High School standout, the 19-year-old sophomore-to-be at Baker University fired an 18-hole round of 84 that bested the largest women’s field in years by three strokes Saturday before rain and lightning wiped out Sunday’s scheduled final round. She validated her putting touch by winning Kansas City’s longest putt contest on Sunflower Hills’ putting green.
The driver gave Lamberd an edge off the tee and the putter sealed the three-shot win over Pat Seber-Bradley, the defending champion who was seeking a record 12th ladies championship. Donna Reid, a four-time champion, finished third.
“We both played pretty steady,” Seber-Bradley said. “Neither one of us were in real trouble but it came down to putting – she made a few more than I did. She hits the ball farther than I do but I was disappointed we didn’t get to play the final 18 holes. I was ready.”
Starting on the tough par 3 16th hole, Lamberd trailed the first 11 holes in her head-to-head match with Seber-Bradley. She finally went 1-up with her only birdie of the day on No. 9 and then one-putted three of the next four holes for pars on the way to opening a four-shot lead.
“My putting started really bad,” said Lamberd, who trailed by two shots just four holes into the round. “I finally relaxed and started getting my putting together after six or seven holes and really got it going on the back nine. My goal was to avoid double bogeys (she had three) and three-putting (three of each). And I had a new driver so that was beneficial.”
Playing in the WyCo Open for the third straight year, Lamberd finished second a year ago and sixth in 2018. A four-year letter-winner at Piper, she won one tournament and qualified for the state tournament in each of her last three seasons. She qualified for a couple of varsity tournaments in her freshman season at Baker last fall only to have the spring season wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.
Donna Nelson edged Lori Gorman in a scorecard playoff to win the ladies B flight and Leslie Taylor won the C flight.
44th Wyandotte County Open
Championship Flight – 1. Patrick Neal, 67; 2. Parker Miller, 70; 3. Nicklaus Mason, 72; 4. (tie) Steve Groom, Scott Mason, Kevin Rome, 73.
A – 1. John Sample, 72; 2. Zim Appl* , 77; 3. Michael Moore, 77; 4. (tie) Jerry Reid, Brian Shatto; 6. Brian Perdieu.
B – 1. Jeb Ummel, 75; 2. Brian Taylor, 77; 3. Ed McFadden, 77; 4. Jim Yoakum, 78; 5. Ian Bayless, 79; 6. Mike McNellis, 79.
C – 1. Bailey Dixon, 78; 2. Jerry Lamb*, 82; 3. (tie) Bob Chatterton, Brad Burton, 82; 5. Phil Hoffman, 83; 6. Yung Ro Yung, 85.
D – 1. Paul Perry, 82; 2. Brad Appl, 83; 3. Ted Brecheigen, 84; 4. Jerry Verbeck, 85. 5. (tie) Tony Reed, Phil Stines, 86.
E – 1. Jay Sutera, 89; 2. Will Brown, 90; 3. Logan Wright, 91; 4w. (tie) Adam Maskill, Doug Winkelbauer, 93.
A – 1. Brooklynn Lamberd, 84; 2. Pat Seber-Bradley, 87; 3. Donna Reid, 96.
B – 1. Donna Nelson*, 100; 2. Lori Gorman, 100; 3. Ann Welsh, 100.
C – 1. Leslie Taylor, 106; 2. Linda Hume*, 108; 3. Beth Schmidt, 108.
• Won scorecard playoff.
Kansas City’s longest putt – Brooklynn Lamberd. Closest to the pin – Les Damlo, No. 4; Mike Super, No. 8; Jerry Lamb, No. 13; Tom Bachelor, No. 16. Long putt No. 9, Parker Miller. Long drive No. 10, Kevin Rome.