The Bravado Wireless Real Okie Championship tees off this morning
Defending champion Corey Churchman missed a practice round Sunday and was a scratch in the pro-am due to a family issue back home in Fort Worth.
He’ll come in raw yet rested for a 7:30 a.m. tee time, the first tee time of the day, but with the knowledge that he’s done well here (7-under, 273 last year) in what has been a challenging year so far. He’s had three top 20 finishes in seven events but the highest of those was 15th July 15-18 at the Texarkana Children’s Charities Open. He missed the cut last week at Fort Smith, Ark.
He also has a second outside the tour at the Texas State Open.
“I’ve done enough to make a few clutch putts and making cuts and yet not getting the putts to fall on the weekend,” he said. “When my ball striking is not as sharp, I’m not giving myself as many chances.”
But his putting was the key to his game here last year.
“Knowing that, it’s certainly a shot of confidence because I really putted well there,” he said. “To play well you don’t have to play four great rounds, you have to have some stretches where you do something special and hold it together the rest of the time. If I can do that, I feel I can make a run again.”
Oklahoma State ex Sam Stevens of Fort Worth comes in as the tour’s top money winner at $73,063 after his 21-under 259 and a four-shot victory at Fort Smith on Saturday. Greg Eason of Kissimmee, Florida, is second at $59,648. Ryan Baca, a Baylor ex who was third at 16-under last week, is third. Of the top 10 money winners, 1-7 are here including, in order, Derek Oland of Plano, Texas; Zach Bauchou of Forest, Va., Brendon Jelley of Tulsa, and Chandler Phillips of Huntsville, Texas.
Bauchou and Jelley were teammates at Oklahoma State with Stevens in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18, the final year being a national title year for the Cowboys.
Up a level
This will be tall competition for Muskogee High junior Mesa Falleur — the only high school player in this.
He shrugs at the stage.
“It’s just golf,” said Falleur, who will play as an amateur, during a break in a practice round Monday. “Better competition.”
Not that he hasn’t seen tough competition. He’s a two-time qualifier for the Oklahoma Golf Association’s State Amateur championship.
He’s played this one, in his estimate, 150 times. That would equal the practice rounds of 150 entrants, some of which are two and three-time repeat contestants.
But there’s certainly familiarity with the course. He said his best game off the gold tee, which will be used this week, is 6-under 64.
“Most of the tee shots, they like to hit draws and I predominantly play a draw off the tee box,” he said.
The other two local amateurs are older — Hilldale grads Colby Cox and Grant Sikes. Those two are in a threesome with Taylor Owens of Tulsa. Falleur tees off with Julian Taylor of York, England and Casey Fernandez of Durant. The former group tees off on 1, the latter 10, both at 9:45 a.m.
Tee-off times are on page 2.
Pro Brandon Pierce with Mark Pearson, Cody Nideffer and Mark Dixon won the Pro-Am in a scorecard playoff with Jelley and Craig Glover, Ty Glover and Matt Eyler.
Two strokes back were pro Mitchell Meissner with Tim Payne and Chris Shook, pro Nick Arman with Mike Webb, John Hammer and Brad Huddleston, and pro Grant Bennett with Beth Presley, Darryl Presley and Cody Pugh. Full results are at muskgeephoenix.com/sports.