Historical Write-Ups ’50s

1956

After Thompson was eliminated, the attention shifted to 16-year-old Jerry Holmes, another fine city player who qualified for the final foursome. Kizziar, Holmes, Amarillo’s Robert Tennant and Houston’s Bryant ?Babe? Hiskey were the four finalist who teed it up Thursday to decide who would claim the first T-O Junior Title.

Tennant took the lead at the end of the first 18 holes with an even-par 71. Holmes, with a huge gallery cheering him on, stayed in the hunt just three shots back. Hiskey carded a 75.

But on the final 18 Hiskey showed some of the talent that would enable him to become a fine tour professional in the years to come. With a hot putter and some pinpoint shotmaking, Hiskey fired a four-under-par 67 on the final 18 to turn a close tournament into a runaway.

Holmes, who would gain a reputation as the perennial bridesmaid in this tournament, finished second five shots back. Tennant, tiring in the hot Texas afternoon, faded to a 78 in the final round to finish third.

The first T-O Junior was history, but it was only the beginning of a golf tournament, which would grow into one of the most important events in the Southwest.

1957

The first Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament was held in conjunction with the 7th Annual Texas-Oklahoma Senior. The Senior T-O was already an established invitational that drew the best players in the two-state area. This first junior tournament was the brainstorm of the Weeks Park Men’s Golf Association and the Wichita Falls, Parks-Recreation Department.

The idea behind the T-O Junior was to encourage junior golfers by giving them their own tournament in which to compete. It was the first of its kind in the two-state area and drew 118 entries in its inaugural year.

The pre-tournament favorite was a Wichita Falls High student named Rocky Thompson. The 17-year-old Thompson had already established himself as one of the most promising junior golfers in the area, but the T-O Junior would elude him as it did some many fine city players.

Mark Kizziar, an 18-year-old Altus, Okla., standout fired a brilliant 2-under-par 69 on Monday to take the medalist honors. That fine round was only the beginning of the sub-par golf in the junior tournament.

The T-O Junior was set up with a match play format except for the final 36 holes of the championship flight, which would be medal play. On Tuesday, Denton’s Don Hurst eliminated Thompson in a first-round match, 2-1. Thompson went on the claim the consolation title that year with a 4-under-par 68 in the final round.

1958

The second annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament was held separately from the Senior T-O since it had already established itself in a single year as a popular event.

The second T-O Junior drew an incredible 192 junior golfers, which caused problems for the Weeks Park Golf Association. In a effort to promote junior golf, the sponsors had decided to allow each junior to play in the tournament for free. Not only was there no entry fee, but the tournament sponsors took the responsibility of finding housing for all of the young golfers during their stay in Wichita Falls.

Some free accommodations were provided at the Midwestern State University dormitories, but many Wichitan’s opened their homes to house boys commuting from the two-state area. The golfers were also provided free meals, so the entire week cost them nothing more than the price of gasoline, (which wasn’t much in those days).

The city hopefuls that year included the 1957 runner-up Jerry Holmes and Rocky Thompson. But a strong field of players, including Oklahoma State University freshman Labron Harris, Jr., also had visions of a T-O Junior title dancing in their heads.

Qualifying was scheduled for Wednesday, but rain interrupted play and delayed the tournament a day. On Thursday, Holmes gave his hometown fans something to brag about by taking medalist honors with an even-par 71. Thompson was also impressive with a 73.

The highlight of Friday’s action was a semifinal match between brothers Jerry and Doug Holmes for the right to compete in the final foursome Saturday. It was the first time 17-year-old Jerry and 15-year-old Doug had ever faced each other in competition. But experience was the difference as Jerry, determined to win this year’s tournament, fired a two-under-par 69 to win the match 6-5.

Friday was also another disappointment for Wichitan Rocky Thompson who was upset by Spike Eoff of Duncan, Okla., 2-1. The semifinal loss was the end of Thompson’s T-O Junior career since he would be turning 19 and be ineligible the following year.

The final four this year included Holmes, Eoff, Billy Wiggs of Denton and Ross Teeter of Austin. They put on quite a show in one of the closest T-O Juniors in history.

It looked like Holmes would nab the title as he continued to play good, steady golf. His 73 on the first 18 led Tetter by a stroke, and he built that lead to three shots at the end of 27 holes. But that lead disappeared with bogies on 10, 11 and 13 to set up the first sudden-death playoff.

Wiggs and Eoff, who stayed close until the final nine holes, finished two and four strokes back respectively, the difference between a three-way playoff.

In the playoff, Holmes saw his hopes dashed when his tee shot found the lake on the left side of the green. Teeter birdied to wrap up the title and make Holmes the runner-up for the second straight year.

1959

Jerry Holmes, eager to shake his bridesmaid reputation after two successive second place finishes, was the pre-tournament favorite for the third annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament.

It was the 18-year-old’s last chance to win the tournament and he had come so close to winning the previous year that he could almost taste a win. Another fine city player, A.C. King, was also given a chance to bring the city its first T-O Junior title.

The format of the tournament was changed this year to medal play for championship flight. In the previous events, players competed in match play on the first two days and then the final four played 36 holes of medal play. A record 205 junior golfers entered.

Rain postponed the first day of qualifying again that year, but the wet conditions didn’t hinder a Borger, Texas youth named Jerry Abbott. Abbott fired a sizzling five-under-par 66 the following day to easily win the medal.

Pete Hatchell of Oklahoma City grabbed the first round lead, Friday, with an even par 71. Holmes and Abbott carded 72s to trail by a single stroke. Defending champion Ross Teeter struggled to a 77 under difficult weather conditions.

Another 1-1/2 inches of rain caused a delay in Saturday’s second round, but Holmes came in an even-par 71 to tie Hatchett at 143 with Sunday’s 36-hole final ahead.

The largest gallery in the tournament’s young history turned out Sunday to see if Holmes could finally break his runner-up streak, but it was not to be as Hatchett toured the first 18 holes in 69 to open a five-shot lead.

Hatchett was able to coast home with a 71 in the afternoon round to finish with a one-under-par 283 and win the tournament by six shots – the biggest margin of history to that date.

Holmes’ 289 total was good for another second place finish and to this date he’s still the only golfer to finish runner-up three times. Teeter rallied for a third place finish with a 295 total.

 

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