The Athlete of the Decade, one of the most popular sports figures of the 1960's or any other era, come to Wichita Falls for the 14th Annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament. And North Texas was never the same after Arnold Palmer's one day visit to conduct the golf clinic.
Over 5,000 golf fans from across the state jammed into Weeks Park Monday afternoon to attend Palmer's clinic and watch the golfing great play seven exhibition holes with four junior golfers. And no one was disappointed by what they saw.
Palmer may not have said anything new about golf, but the man kept his audience spellbound throughout the 45 minute clinic. Palmer showed his entire bag of tricks, hitting hooks and fades as he called them, low shots and high shots, and some screaming 300-yard drives while joking and signing autographs for the juniors.
In the exhibition match, Wichitan Bobby Harwell almost stole the show from the master as he eagled the first hole by canning a 100 foot chip and birdied the second hole in a dazzling display of golf. Also joining in the exhibition match were Oklahomans Mark DeBolt and Bruce Scott, and Texas junior star named Ben Crenshaw.
Crenshaw had realized a dream when he played with Palmer in the exhibition. But he had already made a name for himself at the tender age of 18 as the low amateur in that year's U.S. Open. And on Tuesday he showed some of that tremendous talent with a four-under-par 67 at Weeks Park to win medalist honors.
Crenshaw edged out Bobby LeCroix of Austin by a stroke. Harwell, DeBolt, Patrick Wheeler of Tyler and Bucky Sheffield of Lubbock also shattered the 70 mark with 69's. Harwell's round included a sparkling 31 on the back nine.
Crenshaw and San Antonio star Mike Hueginger set the pattern for the remainder of the tournament as they carded three-under-par 67's to share the first round lead after Wednesday's round at Skyline C.C. Wheeler and DeBolt carded 69's to tie for third.
Crenshaw was awesome from tee to green, hitting 3 greens in one under regulation (two par 5Õs and the par four 18th which he drove). He three-putted the final green to miss out on a 66.
Huebinger claimed the second round lead as action switched to the difficult Skyline course. His 1-under-par 71 was only one of two sub-par rounds of the day to put him one ahead of Crenshaw who matched par. The other sub-par rounds was by Arlington's David Payne who also shot 71 to trail by six shots. Wheeler managed a 74 to stay in third place five behind Huebinger.
In Friday's finals, it was a two-man show with Crenshaw and Huebinger outdistancing the field. Crenshaw took command in the morning round with a fine one-under-par 70 at Wichita Falls Country Club while Huebinger struggled to a 76. Crenshaw was able to extend his lead to six shots after an even-par front nine at Weeks Park in the afternoon round and seemed ready to make a rout of it. But a triple-bogey six on 10 and a bogey on 11 cut his advantage to two shots.
Huebinger still trailed by two going into the par 4 18th. It was here that Crenshaw got an incredible bit of luck that he'll never forget. Hesitant to hit the driver, the blond bomber switched to a 3-wood and then watched as the booming shot headed for the creek about 240 yards off the tee. But the ball, as if it had eyes, rolled across the bridge and wound up just 100 yards from the green in perfect position.
A grateful Crenshaw hit a wedge on the green and easily two putted for the two-shot win.
The only thing that could have made the 1970 Texas-Oklahoma Junior better after Palmer's appearance would have been another local champion. But Bobby Harwell, despite some great moments, couldn't compete with Ben Crenshaw and Mike Hueginger.
Crenshaw and Huebinger did not return for the 15th Annual T-O and local stars like David Norris and Scott Haynie hoped they could bring the city its second T-O Junior championship.
The 15th T-O Junior was to be one of the most bizarre in the tournament's history. Leaders would change as quickly as the weather and in the end the city realized its dream with a local junior's 11th hour charge netting him a stunning win.
Following visiting pro Billy Martindale's clinic, the juniors took to the course for qualifying. And it was 17-year-old Phil Green who took the medal with a 67 that spotted him a one-shot lead in the first round. Mark Witt of Irving was just one back and four golfers headed by Norris carded 69's.
As always, Sheppard proved troublesome for the juniors on Wednesday as Witt's 74 enabled him to move into a tie for the lead with Green who managed a 75. Steve Cook of Dallas also had a 74 to move within one stroke and John Adams of Midland and Don Robertson of Denton carded the only sub-par rounds of 71 to tie for the third spot.
A close tournament suddenly turned into a one-man show on Thursday as Robertson opened up a six-shot lead. His score was only one-over-par on Wichita Falls Country Club, but his competitors fell by the wayside. Cases in point: Green with 81. Cook with 83 and Witt withdrawing after unmentionable woes.
While Robertson was taking command on Thursday, Haynie had snuck into the picture, gaining ground despite a less-than impressive 76. In fourth place, eight behind Robertson. It seemed the best he could hope for was a shot at second place. But strange things can happen in the game of golf.
Robertson's task was simple in Friday's final round at Weeks Park. Just avoid disaster and coast to victory. But it was easier said than done.
Haynie got off to a slow start, bogeying three holes on the front nine, but still gaining ground on Robertson who turned in 41. Down by six with nine holes to play, he suddenly caught fire as Robertson continued to run off a long string of bogies.
While Robertson was bogeying 11, 12, 14, 15, and 16, Haynie was steadily gaining round with pars. A birdie on 15 brought him within a stroke and after another birdie on 16 he suddenly found himself in the lead.
Robertson moved back into a tie on 17 when he pared and Haynie bogied and they moved to the 18th hole all even.
Robertson hit first and hooked his tee shot behind some threes. Haynie then split the middle with his three wood and was just off the green with a six-iron approach shot. The pressure was on his opponent and he was unable to get close enough to make par. Haynie's tap-in enabled him to become the second Wichitan to ever win the T-O Junior.
Wichitans' hopes were high in the 16th Annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament after Scott Haynie's dramatic win the previous year. And Haynie was back to defend that title along with local talent like David Norris and Todd Finkler. But it was also a strong year for junior golfers outside the city as Lindy Miller of Fort Worth led an impressive group of Texans and Tommy Jones of Tulsa topped the Sooner list.
The T-O Junior featured a unique pre-tournament event this year pitting top Texas and Oklahoma players in a team competition. The Texans won the battle, but an Oklahoman would win the war. Following the golf clinic hosted by Texas pro J.W. McClure, the tournament got under way with opening day looking promising for city players as David Norris who carded a fine 3-under-par 68 to share medalist honors and the first round lead with Steve Walser of Oklahoma City. Wichitan Finkler was just a stroke back at 69, tied with John Hood of Borger and Mark Woolfe of Arlington. Haynie's even-par 71 left him only three back.
A scrambling 1-over-par 73 at Sheppard gave Norris solo leadership following Wednesday's round, but Miller's even-par 72 moved him with in a shot of the lead and a second place tie with Tim Wilson of Austin. Wilson was the golfer to break par at Sheppard with a one-under-par 71. Walser faded to 8 1 and dropped 8 strokes off the pace.
Thursday's round belonged to Jones; who fired a remarkable 3-under-par 68 at Wichita Falls Country Club to move from three shots back into a three shot lead. A hot putter and deadly iron game was instrumental in the Tulsan's success. Miller and Wilson both toured the Country Club course in 72 to remain in a second place tie. Norris met his Waterloo with a fat 83 that dropped him 12 back.
Jones was never challenged on Friday's final round at Weeks Park as he continued his red-hot putting on his way to a three-under-par 68 and a 72-hole total of 280 and a four-shot victory.
Miller's 69 enabled him to capture second place with a 284 total – good enough to win many past tournaments. Wilson finished third with a 285 total.
Fort Worth junior star Lindy Miller had to feel snakebit after finishing runner-up in the 16th Annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament. His 284 total would have been good enough to win most years. But not in 1972 as Tulsa's Tommy Jones was a shot better.
Unfortunately, for the 16-year-old Milier, Jones was back to defend his title. And in the end it would be the same pair that would battle for the championship. Another fine tour pro, Rives McBee, was in Wichita Falls to host the annual clinic and he echoed the sentiments of his predecessors – he'd never seen so many junior golfers in one place at one time. Over 400 showed up at Weeks Park Monday for the clinic.
Action got under way Tuesday, but neither of the co-favorites were able to take the first round lead. Instead it was Bill Sulley of Andrews, Texas, who whipped the North Texas winds to card a 69 and claim medalist honors at Weeks Park. Eddy Horn of Fort Worth and Miller were a stroke back with 70's and Jones fired a 72.
Sheppard manhandled much of the field in the second round, with the exception of Midland's Steve Cromwell, who shattered par with a 71 and climbed into a share of the lead with Horn at 143. The Fort Worth youngster scrambled his way to a 73 and Miller's 74 kept him just a stroke off the pace. Sulley wasn't as fortunate, staggering to an 83 and falling from contention.
Horn, the tournament's dark horse, seemed ready to take command in the third round as he played the front nine at Wichita Country Club in two-under-par to open a two stroke lead. But a pair of bogies on the back nine cut his lead to one stroke coming to the par four 17th. It was here that Horn lost the lead and his poise with a triple bogey 7 that enabled Miller to move ahead by a stroke. Miller's 1 -over-par 72 was one shot better than Horn and a charging Jones who had edged to within one after an even-par 71 – the best of the day.
Miller, Jones, Horn, and Craig Minnich were paired together for the final round and when the defending champion hooked his drive into the lake near No. 1 green his opponents might have breathed a sigh of relief. But it was a premature feeling as the Oklahoman scrambled for a par despite the penalty stroke and went on to shoot a two-under-par 33 and take the lead.
The par five 16th was the same story as Miller canned a birdie putt and then watched helplessly as Jones duplicated the feat. The dam finally broke on 17 as Miller bogied to take the pressure off.
Jones' brilliant five-under-par 66 had enabled him to become the first golfer in history of the T-O Junior to defend his title.
Seventeen-year-old Fort Worth junior golf star Lindy Miller was already being called the state's next Ben Crenshaw. But he had something to prove at the 18th Annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament.
That year's tournament would be even more demanding. It would be expanded to a 90-hole competition with 18 holes at Sheppard and Wichita Falls, Country Clubs and 54 holes at Weeks Park. Texas pro Joe Black was the clinic host.
In Monday's opening round, the trio of Mike Unsell, Dallas; Bobby Heath, Stillwater; and Dan Cronquist of St. Paul, Minn. carded three-under-par 68's to share the lead and medalist honors. Ardmore's Jim Davidson was alone in second place with a 69 while Miller was three strokes off the pace with an even-par 71 at Weeks Park.
Unsell, the principle Sooner hope, took the second round lead with an even-par 71 at Weeks Park as high winds made the scores soar. His 139 total was a stroke better than Heath and Craig Parton of Houston. Midwest City's John Grier was alone at 141. Miller could do no better than 143 and trailed by four. Tied with Miller was Wichitan Gary Johnson who made the biggest move of the day with a one-under-par 70.
Thursday's round at the tight Wichita Falls Country Club would be the turning point, and it was Miller who cashed in as expected. The Texan matched par 71, the best round of the day, to move into the lead with 18 holes to play. His 289 total was a stroke better than Unsell who carded a one-over-par 72. Heath was in third place at 294.
Miller not only played good, but got a lucky break on the 18th hole that kept him in the lead. His tee shot hooked towards the out-of-bounds, but struck a golf bag and bounced back unto the fairway to save a couple of strokes. He hit a short iron on the green and two-putted for par.
No one really expected him to fold in Friday's final 18 holes at Weeks Park and they were right. Miller overcame an early charge by Unsell to win by three shots and nab the title he had wanted so badly.
A Sherman, Texas golfer who went on to become one of the top PGA pros was on hand for the 19th Annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament. That golfer was Miller Barber, the 9th millionaire in golf history, who humbly said that he was honored to be invited to the T-O Junior.
"These fellows will someday be standing in my shoes," Barber said. "You never know, we might have another Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer here with us today."
Defending champion Lindy Miller was not back and it was an Oklahoman duo of Jim Woodward of Oklahoma City and Greg Small of Midwest City who shared the first round lead with one-under-par 70's. Another Midwest City junior. John Grier, headed a group of four just a stroke back. Grier had led last year's tournament at the end of two rounds. Wichitan Todd Finkler, hoping to be the third local champion, headed a group of seven golfers at 72. Also in that group were Mike Unsell of Dallas and Bobby Heath of Stillwater. Woodward handled the brutal Sheppard course in one-over-par 73 fashion Wednesday to open up a four shot lead as his nearest challengers fell off the pace. It was Philip Vescovo of Austin who moved into second place with a 147 total. Small staggered to an 81 and Finkler, the main local hope, struggled to 84.
If Sheppard wasn't bad enough, Wichita Falls Country Club was playing tougher than ever on Thursday as Woodward could manage only 77, but still held on to a three shot lead. Only Heath could make up ground on Woodward with a fine one-over-par 72 to cut his deficit from eight to three shots.
If Woodward was at all shaken by his troubles at the Country Club, he didn't show it in Friday's final round at Weeks Park. Instead, he was the picture of consistency, firing an even-par 71 to cruise to an eight stroke win over Heath and another T-O Junior title for Oklahoma.
Wichita Falls juniors hoping to win a third title for the city in 20 years were given a good chance in the 20th annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament. John Corbin, Bill Sullivan, and Doug Barber headed that list. Only Mike Castles in 1966 and Scott Haynie in 1971 had turned the trick successfully.
A famous older brother of a former champion was the guest professional as Jacksboro native Don Massengale came to town Monday to put on the annual clinic. At the banquet later that evening, he pointed out that young players coming out of the fine junior golf programs were now dominating the tour. But he added that the competition was rough and that young players shouldn't rush off to play the tour.
A drenching rain Tuesday night made the Sheppard course play even longer than its normal 7200 yards, but Lawrence Field fashioned a fine 72 that was "better than my 69 yesterday," and built his lead to four. Biff Johnson of Richardson also carded an even-par 72 to vault into second place.
After two fine rounds gave him only a fairly secure four-stroke advantage. Field had to be surprised when a three-over-par 74 at Wichita Falls Country Club enabled him to open up a 10-shot lead on Wednesday.
The lead was the largest since Tom Kite had carried an 11-shot bulge into the final round of the 1968 tournament and had the rest of the field muttering to themselves. "There's no way anyone can catch him – they might as well call off the final round," said Jackson, who faltered to an 80 and remained in a second-place tie. But the player he was tied with, Larry Seligmann, of Sugarland, Texas didn't share his sentiments. Seligmann might have to shoot a 65 or 66, but nothing was impossible as he proved when he played the first seven holes in Friday's round five-under par at Weeks Park. But despite that superb start, he could only gain three strokes on the front nine as Lawrence Field carded a two under par 33. Field coasted home with a 74 and a seven-shot win.
History was made in more than one way in the 21st Annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior golf Tournament as bad weather, women's liberation and fate would all play a role.
Defending champion Lawrence Field was back hoping to join an elite group with another T-O Junior win. There were only two two-time champions and one who had defended their title successfully since the tournament began.
Professional golfer and television commentator David Marr was the guest for the golf clinic, but the colorful personality took a back seat to 15-year-old Kim Dicks of Fort Worth.
The Texas girls made history when they became the first females to ever compete in the T-O Junior. But the spotlight was on a pair of Oklahomans, Pete Thomas of Bethany and Stanley Talbott of Snyder, who shot 69's to lead the championship flight at the end of the first round. Hugh Vaughn, from Hershey, Penn., was in third place with a 70. The second round results at Wichita Falls Country Club looked more like temperature readings than golf scores. Talbott stuggled to 78, but still shared the lead with San Angelo's Marshall Brown who shot a 76 to go with his first round.
Defending champion Lawrence Field was about to catch the leaders until he finished bogey, bogey, double-bogey on the last three holes for a 79 that kept him five shots back.
But the tough Sheppard course gave Field his chance to make up ground on the leaders and Seabrook's Mike Zarcaro fashioned a one-over-par 73 to move into second place.
However, the tournament was not decided on the golf course, but ultimately by the weather. Hard rains Friday night made Weeks Park unplayable and club pro Joe Collins decided to cancel the final round – the first time in the history of the tournament a round was canceled. That left Field as the champion for the second year in a row.
Lawrence Field wasn't back for a record third shot at winning the Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf tournament, but some promising new prospects were ready to show their stuff as scores in Monday's qualifying round were as hot as the weather.
John Slaughter of Abilene and Donnie Kelly of Belton sizzled to four-under-par 67's to take the first round lead at Weeks Park and Conroe's Tom Dunn was just a stroke back at 68.
Clayton Cole, the Dallas Country Club golf professional, conducted a clinic Tuesday afternoon to interrupt the tournament action, but it was well worth it for junior golfers who had the opportunity to listen to one of the top teaching pros in the state.
The Wichita Falls Country Club gave everyone fits on Wednesday as though pin placements and Texas heat caused scores to soar. A hot putter was the difference for Kelly as he used only 11 putts on the final nine holes to save some important pars. But he still had 18 holes to play at Weeks Park and bigger leads than had been overcome on the final day. It became obvious early into the final round that if anyone was going to catch Kelly it would be Mark Brooks. The pre-tournament favorite soon passed Slaughter and set his sights on Kelly whose putter had cooled off a bit from Thursday.
Brooks overcame an out-of-bounds on No. 4 to birdie six and seven and turn the front nine in even par. Meanwhile, Kelly had more than his share of problems with a rocky 41 that cut his lead to two. Slaughter finished third, six shots behind Kelly and three behind Brooks.
Ben Crenshaw's return was the big story in the 23rd Annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament. It seemed like only yesterday that Crenshaw was wrapping up the 1970 T-O Junior title with his historic 3-wood that rolled across the bridge on 18. Nearly a decade later, he was back as the guest pro in the 23rd Annual T-O Junior. The blond bomber had just come off the tour where he was runner-up the previous week in the Western Open, but now he was in Wichita Falls to delight a few hundred juniors on hand to see his clinic.
He was also on hand for the dedication of "Crenshaw's Bridge," where youngsters gathered around to hear him recount the story of his good fortune there when he won the T-O Junior nine years before. In Tuesday's first round day, an unknown from Longview, Texas by the name of Eric Joseph grabbed the lead with a two-under-par 70 at Weeks Park. Griffin was just a stroke back at 71 and seven golfers including Kelly were tied with even-par 72's.
On Wednesday, the scene shifted to the demanding Wichita Falls Country Club and the scores began to rise. First round leader Joseph slipped to a 6-over-par 74 to grab a share of the lead with a youngster from Norman, Oklahoma by the name of Richard Ryden.
Thursday's round at Sheppard AFB was a turning point as high winds and long layout turned the tournament into a two-man race. While Ryden managed a scrambling even-par 72 to remain tied for the lead, it was Briggs who turned in the day's best round – a one-under-par 71 – to tie for the lead. Griffin slipped four strokes off the pace with a 76.
Friday's final round was a two-man show with Ryden and Briggs battling head-to-head most of the way, but in the end it was Briggs who got the best of the duel. His one-under-par 71 to a two-shot win. His 72 hole total was 287 with Ryden finishing at 289. Herbert Ames took third place with a 293 total and Griffin completed play at 294 to gain fourth place.