The tournament may be called The Railer, but for the second time in the four-year history of the Kansas Golf Association Stroke Play Championships, the open title went to the Sooner State.
Max McGreevy of Edmond, Okla., shot a two-under par 70 Sunday in the final round to finish at 214 and win the open division by three strokes over Harry Higgs of Overland Park.
McGreevy was even par through 15 holes in the final round Sunday, posting birdies on holes seven and 12 and bogeys on three and 11. He carded an eagle three on the 525-yard par 5 16th hole to give himself breathing room, finishing even par on the last two holes.
"It was just a steady round," McGreevy said. "The wind was up, and I knew it was going to be a tough round. I wanted to get a bunch of pars and be around at the end to give myself a chance."
It was McGreevy's first time at Sand Creek Station.
"I've heard a lot about it, but I never played it," he said. "The first round, there wasn't much wind, and I didn't think much of it. The second round, the wind really kicked up and I saw the teeth of it. It was pretty tough. My dad was caddying. He got me to slow down. He made me keep a cool head — not get too mad if it goes bad, and not get to excited if it goes good. I just tried to keep an even keel."
McGreevy entered the final round tied with Chase Hanna of Leawood, but Hanna struggled early in the final round and McGreevy was able to pull away late.
"The first couple holes, our whole group was struggling," McGreevy said. "We were all just fighting to keep it in. I luckily chipped in on 16 for eagle. I knew I had a pretty good chance of winning it from there."
McGreevy took second at the Southwest Amateur in Phoenix earlier this summer.
McGreevy just finished at Edmond Santa Fe High School, where he was a two-time Oklahoma Class 6A state champion. He begins play this fall at the University of Oklahoma.
"I'm only about an hour away, so I'm pretty excited," McGreevy said.
Higgs, a senior to be at Southern Methodist, opened his final round bogey, quadruple-bogey, bogey, bogey to sit at seven-over par on his first four holes.
Higgs then scored three straight birdies en route to a four-over 40 on the front nine. He opened the back nine with two birdies on the first four holes. An eagle on 16 got him back to par on the final round and pulled him into second place.
"I made a few poor decisions with clubs off the tee to start," Higgs said. "I got out of what I was trying to do, and what I did the first two rounds. I had two bad shots on two and made a nine, so that wasn't any good. I played OK on three and four. Then I told myself I could get it back. I didn't think I could get it all the way back, but I could get a few back and have a good finish. The shots started falling in. I had good tee balls kept in play. I had a chance to get on top, but Max had a great day. It's hard to beat that."
Higgs missed the NCAA regionals the past two seasons, but he has a goal to get there this year.
"We're coming in hungry," Higgs said. "We want to make it all the way through to the NCAA Championships, which is down the road at Prairie Dunes (outside of Hutchinson). That would be a cool way to end my college career. That's a tough course. I saw it when the (US) Senior Open was there. I played it when the state am was there. I did not play well. I would love to be there to play for a national championship."
Higgs had experience at Sand Creek Station coming in, playing at the Railer and Kansas Amateur last year.
"I loved it here," Higgs said.
Pete Krsnich of Wichita, Ryley Haas of Lawrence, Calvin Pearson of Wichita, Alex Carney of Wichita and Sam Stevens of Wichita all tied for third at 220. Hanna finished in eighth at 221. David Klaudt of Dallas was ninth at 22 and defending champion Jack Courington of Wichita was 10th at 224.
Krsnich tied for low round honors Sunday with a 70. Gregory Sharp of Lawrence had Saturday's low round of 70.
The sole local entry was Lane Pauls of Newton, who tied for 84th at 252.
Defending senior champion Steve Newman of Wichita became the tournament's first two-time winner, finishing first with a three-under par 213. Newman had the low rounds of the tournament Friday and Saturday at 69 and 70 respectively. He finished with a 77.
Randy Vautravers of Andover took second at 217, followed by Don Kuehn of Kansas City, Mo., at 221, Tracy Chamberlin of Wichita in fourth at 223 and Russ Henry of Wichita in fifth at 225.