Stevens edges Wilhoit for Sand Creek title

Mark Schnabel
Wichita native Sam Stevens, now of Fort Worth, won the first APT Sand Creek Championships on Thursday. Stevens returns to the course Monday for the Wichita Open qualifier.

The first All Pro Tour Sand Creek Championships turned out to be a classic as Wichita native Sam Stevens sank a long birdie putt on 18 to preserve a one-stroke win over Peyton Wilhoit on Thursday at Sand Creek Station.

Stevens finished the 54-hole tournament at 20-under par for 196, just two strokes shy of a course record. He shot a seven-under 65 in his final round.

“That was nice,” Stevens said. “I left myself a nice uphill putt. I barely got it over the front edge and it went in. I knew I had to make it. I knew where I stood. ... I didn’t have to worry too much about it running it right by. I just had to follow my line and it went right in.”

Stevens, already the APT money leader, earned $25,000 for his accomplishment. His season earnings on the APT Tour is just shy of $100,000. Stevens won his third APT event of the season and fourth of his career.

Wilhoit earned $10,000 to move up to ninth on the APT money list at just under $22,000.

Logan McCracken of Oklahoma City finished third, five shots off the lead. Hayden Springer of Trophy Club, Texas, finished fourth, six strokes off the lead.

Stevens started the day one shot off the lead. He was two shots back after Tuesday’s first round. Wilhoit led the first two days.

“I just played good all three days,” Stevens said. “You have to get a break or two. If you can get away with a bad shot and still make pars, you are going to do well. I made a few putts and Peyton played well. It was going back and forth all day.”

Stevens is no stranger to Sand Creek Station. He played the course at the Class 5A state high school meet when he was at Kapaun-Mt. Carmel. He also played in a number of tournaments at the course, including the Railer, the Kansas State Amateur Stroke Play Championships.

Sand Creek Station has been a bit of a family affair as well. His cousin Kate Tilma won the Kansas Women’s Amateur this summer.

“She sank a 15-footer on 18 to win that,” Stevens said. “I had some good mojo on that putt. I’ve been out here a ton. (General manager) Chris (Touhey) does a great job on this course. He’s one of the best golf people in Kansas.”

Stevens will be back to Sand Creek Station on Monday morning for the PGA Korn Ferry Tour Wichita Open qualifier.

“I’d like to make the PGA Tour, but it’s a hard road to get there,” Stevens said. “I’d just like to get better. If I’m good enough, I’ll get there. I just need to keep playing like I have been. Those Monday (qualifiers) are tough. You have to be ready to go.”

Wilhoit’s loss came despite three rounds of bogey free golf. He birdied 18 to stay within a stroke.

“It’s a case of playing really well and I just got beat,” Wilhoit said. “I can’t complain. If you play like that and not make a bogey, that’s just hats off to Sam. He’s a very good player. It’s tough to beat him.”

Wilhoit resides in North Little Rock, Ark., and played college golf at Southern Illinois. It was his first time on the course.

“I like it,” Wilhoit said. “It’s hard to say there wasn’t anything I didn’t too well. I like the course. It’s demanding off the tee, which helps me, because I hit it straight. It felt good to me. It’s a mix of all the things you want. I was just a hole short.”

Wilhoit matches his best pro finish. He tied for second at last year’s Southside Bank Open in Lufkin, Texas, finishing a stroke behind Stevens.

“I had a fourth this year, but this is my highest this year,” Wilhoit said. “It’s a fun rivalry. Sam’s one of the nicest guys out here. If I had to lose, I’d want to lose to him.”

Wilhoit said he overcame some nerves going into the final round.

“I felt great,” he said. “I have felt some nerves before this week. I felt calmness. I felt like whatever will happen will happen. There was nothing I needed to be concerned about. It felt good. It was about the best I’ve felt.”

Like Stevens, Wilhoit will return Monday for the Wichita Open qualifier.

“Seeing the course so many times will help,” Wilhoit said. “You just have to hit the ball straight. It might be set up a little different.”

For those not qualifying for the Wichita Open, the next APT event is Tuesday through Thursday at the at the Colbert Charity Classic at Kansas State’s Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan. Play at the Wichita Open begins Sept. 24 at the Crestview Country Club.

APT Sand Creek Championships

All Pro Tour

Sand Creek Championship

Sand Creek Station

Par 72, 7,339 yards

1. Sam Stevens Fort Worth, $25,000;66-65-65—196

2. Peyton Wilhoit North Little Rock, AR, $10,000;64-66-67—197

3. Logan McCracken Oklahoma City, $7,100;68-66-67—201

4. Hayden Springer Trophy Club, TX, $4,900;69-66-67—202

5. Myles Lewis New Orleans, $3,865;67-69-68—204

6. Chris Malec Webster, NY, $3,565;67-67-71—205

T7. Grant Schroeder Montgomery, TX, $3,323;67-70-69—206

T7. Hayden Wood Edmond, OK, $3,323;68-69-69—206

T7. Grady Brame, Jr Hammond, LA, $3,323;67-67-72—206

T10. Gregor Main Danville, CA, $3,015;69-69-69—207

T10. Donnie Trosper Canton, MI, $3,015;68-67-72—207

T10. Sam Fidone Lufkin, TX, $3,015;66-69-72—207

T13. Chandler Phillips Huntsville, TX, $2,665;70-69-69—208

T13. Trent Whitekiller Sallisaw, OK, $2,665;69-71-68—208

T13. Zachary Olsen Memphis, $2,665;68-70-70—208

T13. TK Kim Boise, ID, $2,665;75-67-66—208

T17. Zach Bauchou Forest, VA, $2,197;67-71-71—209

T17. Kyle Pritchard Castroville, TX, $2,197;71-69-69—209

T17. Blaine Hale Dallas, $2,197;68-70-71—209

T17. Jake Hendrix Austin, $2,197;72-69-68—209

T17. George Toone Hever, England, $2,197;68-69-72—209

T17. Drew Shepherd Hinsdale, IL, $2,197;71-70-68—209

T23. Erik Flores Charlotte, NC, $1,812;67-72-71—210

T23. Blake Caldwell Ponchatoula, LA, $1,812;72-67-71—210

T23. Landon Lyons Baton Rouge, LA, $1,812;70-66-74—210

T23. Derek Chang Dallas, $1,812;66-68-76—210

T27. Nathan Jeansonne Keithville, LA, $1,400;70-69-72—211

T27. Austin Rose Jackson, MS, $1,400;71-68-72—211

T27. Joseph Harrison Boulder City, NV, $1,400;70-70-71—211

T27. Greg Eason Kissimmee, FL, $1,400;73-68-70—211

T27. Curtis Reed Castroville, TX, $1,400;67-70-74—211

T27. Austin Bautista Clearwater, FL, $1,400;71-70-70—211

T27. Conner Godsey Rogersville, AL, $1,400;65-69-77—211

T34. Mitchell Meissner San Antonio, $931;72-67-73—212

T34. Blake Trimble Houston, $931;72-69-71—212

T34. Wesley McClain Smithville, TX, $931;66-71-75—212

T34. Rob Hudson Dallas, $931;65-71-76—212

T34. Jeremy Gandon Fort Worth, $931;70-72-70—212

T34. Rylee Reinertson Norman, OK, $931;71-71-70—212

T34. Tanner Gore El Paso, TX, $931;71-71-70—212

T41. Scott Newton Austin, $688;70-69-74—213

T41. Gage Ihrig Goodland, $688;72-70-71—213

T41. Brandon Baumgarten Chicago, $688;72-70-71—213

T41. Rasmey Kong West Palm Beach, FL, $688;71-71-71—213

T45. Spencer Soosman Austin, $600;70-70-74—214

T45. Michael Cotton New Braunfels, TX, $600;70-71-73—214

T45. Austin Fox Austin, $600;70-72-72—214

T48. Zack Fischer Texarkana, TX, $540;70-70-75—215

T48. Luke Gannon Bel Aire, $540;69-72-74—215

T48. Alistair Docherty Vancouver, WA, $540;72-69-74—215

51. Kyle Pilgrim Colleyville, TX, $520;71-69-76—216

52. Clay Ederer Olathe, $510;68-70-79—217

53. Sean Romero Texarkana, AR, $500;72-70-76—218

T54. Henry Westmoreland Wacissa, FL, $475;70-69-81—220

T54. Sam Triplett Paradise Valley, AZ, $475;70-70-80—220

T54. Reece Blair Leighton Buzzard, England, $475;72-70-78—220

T54. Sam Gillis San Jacinto, CA, $475;72-70-78—220

58. Neil Tillman Arvada, CO, $450;76-66-79—221

Logan McCracken of Oklahoma City finished third Thursday at the APT Sand Creek Championships.