DALLAS—The Texas Golf Association on Thursday announced the members and captain who will represent the Lone Star State in the 2016 USGA Men’s State Team Championship, to be played Sept. 28-30 at the Country Club of Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala.
Scott Abbott and Joshua Irving of Dallas and Zach Atkinson of Colleyville will attempt to win Texas its fifth USGA Men’s State Team title since the event began 21 years ago. Current TGA President Jim Brown of Dallas will serve as captain of Team Texas.
Texas has owned the USGA Men’s State Team Championships ever since the event began. Played biennially since 1995, Texas in 2014 won its record fourth title. Atkinson, Colby Harwell and Aaron Hickman combined to shoot 4-under-par 428 over 54 holes in the unique, three-players-for-two-scores stroke play format. The Texas team also won titles in 1999, 2005 and ’07. No other state has won more than two Men’s State Team Championships.
Sanctioned with selecting the state’s representatives, the TGA utilizes a two-year cumulative points system based on top finishes in TGA Statewide and USGA National Championships. The points-earning period began with the 2014 U.S. Amateur and concluded July 25, following the conclusion of the Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play and U.S. Amateur qualifying.
Atkinson will make his second straight appearance on the statewide team and hopes for repeat outcome. He earned his way back on the team with his recent Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play victory and top-5s at the 107th Texas Amateur presented by Insperity, the 2015 Texas Mid-Amateur and 2016 Texas Four-Ball. Abbott, the 2015 Mid-Amateur Champion, and Irving, the 2015 Texas Player of the Year, join Atkinson as new team members.
Abbott also helped his case with a tie for sixth at the 107th Texas Amateur, a semifinals appearance at the 2015 Mid-Amateur Match Play and a tie for eighth at the 2014 Texas Mid-Amateur.
Irving played his way on Team Texas with an eighth-place finish at the 2015 Texas Mid-Amateur, a quarterfinals appearance at the 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur, a tie for second at the 2016 Texas Four-Ball and a top-15 performance at the 2014 Texas Mid-Amateur.
Founded in 1898, the Country Club of Birmingham boasts two magnificent 18-hole courses designed by Donald Ross. The USGA State Team will play the West Course, built in 1929. The course was remodeled in 1958 by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and again in 1986 by Pete Dye. This will be the second USGA championship conducted on the West Course in three years following Mike McCoy’s victory in the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur.
The format for the Men’s State Team is three rounds of 18-hole stroke play, with the two lowest scores from each three-person team constituting the team score for each round. The three-day total is the team’s score for the championship.
The Men’s State Team, as well as the Women’s State Team, grew out of the USGA Centennial in 1995. USGA officials believed that a new championship, one in which each state, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, could be represented by amateur, non-college golfers, was an appropriate way to cap their yearlong celebration. The competition proved to be such a success that it was agreed to continue to administer the championships every two years, in odd-numbered years.
After more than ten years of staging the championships concurrently, the decision was made in 2010 to conduct the competitions in alternate years, with the Men’s State Team Championship held in even years and the Women’s State Team in odd years.