CARROLLTON – Defending Texas Four-Ball champions Will Osborne and Josh Irving on Thursday picked up right where they left off at the year’s first Major Championship. Two of the best mid-amateurs in the country, Osborne and Irving lead the Championship division of the 2018 Texas Four-Ball after combining to shoot 4-under-par 68 at Maridoe Golf Club.
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Osborne and Irving won the 2017 Four-Ball at Crown Colony in Lufkin by five shots. This time around, they hold a two-shot advantage over a pair of teams headed into the second round of the 54-hole best ball stroke play event. Osborne, the 2017 North Texas Player of the Year, made six birdies on the day, including a stretch of three in four holes early on the back nine.
“I pretty much rode Will all day,” said Irving, a two-time Texas Player of the Year (2015-16). “I hope he keeps it up and I play better.”
Like the rest of the 80-team field, Osborne and Irving battled one of the toughest layouts in Texas with gusting winds that reached 20-25 mph. Open for less than a year, Maridoe already has amassed a reputation as a ball-strikers’ course that demands attention on every single shot. Despite his stellar play, Osborne was not about to refute that notion.
“You have to hit it really straight, and you have to think your way around here a lot,” he said. “It kind of suits my game. You have to place it in the right spots off the tee and think about where you want to be coming into the greens. It’s tough.”
Two behind Osborne and Irving are Jordan Woolf and Jace Moore, as well as Marcus Jones and Tyler Thomas.
Woolf and Moore birdied three of their final four holes to post 2-under 70.
“Jace carried me all day,” Woolf said. “I hit into the greenside bunker on No. 6 and hit a pretty good shot. Then on No. 7, I was able to hit the green in two and two-putt for birdie. But, geez whiz, Jace made about a million pars with me in my pocket. It was really good teamwork.”
Jones and Tyler came into the Texas Four-Ball with a competitive edge on the field. They’re both members at Maridoe and know better than most how to attack the difficult golf course. They made the turn at 1-over, then played the next seven holes at 4-under par.
“It’s gotta be a huge advantage to have played this course a lot of times,” Jones said. “This course is all about angles and strategy. We’ve hit the wrong shots enough times around here that we kind of know the right ones to hit.”
In the Senior division for amateurs ages 55 and older, four teams are tied for the lead with 36 holes to play. Kip Estep and Wayne Wright; Mark Crisco and Michael Schille; Craig Hall and John Pierce; and Alan Hill and Richard Hageman all posted even-par 72s. They all lead two teams by a single shot.
“It’s a really difficult golf course,” said Pierce, who finished third at the 2017 Texas Senior Amateur and was runner-up in the 2016 Texas Senior Am. “It’s firm, fast. The greens are demon-like. You haven’t done anything putting the ball on the green. It seems like you’re always playing defensive golf around here.”
There’s also a tie for the lead in the Super Senior division (65 and older). Texas Golf Hall of Famer John Grace and his partner Bill Holstead share the top spot on the leaderboard with Joel Eastman and Woody Thames. Both teams finished at 1-over 73. They all lead Michael Arnold and Bruce Benner by three shots.
Built on the land that formerly housed the Honors Club (and before that Columbian Club), Maridoe opened July 15, 2017, as a completely new golf course. Steve Smyers, the Florida-based architect best known for his renovations at Isleworth Golf & Country Club and Olympia Fields Golf Club, created a thrilling and challenging masterpiece on the 212-acre parcel of land in north Dallas.
The Maridoe membership is committed to supporting the game at its highest levels. Open less than a year, the club already has hosted a USGA Senior Amateur qualifier, the Texas Shootout and a University of North Texas Women’s Collegiate Invitational in addition to the Texas Four-Ball Championship.
Maridoe will host a U.S. Amateur qualifier this summer. It’s scheduled to host the 2019 Texas Mid-Amateur and will continue to pursue its goal of establishing itself as a friend of the TGA, USGA and the game of golf.
For this week’s Texas Four-Ball Championship, the Championship division plays the par-72 track at approximately 7,295 yards. The Seniors tackle Maridoe from about 6,770 yards, and the Super Seniors play from close to 6,320 yards.
The second round of the 2018 Texas Four-Ball Championship begins Friday at 8 a.m.