CARROLLTON – Chris Wheeler broke through in a major way Sunday when he won the 2019 Texas Mid-Amateur at Maridoe Golf Club by five shots with a 54-hole score of 2-under-par 214.
Time and again during his competitive career in Texas Golf Association championships, Wheeler lived at the top of leaderboards only to fall short of victory. The talented mid-amateur led the 110th Texas Amateur this summer at Dallas Athletic Club after a sizzling 64 in the first round. Wheeler ultimately finished second place. In August, he lost the North Texas Amateur in a playoff. He also held the 36-hole lead at the 2017 Texas Mid-Amateur but stumbled to a 23rd-place finish.
This time, however, Wheeler finished the job off in style. It was his first TGA Championship victory.
“It feels awesome. I’ve played well all year and been close to few times in big events,” said Wheeler, a 36-year-old Tulane graduate. “This was one I definitely really wanted to win. I’m just really, really happy to get it done. It was an awesome golf course and a great field. I’m just super happy.”
Wheeler entered the final round tied for the lead with recently reinstated amateur Jeff Howard from Plano at even-par 144. One shot back was two-time defending Mid-Amateur champion Colby Harwell from San Antonio. The three battled throughout the final day on the most difficult course in Texas.
After a bogey on the first hole, Wheeler birdied the par-4 third and par-3 eighth to get to 1-under for the championship. Wheeler had a three-shot lead through nine holes, but the margin didn’t last long. On very next hole, the tournament changed with one swing of Wheeler’s pitching wedge. He holed out from 125 yards for an eagle-2 on the 394-yard, uphill 10th hole.
Suddenly, Wheeler led by five shots with eight holes to play.
“It’s funny, yesterday on No. 10, I hit a shot that I thought was really good and it ended up coming back 40 yards into the fairway,” Wheeler said. “So I hit a shot today I thought was really good, but when we got up the green we didn’t see it. We couldn’t see the shot land. I thought I had a little more adversity there, but I checked the hole, and there it was.”
Wheeler cruised in from there. He did bogey the par-4 15th hole, but he got the stroke back with a birdie on the 583-yard, par-5 17th.
His good friend Harwell finished in second place at 3-over 219. His bid for the first Mid-Amateur threepeat since 1994 came up a little short, but he was happy for Wheeler.
“Chris played excellent today,” Harwell said. “He kept in play all day and made a lot of putts.”
Howard took third place at 4-over 220.
In addition to the Texas Mid-Amateur champion, the TGA recognizes the Low Mid-Master after 54 holes for players ages 40 and older. This year’s Low Mid-Master was Marcus Jones from Argyle. Jones, a member at Maridoe, finished fourth overall at 5-over 221.
“I like it that there’s a Mid-Master division,” he said. “It is tough to play against 25-year-olds and other college kids like in the Texas Amateur. It’s nice to see how you stack up against guys your age.”
Brad Immel from Keller and Dallas resident Rob Couture, the 2008 Mid-Amateur champion and a Maridoe member, tied for fifth place at 7-over 223.
As has been the case with every event Maridoe hosts since it opened in 2017, the golf course stood up tall as an exacting test of every part of a competitor’s game. The scoring average for the final round was 79.28. The 59 players who made the 36-hole cut played Maridoe at 6,939 yards on Sunday. For the 54-hole championship, the scoring average was 80.74.
The 2019 Texas Mid-Amateur was the third time Maridoe welcomed a TGA Championship. The visually stunning Steve Smyers-designed course also hosted the 2018 Texas Four-Ball and 2017 Texas Shootout. In July, the 116th Trans-Mississippi Amateur was played at Maridoe, and the thriving club looks forward to hosting the 2020 Southern Amateur.
The TGA extends its most sincere appreciation to Maridoe, its staff and members for their support, aide and generosity during the 2019 Texas Mid-Amateur. Extra special thanks to Maridoe owner Albert Huddleston, General Manager Dan Deichert, Director of Golf Marc Wielgosz, Head Golf Professional Ronnie O’Brien, Golf Course Superintendent Shawn Westacott and his amazing grounds crew, Executive Chef Brian Moresco and Director of Clubhouse Services Chad Holland for all their efforts in making the championship week a memorable one.
For more information on the 2019 Texas Mid-Amateur, click here.