Ten locals are among the 80 players entered in the Arkansas State Golf Association’s Arkansas Amateur Championship at Hot Springs Village’s DeSoto Golf Club Thursday through Saturday.
Chris Jenkins, who plays out of the Country Club of Arkansas, and Beau Glover of Sherwood are former champions of the amateur division. They are among the six locals in the 36-player amateur division.
Austin Eoff of Benton, who ended his Purdue career this spring as only the third player in school history to be named All-Big Ten four times, is the defending champion. He was also recently named the assistant golf coach at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Other former champs in the field include Wes McNulty of White Hall and Seth Garner of Hot Springs in the amateur division and Tracy Harris of Little Rock in the mid-senior division.
“Wes McNulty has won several of them, and he can win anywhere, any time,” Jenkins said. “All those guys that play college golf have played a lot of golf every day, so they’re in playing shape. Their bad rounds are going to be pretty good.
“I would love to win a state am again, but for somebody like me to compete at this point, I’ve got to be striking on all cylinders.”
Other locals entered in the amateur division are Nick Zimmerman, Colby Benton and Kevin Walker of Sherwood and Stafford Gray of Lonoke. Bill Wrentz and Gary Whitt of Cabot and Jim Smith and David Lawrence of Sherwood in the super-senior tournament. No local players are entered in the senior and mid-senior divisions.
Jenkins over Spurlock
A pair of local golfers dueled to the end of the Fourth of July Classic at War Memorial Park last week.
Chris Jenkins, 47, who plays out of the Country Club of Arkansas, birdied the final two holes to overtake Ryan Spurlock, 19, of Maumelle for a one-stroke victory — his fourth consecutive Fourth of July title and record ninth overall.
Jenkins shot 60-63-62—185, seven-under-par. Spurlock, a sophomore-to-be at Arkansas Tech, stood six-under after 62-61-63 —186.
“The number of wins doesn’t do a whole lot for me,” Jenkins said. “Winning in general is fun, and winning in an exciting fashion is fun, and winning against good players is fun.”
Jenkins is the youngest of four boys who grew up playing on Little Rock’s city courses.
“I’ve just always liked the city golf courses,” he said. “I grew up on them; I’m comfortable on them. War Memorial has always been a big field. It was always one of the (Arkansas State Golf Association’s) four major tournaments, along with the Stroke and Match and the Maumelle Classic. So all those are important to me.”
Spurlock, who was tied with Jenkins entering the final round, went up by one after making birdie on No. 16. Jenkins’ back-to-back birdies coming in made the difference.
The two had never played together.
“It’s cool — I’ve gotten to play with all these guys who were really good in Arkansas when I was a kid,” Spurlock said, mentioning Kerry Lott and Neal Westbrook in addition to Jenkins. “Now I know I can compete with them and play with them. Getting to play with Chris was a lot of fun. It was a battle all day.”
Jenkins said he still felt like he was 21.
“Mentally I am, but I know physically I’m not,” he said. “I don’t putt nearly as well as I used to, but I hit the ball better than I did. I’m fine with how things have turned out.”
He said he only played a few tournaments a year now, “and that’s enough.”
“Golf can be a little frustrating, so playing less means less anxiety,” he said, chuckling.
Spurlock, who made his Fourth of July Classic debut, teamed with O.J. Posey over the weekend to win the Russellville Four-Ball.
Morton Memorial has local winners
Maumelle’s Josie Roberson defended her title and Cabot’s Connor Gaunt took the boys division of the 16th Chuck Morton Memorial Junior Stroke at Big Creek Golf and Country Club in Mountain Home last week.
Helped by birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 in the final round, Roberson shot 73-72—145, a stroke better than Elizabeth Moon of Forrest City. Sherwood’s Hannah Bakalekos tied Sydney Staton of Fort Smith for third at 151.
Gaunt fired 70-71—141 for a four-stroke win in the boys tournament after rallying from two strokes down heading into the final round. An eagle on his second hole erased that deficit.
The win was Gaunt’s fourth on the ASGA’s 2017 Junior Circuit.
Greers Ferry Junior Stroke, Red Apple Inn, July 13-14; Arkansas Amateur Championship, Hot Springs Village, July 13-15; Arkansas Junior Match Play Championship, Eagle Hill, July 17-19; Maumelle Classic, Maumelle CC, July 21-23; U.S. Senior Amateur qualifying, Eagle Hill, July 24; Jonesboro Junior Stroke Play, Jonesboro CC, July 24-25; ASGA Monk Wade Father and Son Championship, Chenal CC, July 25-26; Arkansas Women’s Match Play Championship, Maumelle CC, July 25-27; Sherwood Men’s Amateur Championship, The Greens at North Hills, July 29-30; Big Creek Men’s Stroke, Big Creek CC, Aug. 5-6