by Charles Clines
When Collin Clark won the 2014 FWJGA Boys City Junior Golf Championship, he stumbled to a final-round 81 at Colonial C.C. This year heading into the final round of the 72-hole tournament, Clark wanted a little redemption. And he got it Thursday when he shot an even-par 70 on the historic course to rally from four shots behind and pass third-round leader Brendon Lowrance and six others to claim his second championship. The 18-year-old from Mansfield had a four-day total of 292 to win by one shot over Zach Cole, 18, of Fort Worth and Chris Berzina, 16, of Fort Worth.
Marty Leonard, daughter of the tournament founder Marvin Leonard, presented the Marvin Leonard trophy to Clark. The permanent trophy stays on display, along with the girls trophy, at the Ben Hogan Learning Center at Rockwood G.C.
Marvin Leonard also was the businessman who built Colonial and Shady Oaks. The Wendell Conditt medalist award went to Garrison Smith, 16, of Mansfield. He tied Chase Wilson and Blake Bell for the first-round low score, and won the award via a scorecard playoff. Conditt was a long-time director of the boys championship and the 86-year-old attended the awards ceremony.
Cole, who jumped into the hunt Wednesday with a 70 at Shady Oaks C.C., finished with a 73 while Berzina charged to a 70 at Colonial. Cole took second by a scorecard playoff.
Lowrance, 17, of Mansfield and who had a one-shot lead over Chase Wilson and Luke Griggs entering the final day, made the nine-hole turn in three-over 38. He bogeyed holes 10 and 11 before rallying with back-to-back birdies on holes 10 and 11. His rally hit a wall, however, on the par-4 17th when he carded a triple-bogey seven. Griggs, 16, of Argyle shot a 76 for a sixth place finish at 295 and Wilson, 17, of Mansfield slipped to an 81 and a tie for 10th at 300.
“It’s a big deal,” Clark said about winning again. Besides claiming his second title, he said, “It’s my last junior tournament. I’ll play a couple of college tournaments and get ready for the school year at UT-San Antonio.”
Clark said this “probably was my best ball striking round I’ve ever played in my entire life. I hit 16 of 18 greens and I was in every single fairway. I really hit it close the whole day,” he said after playing the 6,837-yard layout from the Blue tees. He putted from just off the temporary green (one of two back-to-back temps) on the par-4 15 for a birdie and believed he locked up the victory when he had to sink an 8-foot par putt on the par-4 17th. Cole, playing in the group behind Clark, was tied after a birdie on 17, but he bogeyed the 18th. Griggs, also playing behind Clark, birdied 17 to pull within a shot but settled for a par on 18.
“I told myself that I was just trying to beat the golf course and not think about anyone else. Today, I couldn’t really get any big numbers because I was driving it in the fairways.. In 2014, I was all over the place. I couldn’t have hit it worse that day.”
He said the par-5 No. 1 was a key hole. ” I hit the ball down the center of the fairway, hit a four-iron 20 feet from the hole and two putted. I said ‘All right let’s go..’ I knew I had to shoot a low number.” If there were any setbacks, it was his inability to get up and down from three bunkers. His card showed three birdies on holes 1, 9 and 15. His bogeys came on the sixth, eighth and 12th.
Another bonus of winning for Clark was that he become the second player from Mansfield High School to win the tournament. The other was Kolton Crawford , who won the 2009 and 2010 championships. Clark had rounds of 72 at Rolling Hills C.C., 72 at Ridglea Country Club and 79 at Shady Oaks C.C.
Winning the First Flight by three shots was Lowry West, 17, of Trophy Club, who shot a final-round 72, the third lowest score at Colonial, for a 306 total. Jared Imber, 17, of Fort Worth, won the Second Flight by two shots after carding his second consecutive 73. Matthew Jerome, 17, of Keller won the Third Flight after a final-round 79 gave him a 322 total, only one in front of Marco Campos, 18, of Grand Prairie.
The Championship, First, Second and Third Flight played Colonial. Each flight was cut to the low 16 after 54 holes. The Fourth through Ninth Flights finished at Walnut Creek C.C.
The 11-13 boys finished their match play competition at Sycamore Creek. Jason Naeger,13, of Keller won the Championship Flight by edging Tanner Smith, 13, of Aledo in their 9-hole match. In the 8-10 Division at River’s Edge, Mark Neeley, 9, of Mansfield won the Championship Flight with a final-round 30 on the 8-hole River’s Edge course, which was played as two loops on four holes.