By Murray Evans
OKLAHOMA CITY (July 26, 2016) – After Michael Hearne finished his collegiate career at Southern Nazarene in 2015, he sought a part-time job at Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club so heâ€™d have a good course on which to hone his considerable game.
That home-course knowledge helped the native of Bridgend, Wales, pull off an upset on Tuesday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship. Hearne won three of the first four holes and never trailed while beating two-time defending champion Brendon Jelley 1-up, ending Jelleyâ€™s 15-match win streak in the event.
â€œThis golf course is such a hard stroke-play golf course,â€ said Hearne, a two-time NCAA Division II All-America selection while at SNU. â€œBut in match play, youâ€™ve got to stay aggressive. You have to throw putts out there, throw birdies out there. Itâ€™s a great match-play golf course and thatâ€™s why I love having it here.
â€œWe just had a great bout today, which is why I love plating match play. Youâ€™re at each other every single hole.â€
In one semifinal on Wednesday morning, the 25-year-old Hearne will face Northeastern State senior Tate Williamson, who held off Jeff Coffman of Oklahoma City – last yearâ€™s runner-up to Jelley – to win 1-up in one quarterfinal.
The other semifinal will pit third-seeded Quade Cummins of Weatherford – a redshirt freshman at the University of Oklahoma – against Drew Posada of Shawnee. Cummins beat Kyle Story of Edmond 4 and 3 in the quarterfinals.
Posada, who just completed his senior season at Oklahoma Baptist, had the easiest day of any of the semifinalists, winning by default over Jared Strathe of Owasso in the morning round, then roaring past Wesley Jackson of Fort Gibson – a Central Oklahoma junior – 7 and 6 in the quarterfinals.
Jelley, a rising junior at Oklahoma State, hadnâ€™t gone the distance in any of his three State Amateur matches this year before facing Hearne, a run that included a 6 and 5 romp over Brady Richardson of Tulsa in the round of 16 on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, Hearne – who also works as a real estate agent in Oklahoma City – went 18 holes before downing former Oral Roberts standout Scott Newell 2-up.
It wasnâ€™t long before Hearne started throwing haymakers against Jelley. Hearne took the lead with a routine par on the par-4 No. 2 while Jelley got himself in trouble with a poor second shot that gave him a tough lie under a tree left of the green and resulted in a bogey.
At the par-3 No. 3, Hearne went 2-up, rolling in a tricky 25-foot birdie putt while Jelleyâ€™s eight-foot attempt missed. An approach shot to six feet on No. 4 gave Hearne another birdie, and Jelley again couldnâ€™t match, as his 15-foot birdie putt lipped out, putting him three shots down.
â€œI got off to a pretty hot start,â€ Hearne said. â€œThat was a big putt on 3. It kind of threw it a little bit, because I think he expected to make his. The wedge on 4 was kind of nice, too.â€
The rest of the match, every time Jelley made a run at Hearne, Hearne responded. Jelley rebounded to win the par-5 No. 5 with a 15-foot birdie putt and No. 7 with a 10-foot birdie putt, but Hearne answered with a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 8 as Jelley missed a 12-footer.
Hearneâ€™s bogey at No. 10 gave Jelley the hole, but Hearne rolled in a 22-footer for birdie at the par-4 No. 12 to again go 2-up. Jelley won No. 13 with a 15-foot birdie putt, but Hearne eagled the par-5 No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to go.
â€œThat putt on 12 really just edged me a little bit further forward,â€ Hearne said. â€œI knew he was going to come back. I knew that I couldnâ€™t just hold on. Even after being 3-up through four (hole), I knew it never was going to be a 6 and 5 match. Heâ€™s too good of a golfer for that.â€
Indeed, Jelley had one final rally in him, parring No. 17 while Hearne hit into a sand trap in front of the green and bogeyed. Jelley had a chance at No. 18 to extend the match, but his 25-foot birdie attempt slid right past the hole and Hearne buried a 12-foot putt for his par to halve the hole and seal the win.
â€œHeâ€™s a great golfer and heâ€™s going to do great things,â€ Hearne said of Jelley. â€œThings just didnâ€™t go his way today. If one or two of his putts go in, itâ€™s a different story.â€
Cummins, who needed a 12-foot birdie putt on his 18th hole to edge Oklahoma Christian University junior Chris Karlovich in the second round on Monday, had an easier time Tuesday, winning 3 and 2 over Luke Phillips of Edmond before downing Story. Cummins said being pushed by Karlovich in the second round helped motivate him Tuesday.
â€œThat last match yesterday helped me, knowing how it felt to go all the way to the end (before winning),â€ Cummins said. â€œGoing all the way to the end is nerve-wracking. It will get to you, going to the last hole. So I came out and I was trying to get them out early and it turned out good, I guess.â€
Cummins was 3-up on Story after six holes. Story won No. 11, but Cummins prevailed at No. 12 and No. 13 to go 4-up to essentially seal the match.
Oklahoma Golf AssociationState Amateur Championship
Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club
July 25-27, 2016
Round — (Round of 16)
Brendon Jelley, Tulsa, Okla. (1) def. Brady Richardson, Tulsa, Okla. (48), 6 and 5
Mike Hearne, Oklahoma City, Okla. (8) def. Scott Newell, Tulsa, Okla. (56), 2 up
Jeff Coffman, Oklahoma City, Okla. (4) def. Bill Bishop Jr, Okc, Okla. (52), 3 and 2
Tate Williamson, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (28) def. Chris Muriana, Edmond, Okla. (12), 2 and 1
Drew Posada, Shawnee, Okla. (34) def. Jared Strathe, Owasso, Okla. (50), By Default
Wesley Jackson, Fort Gibson, Okla. (42) def. Ben Blundell, Oklahoma City, Okla. (39), 2 and 1
Quade Cummins, Weatherford, Okla. (3) def. Luke Phillips, Edmond, Okla. (14), 3 and 2
Kyle Story, Edmond, Okla. (11) def. Mason Overstreet, Kingfisher, Okla. (27), 3 and 2
Mike Hearne, Oklahoma City, Okla. (8) def. Brendon Jelley, Tulsa, Okla. (1), 1 up
Tate Williamson, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (28) def. Jeff Coffman, Oklahoma City, Okla. (4), 1 up
Drew Posada, Shawnee, Okla. (34) def. Wesley Jackson, Fort Gibson, Okla. (42), 7 and 6
Quade Cummins, Weatherford, Okla. (3) def. Kyle Story, Edmond, Okla. (11), 4 and 3