By KEN MacLEOD
OKLAHOMA CITY – Steady won the day as Nathan Hughes captured the Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship, making four birdies and one bogey to upset Talor Gooch 3 and 2 in the championship match at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club.
Hughes, who lives in Bartlesville and will be a fifth-year senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City this fall, slowly pulled away from Gooch, the Midwest City native and Oklahoma State rising senior.
Hughes rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt on the first hole of the afternoon match, played in a rare north wind on the venerable Perry Maxwell-designed layout which long-time superintendent Craig Elms had in immaculate condition. Gooch evened the match when Hughes made bogey on the par-5 fifth hole but gave Hughes the lead right back when he made his only bogey of the match, failing to get up and down from a bunker on the par-4 seventh.
Hughes took command with a 25-foot downhill birdie on the par-4 12th hole. He started following the putt as it rolled slowly downhill and was nearly even with it when it dropped in the cup.
"I thought I had hit it too hard and it was going to go five or six feet past the hole," Hughes said. "It hit some lusher grass at the end and dove to the right and went in. That was a big putt."
He increased the lead to 3 holes by by rifling an 8-iron on the 148-yard 15th hole to 11 feet above the hole and converting that for birdie. The match ended when both players birdied the par-5 16th hole.
"I didn’t make a lot of birdies today but I played steady," said Hughes, who defeated Chandler Rusk of Edmond and Wichita State University 2 and 1 in the morning semifinals, which were delayed an hour to allow rain and high water to clear the course. "I’m really happy to have my name on that trophy with all the other great players who have won this event."
Gooch made plenty of pars, but struggled to hit it close enough for realistic birdie opportunities in both his semifinal match, a 1 up victory over Taylor Moore of Edmond and the University of Arkansas, and against Hughes. He made a clutch birdie on the 18th hole to edge Moore, his third birdie of that match against three bogeys. But it didn’t resemble the fireworks he displayed in his last four rounds of OGA stroke play events, which were rounds of 63-68-62 to win the 2012 OGA Stroke Play Championship at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Course and a 62 in qualifying for this championship.
"I just really couldn’t get anything going and Nathan played really well," Gooch said. "He shot 3-under and that’s always good on this course. I’m not used to playing two matches a day three days in a row.
While Gooch and Moore were off to try to qualify for the U.S. Amateur and then play in the Western Amateur next week at The Alotian Club outside Little Rock, Hughes said the State Amateur would put a fitting end to his summer tournament schedule.
Oklahoma Golf Association
State Amateur Championship
July 22-24, 2013
Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club
Match Play Results
Round — (Semifinal)
Nathan Hughes, Bartlesville, Oklahoma (21) def. Chandler Rusk, Edmond, Okla. (48), 2 and 1
Talor Gooch, Midwest City, Okla. (2) def. Taylor Moore, Edmond, Oklahoma (6), 1 up
Round — (Final)
Nathan Hughes, Bartlesville, Oklahoma (21) def. Talor Gooch, Midwest City, Okla. (2), 3 and 2