By Ken MacLeod
Brad Simons, an assistant professional at the Country Club of Little Rock, won his first South Central Section PGA Professional Championship Tuesday at The Patriot in Owasso, shooting a second-round of even-par 72 to finish at 7-under 137. Simons shot the tournament’s low round of -7-under 65 Monday.
The top five finishers in the section event, which was sponsored by Justice Golf Car and Titleist/Footjoy, will advance to the national PGA Professional Championship next April at Barton Creek Resort near Austin. The top 20 club professionals at the national will earn spots in the 2020 PGA Championship May 14-17 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
Also earning spots in the national event were four Oklahoma pros. Shannon Friday of Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club finished second at 5-under after closing with a 69. Tim Fleming, the director of golf at OKC Golf & CC, tied for third at 4-under with Blake Bowman of Yamaha Golf Cars at 4-under. Jeff Combe, director of golf at Tulsa Country Club, shot 71-70 to finish at 3-under 141.
Jarod Lundy of Winter Creek, who reached 6-under on Tuesday’s round with four holes to play, had a couple of closing bogeys to shoot 4-under 68, which matched Bruce Baxley for best round of the day. Lundy, Jason Hase of Buffalo Dunes in Garden City, Kan., Brent Wilcoxen of South Lakes GC in Jenks and Kyley Tetley of The Club at Indian Springs in Broken Arrow are the alternates.
While congratulations were certainly in order for all of the above-mentioned golfers, the story of the day was the man who finished tied for 20th.
Mark Fuller, director of golf at The Club at Surrey Hills in Yukon, returned to competitive golf five months after being diagnosed in late January with a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) on his liver. The cancer was eating away at his right hip bone, which required an eight-inch nail to secure the hip to his femur. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation to reduce the tumor, which had caused massive swelling in his feet, legs and other sensitive areas.
The surgery to repair the hip led to blood clot in his lung. Fuller was treated both in Oklahoma City and at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston. During recovery, he read the story of Oklahoma State fan Joe Tippens, who used a canine dewormer medicine called Panacur C to help him stage a remarkable recovery from small cell lung cancer when doctors had expected him to live for no more than a few months.
Fuller started taking the dewormer in February and is a firm believer that the dog medicine combined with his treatments has resulted in his own remarkable recovery. He was able to return to work this spring on a five-to-six hour per day basis and in the last few weeks began practicing lightly.
“I really believe it’s helped,” he said. “I take it five times a week and I’ll be taking it the rest of my life.”
Long one of the top golfers in the section, he shot a 1-over 73 in his first round back with 17 pars and one bogey. Tuesday he closed with a 76. Fuller was limping noticeably as the hip continues to heal and said he has had to recalibrate which clubs to hit from particular distances, but otherwise was thrilled to be back playing.
“It’s been a long five or six months,” he said. “Luckily my sister (Carrie) has been right by my side through every appointment and hospital visit. My three kids have been great (son Austen, 26, daughter Courtney, 23, and son Brice, 18). I’ve had a lot of prayers and a lot of friends have reached out. A lot of my PGA buddies have been very supportive.
“I feel good. I feel like I’m getting stronger every day.”
His fellow PGA pros were all surprised and thrilled to see Fuller back in action this week.
“It’s terrific for him to be back,” Fleming said. “I’m very happy for him and the progress he’s made in his recovery. It’s great just to get to see all his friends, because we don’t get to that often when we’re doing our daily jobs.”
Austen Fuller is an assistant pro at Tulsa Country Club and has kept Combe informed on his father’s progress.
“It was great to see him out here and hopefully he’s just going to keep getting stronger and recover fully,” Combe said.
Fuller’s children founded a GoFundMe page to help with his expenses. You can view the page or help here.
Note: Vince Bizik of Grove made a hole-in-one on the par-3 ninth hole, his final hole of the second round. Asked how many aces he now had in his career, Bizik said he couldn’t remember, around his 13th or 14th.
Must be nice.
South Central PGA Professional Championship
July 8-9, 2019
Qualifiers: 5 Alternates: 4
1 Brad Simons Country Club of Little Ro 65-72–137 -7
2 Shannon Friday Oklahoma City G&CC 70-69–139 -5
T3 Tim Fleming Oklahoma City G&CC 71-69–140 -4
T3 Blake Bowman Yamaha Golf Cars 69-71–140 -4
5 Jeff Combe Tulsa CC 71-70–141 -3
ALTERNATES – IN ORDER
T6 Jason Hase Buffalo Dunes GC 73-69–142 -2
T6 Jarod Lundy Winter Creek GC 74-68–142 -2
T8 Brent Wilcoxen South Lakes 73-70–143 -1
T8 Kyley Tetley Indian Springs – River 70-73–143 -1
DID NOT QUALIFY
10 Riley Seitz Reflection Ridge GC 75-69–144 E
T11 Cary Cozby Southern Hills CC – Champ 76-69–145 +1
T11 Jim Young River Oaks GC 74-71–145 +1
T11 Aaron Kristopeit Lincoln Park GC 74-71–145 +1
T11 Malachi Murphy Winter Creek GC 72-73–145 +1
T11 Mike Hansen Duncan G&T Club 72-73–145 +1
T11 Trent Rommann Crestview CC 71-74–145 +1
17 Bruce Baxley Searcy CC 78-68–146 +2
18 Art Romero Texarkana CC 73-74–147 +3
19 Philip Holley Hot Springs CC 74-74–148 +4
T20 Mike Elafros The Greens CC 75-74–149 +5
T20 Mark Fuller Surrey Hills 73-76–149 +5
T22 Lee Johnson Hidden Lakes 76-74–150 +6
T22 John Hron V Hillcrest 74-76–150 +6
T22 Joseph Marshall Alotian Club 69-81–150 +6
T25 Jim Sykes Pleasant Valley CC 77-74–151 +7
T25 J.J. Belcoff Forest Ridge 78-73–151 +7
T25 Justin Watkins Topgolf – Oklahoma City 73-78–151 +7
T25 Kurt Gibson Reflection Ridge GC 72-79–151 +7
29 Jon Burton Hardscrabble CC 71-81–152 +8
30 Tyler Woodward Jimmie Austin Golf Club 79-74–153 +9
T31 Rusty Wortham Altus AFB GC / Windy Trai 76-79–155 +11
T31 Greg Bray Golf Club of Oklahoma 75-80–155 +11
T33 Dennis Bowman Pryor Creek 78-78–156 +12
T33 Dustin Semsch 1st Tee of Metro Oklahoma City 74-82–156 +12
T33 Mark Budler Indian Springs – River 81-75–156 +12
T36 Corey Burd Bailey Ranch Golf Club 78-79–157 +13
T36 Vince Bizik 79-78–157 +13
T36 Brent Cryer GC of Edmond 83-74–157 +13
T36 Matthew Black Blessings GC 85-72–157 +13
T36 Grant Landry Southern Hills CC – Champ 86-71–157 +13
T41 Derek Franco Twin Hills Golf & CC 76-82–158 +14
T41 Kevin Moberg The Golf Studio 83-75–158 +14
T41 Justin Sellin Blessings GC 84-74–158 +14
44 Mike Stewart Rose Creek Golf Club 78-81–159 +15
45 Cody Lack Arthur B. Sim 85-75–160 +16
T46 Derrick Vest Patriot GC 76-85–161 +17
T46 Darren Watts Lake Hefner GC 78-83–161 +17
48 Steve Blaske Tex Consolver GC 81-81–162 +18
T49 Colin O’Bryan MacDonald Park GC 81-82–163 +19
T49 Garrett Diel Gaillardia CC 88-75–163 +19
T51 Philip Jackson Golf Club of Oklahoma 78-86–164 +20
T51 Jeff Tucker Surrey Hills 72-92–164 +20
53 Andrew Forbes Heritage Hills 78-87–165 +21
T54 Tory Hayes South Central Section 85-81–166 +22
T54 Jayden Bruun Belmar GC 82-84–166 +22
T54 Edward Roethlisberger Patricia Island E&GC 88-78–166 +22
57 Devin Davenport Oak Tree National 91-76–167 +23
58 Barry Howard Hot Springs CC 84-85–169 +25
59 Jason Mink LaFortune Park GC 91-80–171 +27
60 Brandon Blough Hardscrabble CC 83-91–174 +30
61 Wade Walker Hidden Trails CC 89-86–175 +31
62 Ty Hayes Tulsa CC 88-91–179 +35
63 Brad Fulton Oklahoma City G&CC 94-88–182 +38
DID NOT FINISH
WD Joey Martinez Belmar GC +5
WD Kyle Ingram Lit’l +16
WD Mark Ramer Golf World Driving Range +19
WD Cole Wasinger Oakwood CC of Enid +22
WD Brett Dotson Cleveland Golf/Srixon +43
WD Troy Hendricks Auburn Hills Municipal
WD James Kane Oak Tree National
DQ Bob Ralston Stuttgart CC -3