By Murray Evans
OKLAHOMA CITY – On some loaded small-college golf teams at Oklahoma Christian, Kyle Hudelson of Edmond often found it difficult to break into the lineup. But in young adulthood, he’s blossomed into a player who’s a threat to win in amateur events.
He earned his second straight Oklahoma Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship title on Tuesday, posting five birdies over the final 11 holes to pull away for a three-shot win over J.R. Hurley of Norman at Quail Creek Golf and Country Club.
Hudelson, a 32-year-old who works for NFP Property and Casualty of Oklahoma City and plays out of Gaillardia Country Club, followed his first-round 67 with a 4-under-par 68 over Quail Creek’s 7,099-yard track and finished at 9-under 135 for the tournament.
Hurley shot a final-round 70 while Phillip Bryan of Norman, who entered the round tied for the lead with Hudelson, posted a 73 and dropped to third at 4-under 140.
“It was nice to defend,” Hudelson said. “I hadn’t played a competitive round since January. With COVID, everything got cancelled.”
During his time at OC, Hudelson’s teammates included current PGA Tour player Rhein Gibson; Oscar Stark, a winner on the European Challenge Tour; current West Texas A&M men’s coach Axel Ochoa and numerous other players who each earned multiple NAIA or NCAA Division II All-America honors. OC won two NAIA and one National Christian College Athletic Association national titles during that span.
More often than not, Hudelson wasn’t in the Eagles’ starting lineup, but he credits OC coach David Lynn with helping push him to a higher level of competition – something that has paid off post-college.
Three years ago, Hudelson and former Oklahoma City University player Clark Collier were surprise finalists in the U.S. Golf Association Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Pinehurst, N.C. Last year, Hudelson won his first OGA title, taking the Mid-Amateur Championship at Twin Hills Country Club.
The week of the USGA Four-Ball “was the week that I learned I could hit shots under huge amounts of pressure,” Hudelson said. “It’s hard to replicate that (pressure) elsewhere, outside of a PGA event. It was just crazy. … All of a sudden you wake up one morning and you’ve got the only tee time on Pinehurst No. 2.
“I always joke with coach Lynn that it’s too bad I didn’t start my college career at 26. I think I might have finally cracked that top five every once in a while. Golf didn’t make sense to me in college. I put way too much pressure on myself. Now, it doesn’t matter if I go win the Masters – I’m still an insurance salesman.”
Hurley held a two-shot lead after seven holes on Tuesday. But at the par-5 No. 8, Hudelson hit a 40-yard bunker shot over a hill to get up and down for a birdie, while Hurley parred the hole. Hurley answered with a birdie at No. 9, at which point Hudelson realized, “I’ve got to start making some birdies.”
At No. 10, Hudelson knocked home a 20-foot birdie putt and pulled back into a share of the lead with a birdie at No. 11. Then came the pivotal No. 12, a par-3 with a tee shot over a lake. Hurley’s first tee shot found the water, while Hudelson’s nestled in a grass bunker to the right of the hole and Bryan’s went into a sand bunker in front of the hole.
Hudelson saved par, but Bryan bogeyed and Hurley ended up with a double bogey, giving Hudelson a two-shot lead that never was threatened.
“All that happened bang, bang, bang,” Hudelson said. “After that, I didn’t have to get aggressive. That was the best part. I just had to keep it in the fairway. That really freed me up.”
For good measure, Hudelson sunk an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 15 while Hurley missed a birdie opportunity of equal length. Hudelson just missed an eagle putt on the par-5 No. 18 but left himself a simple birdie putt to close out the tournament.
2020 OGA Mid-Amateur Championship
Monday, August 03, 2020 – Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Quail Creek Golf & Country Club, Quail Creek Golf & Country Club
Kyle Hudelson, Edmond – 67-68–135
JR Hurley, Norman – 68-70–138
Phillip Bryan, Mustang – 67-73–140
Ben Blundell, Oklahoma City – 70-73–143
Austin Schmidt, Bixby – 70-73–143
Daniel Langley, Shawnee – 71-73–144
Mike Hearne, Yukon – 73-72–145
Jay Smith, Edmond – 72-73–145
Michael Gotcher, Broken Arrow – 71-75–146
Heath Myers, Kingfisher – 73-74–147
Christopher Laughlin, Edmond – 77-71–148
Michael Nichols, Midwest City – 73-75–148
Preston Wilkins, Tulsa – 76-72–148
Rhett Bolen, Edmond – 76-74–150
Luke Phillips, Edmond – 74-76–150
Brandon Weeden, Edmond – 73-77–150
Harley Abrams, Tulsa – 76-76–152
Jeff Cox, Broken Arrow – 73-79–152
Eric Fox, Weatherford – 77-75–152
Dillon Jordan, Ardmore – 77-75–152
Pat Proctor, Norman – 76-76–152
Brian Birchell, Broken Arrow – 78-75–153
Joel Driver, Oklahoma City – 80-73–153
Keith Morris, Yukon – 78-75–153
Brett Alcorn, Edmond – 75-79–154
Jesse Pennington, Oklahoma City – 70-84–154
Josh Sallee, Oklahoma City – 75-79–154
Patrick West, Jenks – 74-80–154
Joshua Bryan, Edmond – 77-78–155
Jonathan Myers, Stillwater – 77-78–155
Erik Haworth, Owasso – 78-78–156
Peter Vitali, Oklahoma City – 80-76–156
Jon Cline, Enid – 78-79–157
Blake Jackson, Edmond – 79-78–157
Matthew Wellman, Edmond – 80-77–157
Matthew LaGere , Chandler – 77-81–158
Scott Athey, Enid – 79-80–159
Shay Varnell, Oklahoma City – 74-87–161
Kregg Wood, Leedy – 81-80–161
Chase Kuwitzky, Norman – 84-78–162
Carson Parker, Oklahoma City – 77-86–163
Blake Garland, Norman – 83-81–164
Braden Klein, Oklahoma City – 81-84–165
Austin Starrett, Oklahoma City – 82-83–165
Beau Adams, Tecumseh – 87-79–166
Richard Barnett, Tulsa – 84-82–166
Sky Rylant, Edmond – 84-83–167
Rowdy Anthony, Edmond – 91-80–171
Brett Dixon, Tulsa – 83-88–171
Jake Bullard, Oklahoma City – 84-88–172
Alan Geiger, Stroud – 80-92–172
Derek Hawkins, Shawnee – 86-86–172
Nick Gillespie, Broken Arrow – 83-91–174
Carter Cowan, Broken Arrow – 92-83–175
Eddie Martz, Oklahoma City – 86-91–177
Chase Moore, Norman – 95-83–178
Kent Jeffries, Oklahoma City – 85-94–179
Cale Challis, Norman – 92-98–190
Dane Despain, Ardmore – 82-NC–NC
Kael McFarland, Edmond – 77-NC–NC
Garrett Thomas, Edmond – 84-WD–WD