By Ken MacLeod
EDMOND – Brendon Jelley added to an impressive list of recent accomplishments by Oklahoma State golfers by winning his second consecutive Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship.
His 3 and 2 victory over Jeff Coffman at Oak Tree National Wednesday made Jelley the first back-to-back champion since Joe Nick of Okmulgee in 1992 and 1993. Jelley said he was inspired by OSU teammate Jordan Niebrugge finishing as low amateur in the Open Championship last Sunday.
"That was impressive. Jordan is fully capable of playing with anyone and everybody has been playing good this summer," Jelley said. "I think we’re going to have a special season."
Jelley, 20, lives in Tulsa, attended Jenks High School and is entering his redshirt sophomore season at OSU. His father Steve Jelley, who taught him the game at an early age, served as his caddie as he did a year ago when Jelley won at The Patriot in Owasso.
"This means a lot to me," Jelley said. "I’ve had a rough time personally the past few weeks and this helps."
Coffman, an Oklahoma City businessman who is a member of nearby Gaillardia Country Club, gave Jelley all he could handle early. After Jelley birdied the first hole, Coffman birdied three of the next five on the renowned Pete Dye layout to grab a 1-up lead.
"Jeff is a great player," Jelley said. "My game plan was just to come out and make pars and usually that’s good enough to win a lot of holes on Oak Tree. Jeff was hitting everything close early and making birdies. My hope was to get to the back nine even or better as that has been the better nine for me all week."
The back nine at Oak Tree has a succession of extremely difficult par-4s that will test any golfer and Jelley’s length and consistency has given him the edge on the field there all week.
This match began to swing back Jelley’s way on the par-4 seventh. With Coffman facing a mid-range putt for par, Jelley made a soft pitch in for birdie from below the green right with the pin tucked near the right edge. That evened the match.
"That was definitely the turning point in the match," Jelley said. "He had about 10 feet for par and I had a tricky up and down. I was lucky to hit the pin there. That was a big momentum swing."
Coffman remained accurate with his short irons, but Jelley had too much of an advantage off the tee on the longer par 4s. He now drives the ball 300 yards consistently and can easily move it out in the 320-yard range.
Coffman pointed to the par-4 10th hole as the turning point from his perspective. He was facing a 15-foot birdie putt while Jelley was 65 yards short of the pin in two shots after driving into a bunker. But Jelley hit a pitch that sizzled to a stop eight inches from the cup and escaped with a half when Coffman missed his birdie.
"I caught that one just right and it bounced twice and stopped," Jelley said. "Sometimes a good up-and-down can be just as important as a birdie."
Jelley won the 471-yard par-4 11th to go 3 up, gave one back with a careless three-putt on 12. Both players bogeyed the difficult par-4 15th, but Jelley bounced back to end it with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 16th.
"I played good early and just had a few loose tee shots," Coffman said. "Brendon doesn’t miss a shot. I knew I would have to make a lot of birdies because he’s not going to give you anything."
It was the farthest Coffman had ever advanced in the State Amateur, having previously made it to the semifinals at Southern Hills Country Club in 2012.
Jelley won his semifinal match 2 and 1 over Bill Bishop Jr., also a Gaillardia member. Coffman defeated University of Oklahoma golfer Griffin Pierce of Edmond 4 and 3.
Notes: Other players to win back-to-back OGA State Amateur titles are Jim Kane in 1979-80 and Bob Dickson in 1965-66. It was won three times successively by Glen Fowler (1958-60) and H.G. Gwinn (1910-12). The record is four by James Kennedy (1920-23).
Oklahoma Golf Association
State Amateur Championship
July 20-22, 2015
Oak Tree National
Match Play Results
Round — (Semifinal)
Brendon Jelley, Tulsa, Okla. (1) def. Bill Bishop Jr, Okc, Okla. (45), 2 and 1
Jeff Coffman, Oklahoma City, Okla. (35) def. Griffin Pierce, Edmond, Okla. (55), 4 and 3
Round — (Final)
Brendon Jelley, Tulsa, Okla. (1) def. Jeff Coffman, Oklahoma City, Okla. (35), 3 and 2