The field for the 2022 Patriot All-America, and the brand new accompanying tournament The Thunderbolt, will have a decidedly Oklahoma flavor, including only the second NAIA golfer to make the women’s field.
Maddi Kamas of Oklahoma City University has landed an invitation to the tournament Dec. 29-31 at The Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz.
Three other players with strong Oklahoma ties in the women’s field are Faith Belmear of Owasso and Missouri State University, Grace Kilcrease of the University of Tulsa and Lilly Thomas, also of TU.
In the men’s field are Stephen Campbell Jr., Ben Lorenz and Edmond’s Jaxon Dowell of the University of Oklahoma, Jared Strathe of Owasso and Oral Roberts University, Mateo Pulcini of Oklahoma Christian University, and Oklahoma State’s Dillon Stewart and Leo Oyo.
J.P. Roller of Jenks and Texas Tech is playing in The Thunderbolt, a second event that was added to the festivities.
Kamas, a sophomore from Kingfisher, collected her berth after becoming a Women’s Golf Coaches Association NAIA all-American in 2021-22. The field includes 66 of the top women’s college golfers in the nation.
If she should prevail, Kamas would be the second golfer from Kingfisher to win the prestigious tournament. Mason Overstreet of Kingfisher and later the University of Arkasnas won in 2018. His father Todd Overstreet was Kamas’ principal in high school.
“I’m very excited and honored to be able to play in this tournament,” Kamas said. “I’m looking forward to seeing which soldier I’ll be representing.”
Participating golfers receive a golf bag donated by PING Corporation at the event’s opening ceremony emblazoned with the name and branch of service of a fallen or injured military member whom they shall represent. Participants also receive a card with the soldier’s story so they can be familiar with that soldier. The golf bags are then sold with proceeds donated to Folds of Honor to support the families affected. Thunderbolt players will also represent Folds of Honor soldiers with biographies on cards attached to their bags.
Kamas’ great grandfather, Lewis Kamas, was a decorated World War II airman who was captured after his bomber was shot down in 1944 over Germany. He served the rest of the war as a prisoner of war and was awarded two Purple Hearts.
The honor for Kamas comes after a tumultuous fall season for the sophomore and her OCU teammates. Previous head coach Marty McCauley, who recruited her and all the OCU squad, was released without explanation in the middle of the fall season, and later replaced by Josh Gorzney. Teammate Reagan Chaney transferred to the University of Oklahoma.
“Coach Gorzney just started a few weeks ago but he’s been awesome,” Kamas said. “Nothing has changed here with our goals on the team, it’s to win a national championship. We’ve got very good players and we all push each other.”
Gorzney came to OCU after being an assistant at Arkansas State to head coach M.J. Despiens Shaw, who led OCU to national championship in 2008 and 2009.
The Patriot All America features college golfers who were all-Americans across all affiliations the previous season. Conducted in a partnership between the Golf Coaches Association of America, the Arizona Golf Association and the West Valley Mavericks, The Patriot All-America honors fallen or severely wounded soldiers in collaboration with the Folds of Honor Foundation, based in Owasso.
In 2022-23, Kamas has compiled a 72.56 scoring average in nine rounds. Kamas took her fourth career individual title in the Missouri State/Payne Stewart Invitational on Sept. 12-13 in Springfield, Mo. Kamas posted her season-best round to wrap up the tournament as part of her 74-73-68–215 at Rivercut Golf Course. She became the first Star to win a tournament against an NCAA Division I field since Elia Folch nabbed the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders Classic on Feb. 24-25, 2014 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Kamas garnered her fifth career Sooner Athletic Conference golfer of the week following the win.
In addition to playing in The Patriot, Kamas said she is spending the off season working on improving her short game and mental game. She is a student of instructor Joey Wuertemberger at Crown Academy in Arlington.
– Ken MacLeod and wire reports