Kurt Gibson hit more impressive shots during the Scholfield Hyundai Shootout on Monday night at Crestview Country Club. So did Nationwide Tour golfer Andrew Buckle, Gibson’s scramble partner in the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open’s kickoff event.
But Gibson, the Reflection Ridge club professional, landed a challenging bunker shot close enough to the pin to win a chip-off on the final hole against Willowbend partners Woody Austin and Rod Nuckolls and provide Buckle with the $800 winner’s prize.
For the second straight year, a local pro forced Derby’s Austin, a PGA Tour veteran, and Nuckolls to settle for second place in the six-hole competition, which began with seven two-man teams. Wichita Country Club’s Cary Cozby hit the winning shot with former Wichita State golfer Dustin Garza in last year’s competition.
“You just want to help him out,” said Gibson, who nearly holed an approach shot on a par-4 hole earlier in the evening. “We both hit some really good shots. It takes a lot of pressure off when you’re sitting in there close.”
Nationwide Tour golfers who competed in the event included Andres Gonzales, who is third on the tour’s money list this season; Jason Gore, who won three tour events in 2005; and Josh Broadaway, a tour veteran best known for his cross-handed grip.
But it was Buckle, who will make his fifth Wichita Open appearance this week, who best handled the breezy conditions along with Gibson. With the event starting on the par-4 10th hole on Crestview’s North course, Buckle hit his approach to within two feet for a conceded birdie that got his team off to a strong start.
“We kind of combined well, and Kurt certainly helped me out there on that last hole with that bunker shot,” Buckle said. “I didn’t hit a very good one, and I was a little surprised we won, but it was fun.”
Austin, who will play at Crestview for the second consecutive year, flourished during chip-offs at the par-3 12th and 17th holes that allowed him and Nuckolls to advance to the final hole. But after both of the final teams birdied the par-5 18th, Gibson led off the chip-off with a shot that stopped about eight feet from the hole. Nuckolls and Austin lofted shots that fell short of Gibson’s mark.
“That’s the first bunker shot I’ve hit all week,” Austin said. “It wasn’t a very good effort.”
Potter claimed one of seven berths at Sand Creek. Alan Wagner of Olavarria, Fla., carded a 68 to win the Newton qualifier.
Former North Carolina golfer Dustin Bray and Texan Christopher Ward shot 68s to lead seven qualifiers at Auburn Hills. Another spot was claimed by former Oklahoma State golfer Kevin Tway, the son of 1986 PGA Championship winner Bob Tway. Tway shot a 69.
Dustin Bray, Asheboro, N.C., 68; Christopher Ward, McKinney, Texas, 68; Kevin Tway, Edmond, Okla., 69; Clark Collier, Edmond, Okla., 69; Austin Bowman, Pryor, Okla., 69; Nate Barbee, Clive, Iowa, 70; Andre Metzger, Sioux Falls, S.D., 70.
Alan Wagner, Olavarria, Fla., 68; Chad Collins, Cloverdale, Ind., 69; Jeff Howard, Plano, Texas, 69; Zac Potter, Andover, 70; Jamie Arnold, Decatur, Ga., 70; Vince Covello, Ponte Vedra, Fla.; Joey McLister, Charlotte, 70.
1. Andrew Buckle-Kurt Gibson, $800; 2. Woody Austin-Rod Nuckolls, $500; 3. Jason Gore-Dave Henson, $350; 4. Andres Gonzales-Jim Elliott, $250; 5. (tie) Jerod Turner-Lee Johnson, Josh Broadaway-Cary Cozby and Ryan Hietala-Keith Gunter, $200.