Dustin Garza fondly recalls the hospitality Wichita Country Club professional Cary Cozby used to show him and his former Wichita State teammates as they traveled around the city to practice and work on their golf games.
Even though Garza is a Nationwide Tour rookie these days, the partnership still works pretty well.
Cozby's chipping display on the final hole helped Garza win the Scholfield Hyundai Shootout — a six-hole, two-man scramble — on Monday at Crestview Country Club. The event capped the first day of festivities for this week's Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, which begins Thursday.
Garza, a 23-year-old, two-time All-American at WSU, pocketed the $750 winner's check when he and Cozby defeated PGA Tour veteran Woody Austin and Willowbend director of golf Rod Nuckolls in a chip-off after the teams survived eliminations to reach Crestview North's par-5 finishing hole.
After both teams birdied the 520-yard 18th, Cozby drained a pitch shot from the back of the green to put the pressure on Austin and Nuckolls, who will both play in the Wichita Open. After Nuckolls missed his pitch attempt, Austin lofted the ball softly on to the green and watched it roll in the hole to extend the chip-off.
"A guy like Woody who's played on the tour all these years, it doesn't surprise me," Cozby said. "That was awesome."
But Cozby backed up his first chip with a second that stopped within two feet of the hole. With ominous clouds approaching, none of the other golfers came closer.
"Cary's one of the best guys I've ever met," said Garza, who won seven tournaments during his senior season at WSU. "He was always so supportive of letting us come out there and get ready for tournaments. All the course pros were absolutely wonderful to us at Wichita State."
A few of them played in the shootout along with Nationwide pros like Ben Bates and Josh Broadaway. As a crowd of approximately 250 looked on, the finalists were the ones with the closest Wichita ties.
While Cozby secured the victory, Garza did his share.
On the par-3 17th, Garza curled in a left-to-right breaking 35-footer for birdie that ignited the first roar of the week at the tournament's feature hole. Garza's tee shot landed on the upper tier of the green. He nursed his putt to the edge of a ridge, then raised his arms triumphantly as the ball scooted down a hill into the cup.
"I knew I hit a good putt," Garza said. "I just didn't know how fast it was going to go down that hill. Come Thursday, that putt is going to be almost impossible."
Austin settled for second, but got a good look at most of Crestview North's layout on Monday. He has only played the entire course once even though he participates in an annual Wichita Children's Home fund-raiser. Earlier Monday, he toured the front nine while watching his younger son, Peyton, play in a junior pro-am.
"We hit some good shots to make it to the 18th hole," Austin said. "But I was definitely lost on each tee."
14 qualify for Wichita Open — Brett Swedberg of Gilbert, Ariz., fired a 5-under-par 67 to win the Monday qualifying tournament at Auburn Hills and was among 14 golfers who played their way into Thursday's Wichita Open.
Derek Tolan of Highlands Ranch, Colo., and Scott Parel of Augusta, Ga., carded 4-under 68s to lead he field at Newton's Sand Creek Station.
Auburn Hills qualifiers
Brett Swedberg, Gilbert, Ariz., 67; Nick Rouse, Pensacola, Fla., 68; Seung-su Han, Tustin, Calif., 68; Parker LeBarge, San Antonio, 69; ChaddCocco, Austin, Texas, 70; Mark Walker, Hurst, Texas, 70; Brent Long, Carthage, Tenn., 70.
Sand Creek Station qualifiers
Derek Tolan, Highlands Ranch, Colo., 68; Scott Parel, Augusta, Ga., 68; Santiago Rivas, Windermere, Fla., 69; Mitch Hendon, Arlington, Texas, 69; Joey McLister, Charlotte, N.C., 69; Cole Howard, Burlison, Texas, 71; Keith Nolan, Knoxville, Tenn., 71.