Iowa's Alex Moorman overcomes pressure with late birdie to win The Railer

Alex Moorman, a sophomore-to-be at Iowa, won the 2018 Railer, Kansas Stroke Play Championship on Sunday in Newton at Sand Creek Station. Moorman won by one stroke with his three-round total of 206.
Alex Moorman, a sophomore-to-be at Iowa, won the 2018 Railer, Kansas Stroke Play Championship on Sunday in Newton at Sand Creek Station. Moorman won by one stroke with his three-round total of 206. The Wichita Eagle

For a chance to force a playoff the ball had to go in and Blake Murray's chip shot from just off the No. 18 green was trickling straight at the hole.

Alex Moorman, who had the one-shot lead at The Railer, Kansas Stroke Play Championship, anxiously watched Murray's ball take a slight turn to the right and nestle an inch away from the cup.

Moorman exhaled, then finished out a two-putt to clinch the victory with a 3-under round of 69 on Sunday at Sand Creek Station, his three-day total of 206 besting Murray by one in the open division.

But after it was done, Moorman and Murray both agreed on what they thought was going to happen on No. 18.

"I thought it was going in," Moorman said, both in relief and amazement.

"There wasn't a lot to it," Murray said. "I left it just a bit to the right. But man, I thought that was in."

In the senior division, Kansas City's Don Kuehn won the tournament by 14 strokes with his three-day total of 206.

The action-packed final hole was a deserved finish to a final round full of excitement, as the championship essentially became a duel between Moorman, a sophomore-to-be at Iowa, and Murray, a junior-to-be at Central Oklahoma.

Murray entered the day with a one-stroke advantage, but by the turn on Sunday, Moorman had rallied for a three-shot lead. That's when Murray started going to work, birdieing the first two holes of the back-nine to draw within a stroke then finally drawing level with Moorman with another birdie on No. 16.

The momentum continued with his tee shot on the par-3 No. 17, as Murray settled his shot around six feet from the pin. But Moorman answered right back, matching Murray's excellent tee shot with one of his own.

"That's what we all play for," Moorman said. "Coming down the stretch, under pressure, and you've got to perform."

Staring down a 10-footer with about a foot of break from left to right, Moorman curled his birdie putt in as the left side of the hole sucked the ball inward.

The pressure shifted to Murray. This time, Murray couldn't convert as his six-foot putt was left on the low side.

"Looking back, that's the one that hurts a little," Murray said. "But give Alex credit. He played great and matched everything I did."

For Moorman, the putt was redemption after he also missed short birdie putt on No. 16 to give up his lead.

"I was a little fired up with myself after missing that putt," Moorman said. "I had to get that out of my system."

Murray had to be the one to apply the pressure on the par-4, 373-yard No. 18, but his 8-iron approach shot from 155 yards out fell just short of the green. Moorman played his approach shot safe, some 15feet away from the pin, which meant a comfortable two-putt.

Murray had to chip in to put the pressure on Moorland and for a second, he thought he had.

Instead, the ball he thought was going to drop remained an inch away from the hole and Moorman was the one with the $550 in prize money and the trophy.

"I've come here for four years now and I haven't been able to get this yet," said Moorman, who began his career at the University of Kansas before transferring to Iowa. "This one feels pretty good."

The Railer, Kansas Stroke Play Championship

Final round, par 72

Open Division

Medalists: 1. Alex Moorman, Centerville, Iowa, 69-68-69—206; 2. Blake Murray, Mooreland, Okla., 70-66-71—207; t-3. Blake Allen, Lenexa, 70-72-68—210; Andrew Beckler, Topeka, 71-70-69—210; 5. Luke Gannon, Bel Aire, 70-70-71—211; 6. Elliot Soyez, Goddard, 71-70-71—212; t-7. Conrad Roberts, Lawrence, 68-72-73—213; Douglas Rios-Ceballos, Hutchinson, 71-69-73—213; 9. Lane Wallace, Yukon, Okla., 71-71-72—214; 10. Nick Kagy, Overland Park, 71-74-70—215.

Senior Division

Medalists: 1. Don Kuehn, Kansas City, 66-69-71—206; t-2. Bob Hartmann, Andover, 68-77-75—220; Steve Newman, Wichita, 73-72-75—220; t-4. John Bailey, Nashville, Tenn., 73-71-77—221; Gregory Goode, Salina, 75-71-75—221; t-6. Tracy Chamberlin, Wichita, 74-74-74—222; Steve Randall, Lawrence, 73-76-73—222; Randy Vautravers, Andover, 79-70-73—222; t-9. Robert Bezek, Ottawa, 75-72-77—224; Michael Casamento, Wichita, 73-77-74—224; Jeffrey Knox, Salina, 77-73-74—224.