Springfield, MO—Poplar Bluff’s Carr Vernon continued his mastery of the Twin Oaks CC course during Wednesday’s 36 hole final of the 17th Missouri Amateur Stroke Play Championship. Vernon, a collegiate player at Cal State, Monterey Bay, finished with a 14-under-par total of 270 and a six shot margin over runners-up Brad Nurski of St. Joseph and Joe Migdal of Ballwin.
Vernon, the only player in the field of almost 100 players to post four rounds under the par of 71, credited his concentration and focus for the impressive performance. “I told myself this morning (Wednesday) to stay in the moment and focus hard on each shot. By and large I succeeded in that, and thus got a good outcome.”
Conditions Wednesday afternoon were especially tough as a strong and gusty wind blew across Twin Oaks and gave the field some trouble in club selection and aiming lines. Vernon began the double round on the final day tied with defending Missouri Amateur champion Joey Johnson at five-under 137. However, the two went in opposite directions in the morning as Vernon shot 66 to Johnson’s 73.
Asked about the keys to his win, Vernon said, “I drove it pretty straight and putted well all four rounds. I made some nice putts and only had one three-putt all week. My coach at Monterey, Jason Owen, introduced me to the ‘vector system’ of greens reading last year and it’s worked well for me ever since I got the hang of it. Now I trust it completely and it feels pretty natural even though it may look strange to someone who doesn’t know what I’m doing out there before I putt.”
Brad Nurski, 2012 Stroke Play Champion and one of several accomplished players chasing Vernon, commented, “I knew it was going to be tough starting Wednesday two shots behind Carr. He is a really good player and he was obviously hitting it well. It was tough out there, especially in the afternoon, and you just have to play your game and try to go as low as you can. We don’t really get much info about other players or how we stand during the day. I knew after the morning that Carr was playing well and leading by several shots—but that’s about all. I played well (-8), but obviously not well enough. Carr never went backwards and so gave us little chance to tighten things up and put some pressure on him.”
It’s pretty unique that Carr’s dad Jimmy played in the event, too, but missed the 36 hole cut by one shot. “I’m very proud of Carr,” he said. “I know how tough it was out there because I tried to qualify and couldn’t get it done. Walking with Carr the last day was fun and not too stressful because he drove it well, hit a lot of fairways and greens, and rarely put himself in trouble. He did mistakenly shoot a tree behind the green instead of the flagstick on 10 in the afternoon and gave me a bit of a shock when he then air-mailed the green because he had a wrong yardage. Luckily he found the ball and got away with only a bogey.”
In fact, Vernon made only two bogeys all day Wednesday, one in each round, but offset those with 11 birdies over the 36 holes. He really put distance between himself and his pursuers with three straight birdies to close out his morning round of 66.
Missouri Golf Association Executive Director Scott Hovis commented on the three day event at Twin Oaks: “We were really pleased with the facility, the golf course, and the strength of our field. The staff at Twin Oaks was very accommodating and I thank them and their members for basically giving us their course for the better part of three days. The grounds crew worked hard to give us a great playing experience and they got excellent marks from the players as to the course condition. It’s not easy keeping a course in championship shape when one has to deal with the heat and wind we get this time of year. And we had entrants from all corners of the state and a very strong field with a number of past Stroke Play and Missouri Amateur champions playing. Joey Johnson had a chance for the rare double of the Amateur and Stroke Play in the same year. He gave it a good go, but Carr’s performance was just outstanding and I don’t think anyone was going to beat him this week-14-under is really good playing! We’re proud to have him as our 2014 Stroke Play Champion.”
For complete results of the 2014 Missouri Amateur Stroke Play go to www.mogolf.org
Jim Vastyan | The Missouri Golf Post