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Osborne, Irving log sentimental Texas Four-Ball win
Josh Irving and Will Osborne (TGA photo)
Josh Irving and Will Osborne (TGA photo)

For different reasons, winning the Texas Four-Ball Championship together Saturday afternoon at Wichita Falls Country Club holds special meaning for Josh Irving of Dallas and Fort Worth’s Will Osborne.

The two talented mid-amateurs shot a final round 5-under 66 to post a three-day total of 15-under 198, good for a two-shot victory over the San Antonio tandem of Luke Antonelli and Braden Graham. The victory was Irving and Osborne’s second Texas Four-Ball title in three years; they teamed to win this event in 2017 as well.

They might have won it three consecutive years if not for an untimely death in Irving’s family last year. Irving was unable to play in the final round of the 2018 championship at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, as he attended a family funeral. Irving and Osborne carved out a one-shot lead through 36 holes at Maridoe, and Osborne tried to bring home the championship on his own ball but came up short.

“It was definitely a redemption thing for me this year,” said Irving, the 2014 and ’15 Texas Player of the Year and a 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist. “I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder not being able to play last year. It was nice to close this one out. It means a lot.”

For Osborne, it means something different. He learned to play golf at Wichita Falls CC. He hit his first shot here at age 12. It’s still his family’s home club, and it’s where he spent his teenage years learning how to play and compete.

“It was great,” said Osborne, the 2017 North Texas Player of the Year. “There was a lot of support out here, friends from the past who I saw throughout the tournament. It was neat to win a big tournament. This is the biggest tournament I’ve won here on this course. It was exciting.”

Irving and Osborne held a one-shot lead over Antonelli and Graham after 36 holes. Osborne rolled in a birdie on the first hole to push the lead to two shots. It grew to a three-shot lead after Antonelli and Graham suffered a bogey on the par-4 third hole. Three holes later, Graham converted an all-world up-and-down for a kick-in birdie. Irving answered by draining a 12-foot putt for eagle, punctuated with an emphatic fist pump. That pushed the lead to four shots. Antonelli and Graham made a back-nine charge with four birdies, but Irving and Osborne played bogey-free golf over the final 10 holes to win.

As competitors, Irving and Osborne are nearly polar opposites. Irving said that’s the key to their success.

“In case you don’t know, I’m a little bit fiery on the golf course, and Will couldn’t be more opposite,” Irving said. “He calms me down, and I think I pump him up. When we’re on, our games really complement each other. I wouldn’t say we’re unbeatable, but when we’re on, we’re hard to beat.”

Antonelli and Graham, who finished at 13-under 200 overall, can attest to that. They posted 4-under 67s over the final two rounds and played stellar golf, but couldn’t catch Irving and Osborne in the end.

“They just played great golf,” Graham said of the winners. “We hit it a little closer on the back nine and made a few putts, but they never gave us a chance to fight all the way back.”

Luke Kane of Amarillo and Perryton’s Tate Allred finished in third place after shooting a 7-under 64 in final round. They posted 12-under 201 overall. Tied for fourth place at 9-under 204 were Danny Lovell from Dallas and Carrollton’s Rick Sulzer, as well as 2018 champions Jordan Woolf of Fort Worth and Keller’s Jace Moore.

With his partner Moore sidelined with an illness on Saturday, Woolf turned in the round of the day. He shot a 4-under 67 on his own ball, a round that included six birdies.

“It was easy because there was no pressure,” he said. “On the first tee, I said I was going to shoot 77.”

Woolf and Moore aren’t finished with four-ball competitions. They qualified for the U.S. Four-Ball Championship, to be payed May 25-29 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.

In the Texas Four-Ball’s Senior Division, John Pierce and Craig Hall narrowly held on to successfully defend their 2018 championship. The San Antonio team scored a one-shot victory with a final round 65 over Mike Booker from Houston and San Antonio’s Pat Youngs.

Pierce and Hall finished the championship at 14-under 199, and they needed every single birdie they made. Booker and Youngs turned in an 8-under 63 in the final round, including a splendid back-nine 29 that featured six birdies. Pierce and Hall hung on with a bevy of par saves and validated their playoff victory at Maridoe in 2018 with another title. The duo finished tied for fourth place in 2017.

“To me this means a great deal,” Hall said. “I don’t get to play a whole lot of tournaments at this level. It’s always a treat to play with someone like John because he’s solid and clutch the whole time. This is a great honor for me.”

The final round started out as another cold, wet and windy day at Wichita Falls CC. After about a quarter-inch of rain fell overnight, the temperature was 50 degrees at 8 a.m. when the first groups teed off. By noon, the weather was friendlier; it was nearly 60 degrees with less than 10 mph wind. Rain jackets and sweaters came off, and many players sported short sleeves.

Over the past six weeks, Wichita Falls CC has taken on at least five inches of rain. The grounds crew did a magnificent job keeping the course playable and in championship condition.

San Antonio’s Bob Hullender and Jim Martin from Dallas ran away with the Super Senior Division title. After their final round 76, the dynamic duo finished the championship at 5-over 218, which was good for a five-shot victory.

“I was excited to be Bob’s partner because he has such a good track record,” said Martin, who was playing in his first TGA championship. “We played really well together as partners. When one of us needed help, the other one was there.”

ABOUT THE Texas Four-Ball

Eligibility: Entries are open to male amateur golfers age 25 or older as of the first round of tournament play, with a certified USGA Handicap Index of 8.4 or less. Please reference “TGA State Championship Eligibility” at www.txga.org for additional eligibility details.

Format: Scheduled for 54 holes of Four–Ball Stroke Play.

The field is limited to 80 teams, as outlined below:
Championship: 25 & Over (48 teams)
Senior: 55 & Over (20 teams)
Super Senior: 65 & Over (12 teams)

View Complete Tournament Information

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