The Ottumwa Courier

July 24, 2013

Walker wins Greater Ottumwa Championship

By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer @stjack423
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — He was a boy playing among men over the weekend.

In the end, he made it look like child’s play.

So it went this weekend for Ottumwa’s young golf prodigy and the local talent that tried to beat him, but it was also an opportunity to watch a young talent developing before their very eyes. Try as they might, nobody in the field could keep 16-year-old Matthew Walker from picking up his first win of the year in his first time out at the Greater Ottumwa City Golf Championships on Sunday.

For Walker, it was a pretty proud moment.

“It feels good. It’s my first time winning it, so that’s always a good accomplishment,” Walker said after winning the title with a two-round four-under par 138 total. “It feels good to do it on my home course.”

After Walker rallied on the front nine in the Men’s Championship Flight on Sunday to open a two-shot lead, dark clouds and heavy rain descended on Cedar Creek Golf Course. Golfers were brought in off the course with a distinct possibility that the Men’s portion of the tournament would have to be shortened to 27 holes due to the weather.

Instead, the decision was made to wait until 6 p.m. By then, the rain had gone and just enough daylight remained for Walker to hold off Aaron O’Brien for the title. Holding onto a one-shot lead with two holes to go, the soon-to-be Ottumwa High junior birdied the par-5 17th while O’Brien made a critical bogey to give him a three-shot cushion.

“It was actually pretty nerve-racking, especially after AOB (O’Brien) birdied 15 to get within one of me,” Walker said after a par on the 18th clinched the three-shot win. “It was a little nervous for a few holes as we were getting late.”

In the end, it was a fitting conclusion to the tournament with a great new champion being crowned.

“Matthew Walker earned it. He doesn’t just play golf. He comes out here every day and works on his game trying to get better,” Cedar Creek course manager Greg Wilson said. “He definitely earned this championship.”

Defending men’s champ Dusty Stewart entered Sunday with the lead by a stroke over Walker after a four-under first round 67 on Saturday. A front-nine round of 40 left Stewart at even par for the championship, where Stewart would finish to take third place this year.

“That’s just golf. That’s how it goes sometimes,” Stewart said of his final round. “Matt played well. He deserved to win.”

While Stewart gave back all four shots to par on the front nine Sunday, Walker played the front nine in one-under par. Only Mike Tiller had a better opening front stretch on Sunday in the Men’s Championship Flight.

After playing all 18 holes with the Ottumwa junior golfer, Stewart could see why Walker was able to not only contend, but beat a field of men at such an early age.

“He played well. He’s a great player,” Stewart said. “He handled the pressure well. All of us have more golf experience, but he gets to play every day too. In the end, he handled everything really well and deserved this championship.”

Walker has already competed in several major tournaments, most recently battling into a playoff to try and win the Iowa Junior PGA title before finishing eighth an Iowa Masters Tournament that also included top older players from around the state. The reigning Iowa Junior Golfer of the Year and defending 4A State individual champion certainly isn’t intimidated to mix it up with more experienced golfers.

“I’ve played in quite a few men’s tournaments, but this was nice because I just don’t know a lot of people when I go to those other tournaments,” Walker said. “Being here in my hometown and playing against so many people that are good guys I’ve gotten to know is a lot of fun and really special.”

Wilson presented the glass trophy that goes with earning the Greater Ottumwa City Championship to one of the youngest champions in the tournament’s long history. Wilson hopes that, someday, it will be sitting next to some even more prestigious trophies down the road.

“I know Matt’s got aspirations in the future for some type of professional golf,” Wilson said. “He’s just a really good kid. He works hard at it. It’s fun watching him play.”

Of course, it could be sitting next to other Greater Ottumwa City Championship trophies just like it.

“This was very special to win this (tournament) against some people that I know so well,” Walker said. “I feel very fortunate to win this. Hopefully, I’ll win it again in the future.”

Joining Walker as Greater Ottumwa City Golf Championship Flight winners on Sunday were Susie Wilson, who shot at two-round total of 171 to beat out Abbie Budan by three strokes for the women’s title. Gary Engle had the biggest comeback of the tournament as Engle rallied from third place in the championship flight to win the senior’s division on Sunday as Engle, one stroke behind Terry Godvin at the turn, fired a 35 on the back nine to win by five strokes over Godvin and Bill Allen with a 143 total.

Overall, 78 golfers took part in the two days of fun tournament golf that may have taken a little longer to finish, but was once again a success for Wilson and those that love golf in the City of Bridges.

“We’re up a few players from last year,” Wilson said. “It just seems to get bigger each year.”

2013 Greater Ottumwa City Golf Championship

At Cedar Creek Golf Course

Men’s Results

Championship Flight

Matthew Walker 68 70 138

Aaron O’Brien 70 71 141

Dusty Stewart 67 75 142

Mike Tuller 73 73 146

Chris Messer 69 78 147

Mick Lawson 73 76 149

Allen Nelson 73 79 152

Kip Stuart 74 80 154

Larry Coble 75 81 156

Anthony Roberts 75 84 159

First Flight

Jeremy Claussen 76 73 149

Kurt Anderson 78 76 154

Steve Comer 76 79 155

Bill Walker 78 77 155

Braxton Coble 80 78 158

Clint Tuller 77 82 159

Jeff Strunk 79 81 160

Brian Cutsforth 80 80 160

Dusty Ware 80 81 161

Doug Sloan 78 85 163

Shawn Ruckman 78 88 166

Bill Corrick 78 WD

Second Flight

Mike Richards 83 81 164

Austin Jones 84 83 167

Mike Courtney 84 86 170

Roger Ware 87 85 172

Eric Jensen 87 87 174

Logan Faler 88 87 175

Kyle Blair 84 93 177

Brett Bearden 84 WD

Steve White 84 WD

Donnie Long 84 WD

Tim Guiter 84 WD

Aaron Bright 88 WD

Branden Lien 89 WD

Mike Craff 89 WD

Matt Toomire 89 WD

Third Flight

Tim Mitchell 91 76 167

Dane Ware 91 85 176

Marty Counterman 90 90 180

Mark Garner 94 88 182

Jay Messerschmitt 96 89 185

Steven Langland 92 94 186

Don Goodwin 98 96 194

Blaine Sylvester 106 97 203

Tyler Crouse 103 116 219

Eric Pierson 124 125 249

Tony Roberts 90 WD

Antonio Maggio 96 WD

Rob Reck 96 WD

Mike Klyn 108 WD

Nate Goodwin 141 WD

Women’s Results

Championship Flight

Susie Wilson 81 90 171

Abbie Budan 84 90 174

Carol Haupert 87 91 178

First Flight

Margo Sears 94 90 184

Hannah Lien 96 90 186

Vicki Johnson 94 93 187

Loree Sarnat 100 96 196

Lea Ann Mercer 143 118 261

Senior Results

Championship Flight

Gary Engle 73 70 143

Bill Allen 70 78 148

Terry Godwin 71 77 148

Ron Stewart 73 77 150

First Flight

Dennis Martsching 77 82 159

Dick Guiter 80 82 162

Bob Baker 83 79 162

Tom Jones 79 84 163

Robin Ragen 84 79 163

Jay Marcus 84 79 163

Andy Schmitt 82 82 164

Fred Mundt 81 90 171

Second Flight

A.J. Clark 88 87 175

Fred Long 89 89 178

Bill Austin 88 95 183

Al Mock 91 98 189

Donnie Middleton 97 96 193