Steve Cox Victorious in the 20th Kentucky Senior Open
For the first time in his career, Steve Cox is a champion of the Kentucky Senior Open. The Head Golf Professional at Larue County Country Club erased a three-shot deficit at the beginning of the final round to win the title at Houston Oaks Golf Course in Paris.
On a day where conditions proved difficult in the form of strong wind gusts and wet conditions, Cox was the steadiest player in the field on Tuesday, firing the low round of the day at 70 (-2). Birdies on the 8th and 10th holes were surrounded by an opening fourteen holes filled with pars. Cox took a step back with a bogey on the 15th but got the shot back with a clutch birdie on the 18th to put him in the clubhouse at 141 (-3).
In the group behind Cox was the leader entering the final round, Florence’s Bruce Oldendick. He held the lead throughout the round but was unable to build upon it during the back nine. With several birdie opportunities on the homeward nine, Oldendick was unable to get any of them to fall, which would prove costly when a bogey on the 14th which dropped him back to the -3 mark that would eventually force a playoff with Cox.
Playing Houston Oaks’ par-five 1st hole in a sudden-death playoff, Cox made a terrific pitch shot from a downslope in the rough thirty yards from the hole which set up a tap-in birdie putt. Oldendick had a birdie putt from about fifteen feet that could have sent the playoff to a second hole, but the putt narrowly slid past the edge and eliminated Oldendick’s chances to win the championship.
“I just had consistent play this week,” Cox said after his victory. “I had one double bogey and one bogey yesterday along with one bogey today. I just focused on hitting greens and only had a single three-putt during these two rounds. I kind of knew my position on the last and needed a birdie to catch Bruce. I hit a nine-iron to three feet, made the putt and at that point just had to wait to see if it would be enough. When I got to the playoff I figured I might as well try to give it a go and see if I could reach the hole in two. I pushed my second shot just a touch and the ball came to rest on a downslope. I took out my fifty-eight-degree wedge, opened it up and it came off perfectly. I’m just very happy right now. To go through back surgery, come back to compete against these guys and win… pretty happy for sure.”
Amateur Gary Backlund was also a winner at Houston Oaks today. The Mount Sterling resident went 71-72 for a two-day total of 143 (-1) and cruise to a four-shot victory in the Super-Senior Division for players sixty years of age or older. Backlund’s nearest challenger was Shelbyville’s Dennis Long who finished in second place at 147 (+3).
ROUND TWO NOTES:
- Due to weather, play was reorganized into a shotgun start after thunderstorms entered the area shortly before 9:00 a.m. EDT. Play was delayed for three hours until the resumption at 12:00 p.m. EDT in which every group began the final round across the golf course.
- For the second straight day, the 4th and 5th holes played as the hardest and easiest holes on the course, respectively. With the 4th playing at an average score-to-par of +1.15, the 5th hole at -0.12 became imperative to get back on track for many players. The 4th was the only hole in the second round that did not surrender a single birdie.
- Eagles were slightly more abound during the final round as four were made throughout the day, all on par-fives. Both the 1st and 10th holes were eagled once apiece while the 5th was eagled twice.
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The Kentucky PGA Section would like to thank the staff at Houston Oaks Golf Course for their assistance in making the 20th Kentucky Senior Open a huge success. Players, fans and volunteers were all vocal about their enthusiasm for the golf course and the hospitality the facility provided. The Section hopes each player and spectator enjoyed their experience at this year’s Championship and appreciates each person’s part in making this event so memorable. Congratulations to Steve on his victory!