The months of July and August saw the crowning of four new Major Champions. Each of these four young, talented golfers overcame adversity to add milestone wins to their budding competitive resumes. The victories they achieve most certainly will spur them on to even greater accomplishments in the near future.
Austin’s Bentley Cotton got the Championship summer underway in mid-July with her 1-up win at the 99th Women’s Texas Amateur. A few weeks later, Zach Heffernan of Fair Oaks Ranch and Katy’s Lauren Nguyen won their divisions at the 94th Texas Junior Amateur.
Finally, Trey Bosco from Austin in early August won the TGA’s marquee championship, the 111th Texas Amateur. Let’s take a quick look back at how they did it.
Bosco, an incoming freshman at Baylor, won the 111th Texas Amateur after carding a final round 2-under-par 69 at Boot Ranch Golf Club. The 18-year-old became the second consecutive Baylor Bear to win the Texas Amateur; Lewisville’s Ryan Grider won the 110th edition last summer at Dallas Athletic Club.
Bosco prevailed at Boot Ranch with a 72-hole total of 5-under 279. He won by one shot.
By the time Bosco and his fellow competitors in the final group reached the back nine at the stunning, Hal Sutton-designed Hill Country course, there were 10 players within two shots of the lead. Bosco birdied the 11th hole, but he followed it with a bogey on the 12th.
“Coming down to 15, 16, 17, I was like, OK, might need to turn on the jets a little bit,” Bosco said. “I made a bomb on 15, and then from there I just had this tunnel vision to where all the putts just seemed to drop.”
He birdied all three holes and held off a host of challengers to score the victory.
“It’s still kind of sinking in, but it means the world,” Bosco said. “Being a Texas Am champion, you get to go down in the record books. It brings me a lot of confidence. It means that I can play with all these guys and I can compete with all the top college players.”
For more on the 111th Texas Amateur, click here.
Midweek during the 99th Women’s Texas Amateur, Cotton admitted she came into the championship with zero expectations. When she left after it was over, she did so as part of Texas golf history.
The incoming freshman at the University of Texas scored a 1-up victory on July 10 over Texas A&M freshman Makenzie Niblett on Cotton’s new home course as part of the UT Women’s Golf Program.
“No better place to win it,” Cotton said.
In a battle of two Austinites, Cotton struck first with a birdie on the second hole. Although the Championship Match had several momentum swings throughout the day, Cotton never trailed.
By the time they reached the 17th hole, Cotton was 2 up. When her approach shot trickled off the back of the green, Niblett eyed an opening.
From 102 yards out, Niblett flighted her 48-degree wedge just past the hole. Her ball dug in, spun back and disappeared into the hole. It was her second hole-out for eagle in as many days; she did the same thing the day before on the par-5 ninth from 89 yards.
Despite the dramatics from Niblett, Cotton still led, 1 up, heading to 18. Cotton made a routine par, forcing Niblett to make an 18-foot birdie putt to extend the match. Niblett’s putt just missed, giving Cotton the win.
“I was a little nervous on 18, but I just wanted to make par,” Cotton said. “I kept breathing and told myself, ‘You can do it.’”
She did do it. And she etched her name alongside some of the all-time greats of the game. For more on the 99th Women’s Texas Amateur, click here.
Heffernan successfully defended his 2019 Texas Junior Amateur title with a one-shot victory at Horseshoe Bay Resort’s Ram Rock Golf Course. Nguyen fired a closing 6-under-par 66 to come from behind and win the Girls Division by one shot at Apple Rock.
Heffernan, a 2021 Baylor University commit, carded 66-70 in his first two rounds and entered the final round tied third and two strokes behind the 36-hole leader Hanseung Chang of Cedar Park. Heffernan trailed Chang by three shots with nine holes to play.
Heffernan birdied No. 14 to pick up one shot. He got another back when Chang bogeyed the par-3 17th. They headed to No. 18 tied for the lead.
Heffernan fired his tee shot up the right-center of the fairway and flipped his wedge shot onto the putting surface. Chang blocked his tee shot out of bounds and finished with a double-bogey. Heffernan two-putted for the victory.
“It feels good to go back-to-back,” Heffernan said. “It’s amazing.”
Heffernan joins the short list of players to notch consecutive Texas Junior Amateur wins. Only two other players in the tournament’s 94-year history have won back-to-back, Hunter Haas in 1994-95 and Buck Luce in 1937-38.
In the Girls Division, Nguyen made history of her own when she became only the second golfer to win the Texas Junior Amateur in both age divisions. She won the Girls 14 & Under division in 2017.
This time in the oldest division, for girls ages 15-18, Nguyen started the day two shots behind Avery Zweig of McKinney. Nguyen, the 2019 LJT Player of the Year, made three birdies on the front nine, then birdied No. 10 to earn a share of the lead. Her clutch birdie on the final hole won her the championship.
“When I won the 14 & Under, I looked at the girl who won the 15 and over,” Nguyen said. “I told myself that’s what I want to do, too.”
For more on the 94th Texas Junior Amateur, click here.