Logan Boatner shot a third consecutive 67 to capture the Firecracker Open by a shot over Brian Noonan. Shown here celebrating the victory with his parents and Tori Bales, his girlfriend who caddied for him in the last round, Boatner won in a dramatic fashion with a 40 foot eagle across a slippery green on the par four 18th.
A week ago Doug Smith, a well known and appreciated golf writer for the Austin American Statesman said in his bi-weekly Thursday golf column that he would take Steve Paterson, Michael Cooper and Brian Noonan against the field in the Firecracker Open. That’s conventional wisdom and his prediction almost came true.
No one, except perhaps his parents and Boatner himself, were picking Boatner to win the Firecracker. Although he was playing good and had recently finished in the top 30 of the Texas Amateur, he was facing a field with numerous titles to their credit. But Boatner, who grew up playing golf in Austin and will be a senior at Sam Houston State, felt good about his game.
He started the day at eight under par and was paired with Brian Noonan and Steve Paterson. He combined two birdies with two bogeys to shoot even par on the front side. Then he birdied 10, 14, and 16 to get to eleven under par and near the lead. He bogeyed 17 to stand at ten under on the 18th tee.
His playing partner Brian Noonan, a former winner of the Firecracker and three time Men’s City Champion, was eleven under par on the 18th tee. In addition, Alex Levy, who opened with a 64 and shared the lead after the first two rounds, was at eleven under par standing on the 17th tee box. A victory by Boatner was unlikely at that point in time.
But, as Levy hooked his tee shot into the trees of the 17th tee and had no chance to make par, Boatner was smashing a 290 yard tee shot into the wind and onto the left side of the par four 18th green. Levy, shown here facing his difficulties, lost his change at the title with a double bogey on 17.
As Levy, Erik Henson and Riley Pumphrey played the 17th, a loud roar drifted back to the 17th green when Boatner had made his eagle putt.
Noonan, who had a birdie putt on the 18th to tie Boatner, narrowly missed and the championship was over. Boatner finished twelve under and the deal was done.
Boatner’s comments to the press after the round demonstrated a well spoken individual with a healthy respect for the traditions of the tournament and the Austin golfing community in which he learned to play the game. It was obvious that the victory meant a lot to him and that he will cherish the title.
The story lines in a Firecracker Open are almost endless. Here are a few:
- Noonan finishes second by one shot. He’s truly one of the best competitors in Austin
- Erik Henson’s return to Austin the golfing scene demonstrates he still has game
- Alex Levy’s has the firepower to win but needs experience in that situation
- Paterson finished T6 and feels like he played bad
- Hagen Fell’s 66 is the low final round
- Michael Cooper’s raising kids but can still play
- Mike Grindle’s five under total is a personal best in Firecracker
- It took 74 or 75 to qualify for the tournament and the 36 hole cut was +6.
The City of Austin Staff are to be complemented on running a great tournament. Pictured here are Steve Hammond, Jimmy Olivares, and Mike Branski as they keep a watchful eye on the trophy presentation. These guys and their staff run the tournament and maintain the golf course. The combination of great logistics, great weather, and a golf course that was in good condition made it a very enjoyable experience for the players and the gallery. Cudos to them for a fine job.
Thanks to the press for the coverage. Local news stations were on hand to capture the excitement of the tournament and they happened to film Boatner’s final putt. Check the local news stations to get a glimpse of that action. As usual, there was a healthy gallery for the tournament and everyone seemed to have a great time.