Jake Budde captured the 2017 Firecracker Open with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff with Straton Nolen. Budde, pronounced like buddy, was presented the Firecracker Open Championship Trophy by Billy Clagett, a six time winner of the Firecracker.
Budde, who played basketball at Lake Travis as his primary sport, also played on the golf team as a secondary sport. He went to Nebraska after high school and has recently turned his attention to golf because he loves it.
Budde will be playing golf at the College of Charleston where Ellis is an assistant coach under head coach Mark McEntire, a former Austin golfing star with multiple tournament wins.
Budde, Stratton Nolen, and Reid Davenport had spent the day locked in a duel for the championship with all three suffering some disappointments and experiencing some high points during the round.
Davenport three putted 15 and 16 so he and Budde stood on the 18th tee 10 under par for the tournament, one shot behind Stratton Nolen, who was at 11 under.
Nolen and played first missed the fairway left on the short par four. Davenport hit a good tee shot short left of the green. Budde smashed his drive onto the green about twenty feet from the hole and more importantly, below the hole that was located on a significant slope.
Nolen played a beautiful recovery shot onto the green about 18 feet below the hole and Davenport played a pitch shot to about 15 feet short of the hole. All three players two putted, giving Budde a birdie with pars for Davenport and Nolen. Tied at 11 under par, Nolen and Budde advanced to a playoff and Davenport finished 3rd.
The playoff began on hole number 10, a short par four with water in front and the hole located on the front of the green on a significant slope. Nolen hit first and chose to play an iron to the fairway and count on a good wedge shot to make birdie. Unfortunately, he hit a poor shot to the right into the trees.
Budde, after witnessing Nolen’s shot, somewhat surprisingly chose to play a driver and go for the green. He proceeded to drive it left of the green deep into the woods.
Before playing his second shot from the right hand trees, Nolen went over to Budde’s ball and took a look at what he was facing. Nolen decided to play a safe shot and chip his ball into the fairway 90 yards short of the green rather than try a risky shot over water off of a poor lie in the rocks. He played his wedge shot to about 20 feet past the hole and faced a touchy downhill putt for par.
Budde then weaved his way through the underbrush to his ball and set up to play a shot through the branches of several bushes rather than take an unplayable lie.
He really had no choice as there was not a good place to drop the ball and would have had to go back to the tee. If you look a this photo, you can barely see Budde in the woods.
Budde played his shot and somewhat surprisingly the ball penetrated the branches easily and bounded over the green. Next he faced a difficult chip to a hole located on a significant slope at the front portion of the green. Because he was chipping across and downhill it was next to impossible to stop a ball close to the hole and he wisely chipped it past to leave a 15 foot uphill putt for par. Both players two putted for bogey and went back to the tee to play the hole again.
Nolen played first and hit another poor iron shot. This time it went left and hit a tree but bounced into the fairway some 120 yards from the green. Budde, apparently unfazed by his first effort with driver, selected driver again. This time he hit a perfect tee shot onto the green 20 feet below the hole. Nolen hit his approach 25 feet past the hole. Both players two putted and Budde won the playoff and the title.
Brian Noonan continued his steady scoring with another 69 to finish at eight under par, tied for 4th place.
Mathew Denton, who started the day at nine under par, two shots behind leader Stratton Nolen, posted a disappointing two over 73 and finished 6th. He will be playing golf at Westlake High school next year and will learn a lot from this experience.
Jonathan Alden had the low round of the day with 67 and finished tied for 7th with Jordan Sanders. Ben Carter shot 69 and posted his third sub-par round of the tournament to finish 9th.
Scores were significantly higher the last round because of the hole locations and the tees on the back of the tee boxes.
As you can see from the photo to the below, Muny is a special place with all kinds of wildlife. It is really kind of amazing to think this is in central Austin. For those who know and love the place, the photo represents the kind of balance some Austinites would like to preserve by keeping the golf course and green space rather than having more development, shops, and traffic in the area.
Below are the full field scores.l Click on a players name to see their scorecard. Use the back button to return to the story.
|1||Jake Budde (p)||-2||F||-11||66||67||69||202||$750.00|
|T9||Charles Neel White||E||F||-5||68||69||71||208||$400.00|
|T54||Christian De La Cruz||+7||F||+7||70||72||78||220||$0.00|
|MC||Gerry Diaz Sr||+13|
|MC||John Albert Mansour||+21|
Jake Budde birdied the final hole of regulation play to tie with Stratton Nolen at 11 under