It’s no secret that Lions Municipal Golf Course may not be around much longer. The elephant in the room is that the course’s home tournament, the Firecracker Open, which has been around since 1946 and is one of the premier amateur golf tournaments in Central Texas, could be played at “Muny” next weekend for the final time.
That made qualifying for this year’s tournament that much more meaningful. Wes Hansen, whose father worked as an assistant pro at Lions back in the day, knew how important it was for him to make it into the Firecracker’s field next weekend.
But Hansen struggled to a 7-over 78 on Saturday at the second qualifier at Lions, missing out on the cut by four shots.
“I really wanted to qualify. One of the things that’s kind of, I guess, where you feel the pressure is you really want to play in this tournament because it means a lot to Austin, and Muny may not be around next year,” said Hansen, a 35-year-old realtor. “So part of it is kind of sentimental for me and I’m sure a lot of people in regards to wanting to participate in this event.”
Hansen had a steady round going through 11 holes. He birdied the par-4 11th to get back to even par on the day. From then on it was a grind just to get back to the clubhouse. He double bogeyed the par-5 12th to fall to 2 over. After consecutive pars at the 13th and 14th, Hansen played his last four holes in 5 over.
The most costly moment for Hansen came at the tough par-4 16th when his third shot came to rest right behind a big rock left of the green. Hansen and his playing partners attempted to move the rock, but they were unsuccessful in doing so. He was forced to take an unplayable penalty, and he walked off the green with a triple bogey on the card.
“After that poor break, it was just tough to overcome,” Hansen said.
Hansen admitted after the round on Saturday that he felt “distracted” by the pressure of qualifying for this event. That, combined with his recent high level of play, made qualifying even more paramount for him. Hansen tied for third earlier this month at the Mid-Am Match Play at Jimmy Clay Golf Course, and he said he felt good about his form heading into Saturday.
Although Hansen won’t be at next weekend’s Firecracker, his playing partners on Saturday, Kody King and Jake Ezell, will be. King fired an even-par 71 to finish in a tie for ninth, while Ezell grinded his way to a 2-over 73.
Ezell, an alumnus of Lake Travis High School and Charleston Southern University, did not have his A-game for most of the day. He bogeyed three of his first four holes and was fighting his swing during the round. Ezell said afterward that he’s made some swing changes recently and is still trying to get comfortable with them on the course.
“It was a struggle,” Ezell said. “I don’t think I felt comfortable over a single golf shot. (I was) just trying to get it into the house.”
Tyler Ware finished Saturday’s qualifier as the leader after firing a 5-under 66. Jeff Wilson finished second and one shot back after a 4-under 67. For the full results from the second qualifier for the 2018 Firecracker Open, click here: leaderboard.htm
The 2018 Firecracker Open will be June 30-July 2 at Lions Municipal Golf Course.