Cowan grabs first-round lead at GCSAA National Championship

Texas superintendent and 2015 champion will take one-shot lead into Monday’s final round.


GCSAA National Championship
Cordillera Ranch in Boerne, Texas, played host to the first round of the 2018 GCSAA National Championships on Sunday. Photo by Montana Pritchard

The home-field advantage continues to pay dividends for Matt Cowan.

The winner of the GCSAA National Championship the last time the competition was contested in the state of Texas in 2015, Cowan finds himself halfway to his second title following the first round of the 2018 event — presented in partnership with The Toro Co. for the 24th consecutive year — played Sunday at Cordillera Ranch in Boerne, Texas.

On a beautiful day in South Texas — with clear skies and temperatures in the low 80s — the superintendent of the Hills Course at The Hills of Lakeway in Austin, Texas, fired a 2-under-par score of 70, which gave him a one-shot lead over both David Noto from Mossy Creek Golf Club in Cleveland, Ga., and three-time champion Seth Strickland from Miami (Fla.) Shores Country Club.

Cowan’s title in 2015 was a one-round affair after winter weather forced the cancellation of the final round of the tournament. And just like he did three years ago, Cowan turned in a stellar round at Cordillera Ranch, with four birdies on his scorecard.

A trio of past tournament champions are lurking just a few shots behind Cowan. Defending champion Michael Stieler, CGCS, from Spring Creek Golf and Country Club in Ripon, Calif., is three shots back after shooting a 1-over-par 73. Alan Pondel, CGCS, from Crystal Woods Golf Course in Crystal Lake, Ill., who won his title in 1998, and Shawn Westacott from Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas, the champion in 2016, are both four shots off the pace after the first round.

To follow the second-round action in not only the GCSAA National Championship but all the tournament’s flights, check out the GCSAA Golf Championships on Golf Genius.

Scott Hollister is GCM’s editor-in-chief.