Matt Cowan, the superintendent at the Hills Course at The Hills of Lakeway in Austin, Texas, is the winner of the 2018 GCSAA National Championship, his second tournament title. Photo by Montana Pritchard
On a layout he used to tend to as an assistant superintendent, Matt Cowan reaffirmed his status as the true king of Texas, at least when it comes to the GCSAA National Championship.
The superintendent of the Hills Course at The Hills of Lakeway in Austin, Texas, built a commanding lead and then survived a rocky closing stretch to capture his second GCSAA title Monday on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. His previous championship came in 2015, the last time the event was played in the Alamo City.
Cowan carded a two-day total of 2-over-par 146 to outduel two other past champions to earn the 2018 crown. Defending champion Michael Stieler, CGCS, from Spring Creek Golf and Country Club in Ripon, Calif. — also a two-time winner of the event — and three-time champion Seth Strickland from Miami (Fla.) Shores Country Club both finished at 3-over-par 147.
The final three holes of the tournament featured plenty of twists and turns. Cowan led Strickland by a single shot when they came to the par-3 16th hole, but was in front by three shots when they left. Cowan bogeyed the hole, but Strickland was saddled with a triple-bogey 6 after flubbing a chip shot from the right front of the green.
That lead would last exactly one hole. After Strickland birdied the par-4 17th and Cowan four-putted for a double bogey, the pair were tied going to the final hole, a par 5. Each player laid up on the hole and faced tricky chip shots for birdie, but it was Cowan who pulled off the feat the best, almost holing out for birdie before settling for a par, while another poor chip shot by Strickland doomed him to a bogey on the hole. Stieler birdied 18 to pull into that tie with Strickland.
Cowan’s win helped pace the Lone Star GCSA No. 1 team to the Gross Division title in the Chapter Team Competition. He was joined on that team by Shawn Westacott, Tanner Chrastecky and Jason Barrington. The Net Division crown went to the Midwest Association of GCS No. 3 team, made up of Steven Van Acker, Tommy Witt, Donald Cross and Robert Lively.
The GCSAA Golf Championships — presented in partnership with The Toro Co. for the 24th consecutive year — attracted 460 players who competed in a host of events contested over three days on five San Antonio courses: the Oaks and Canyon courses at TPC San Antonio, Cordillera Ranch Golf Club, The Quarry Golf Club and the Resort Course at La Cantera. View the full list of results from all GCSAA Golf Championships competitions.
Scott Hollister is GCM’s editor-in-chief.