By Steve Hill – Rattling Chains staff
After an up-and-down performance that still found him on the lead card for the final round of the Memorial Championship, it was anyone’s guess how Ricky Wysocki would perform at the Texas State Championships.
Wysocki, though, left no doubt.
On a course littered with trees, brush, and cacti, Wysocki shot the hot rounds Friday and Saturday en route to a 10-stroke victory in this weekend’s Texas State Championships in Manor, Texas. Even as Paul McBeth tried to play catch-up on Sunday, Wysocki didn’t let up, using a deft mix of backhand drives and forehand escape shots to capture the $1,660 purse.
Wysocki finished the three-day tournament with a 33-under-par 186.
McBeth placed second with a 23-under 196, taking home $1,270 in the process. Nikko Locastro’s 16-under 203 earned him $975 for his third-place finish. David Hemmeline and Ron Convers tied for fourth by shooting a 15-under 204. They each earned $730.
Without question, though, the tournament belonged to Wysocki. Even if he wouldn’t admit it himself.
After starting off by shooting an eight-under-par 65 on Friday, Wysocki said he felt like he could have played better.
“I knew after the first round I was ahead, and I didn’t feel like I played that well,” he said. “It was windy, so when it’s windy you can shoot pretty well and not know it. That’s how I felt the first day, I didn’t play super solid, but I played all right.”
As it turns out, he had a better round in him Saturday, shooting a 14-under-par 59 to give him a 12-stroke lead over McBeth leading into Sunday’s final round.
Wysocki attributed his success those first two days to his ability to play the wind to his favor.
“With the wind and everything, you can’t get in trouble too much because it’s hard to get out of trouble,” he said. “If you got in trouble, it was almost conceding a bogey on the hole because there’s no way to make it back up with all the wind. I just managed to deal with it, I think, a lot better than most players.”
But, with McBeth showing his abilities as a comeback kid on the final day of the Memorial, Wysocki was surely worried about a similar effort knocking him from the top spot, right?
Not so much.
“I was comfortable, but I still wanted to play a good round,” he said. “I’m always playing to beat everybody, but I knew that I was still playing to maintain the lead. I was going to try and play a solid round, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice any strokes to try and make an aggressive play or something.
“I wasn’t worried about what (McBeth) was doing, I just wanted to worry about what I was doing,” he continued. “I knew as long as I played a good, solid round, I knew he wasn’t going to catch me.”
Wysocki said a lot of his success this weekend came with the preparation he put in at the East Metro Park course prior to the tournament, as well as to his ability to use either his forehand or backhand depending on the situation.
He also mentioned his ability to use either his forehand or backhand in any situation as an advantage over the field.
“Definitely in the wind — it depends on which way the wind is going — I’ll throw either backhand or sidearm, so that definitely helped me big time,” he said. “If there was a certain wind I would throw sidearm, which some people weren’t able to.
“I feel confident either way, it just depends on the shot,” he continued. “It doesn’t depend on my confidence.”
Wysocki said he plans to lay low in Texas and play a B-Tier event this weekend, then play the Glass Blown Open in Kansas to get ready for the next National Tour event in Santa Cruz, California at the end of April.
With that tournament taking place at another wooded course – the famed DeLaveaga Park – Wysocki said his success in Texas will give him the confidence he can place well at DeLaveaga.
But, he will have to start strong, like he did this weekend.
“You know, usually when I get off to a good start at big tournaments I seem to do well,” he said. “So as long as I can get off to the first round, I’m going to transfer this momentum into the next tournament and the next NT.”
Hokom pulls away for women’s crown
Sarah Hokom parlayed a one-stroke lead Saturday into a runaway nine-stroke victory with strong play down the stretch Sunday. Hokom’s 12-over-par 231 earned her $845.
Catrina Ulibarri ($590) placed second with a 21-over 240, followed by Paige Pierce’s 27-over 246. Pierce earned $395. Texas locals Des Reading ($305) and Liz Lopez-Dorries ($245) rounded out the top five, finishing with a 33-over 252 and 37-over 256, respectively.
Hokom didn’t lead from beginning to end, though. Ulibarri held a two-stroke lead after the first round, following a 78. Hokom’s 79 seized the lead as Ulibarri shot an 82. The margin could have been bigger, but Hokom finished the round with a triple-bogey on the 21st and final hole.
Hokom was consistent Sunday and Ulibarri was hampered by three double-bogeys.
Steve Hill is the associate editor for Rattling Chains. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.