By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Barrett Lais planned to Joplin this weekend for the wedding of his high school buddy Tyler Dill.
So while he was in town, he figured he might as well play golf.
“It gave me a good excuse to get up here and play,” Lais said, smiling. “I travel a lot with my job (as assistant golf coach at Arkansas), and when I’m home I like to spend it with my family. But we were going to be up here this weekend anyway, so I talked my wife (Jessica) into letting me play.”
Returning to the course where he grew up, Lais matched par-72 on Sunday afternoon and completed a wire-to-wire victory in the 61st Twin Hills Invitational.
Overcoming an early double bogey, Lais finished at 4-under-par 212 and registered a five-shot victory.
“It was a fun weekend,” Lais said. “I grew up here. Doug (Adams, Twin Hills professional) got me started in golf. There were some iffy conditions, but the course was in good shape. And I played solid golf.
“I got to see a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a long time. This is home to me, Twin Hills. It brings back a lot of memories. I’ve played so much golf here. The only thing that has changed is the trees definitely have gotten a lot bigger.”
Tim Wagaman of Springfield, former golfer at Evangel, also shot 72 and finished second at 217, securing that spot with birdies on the 16th and 17th hole.
Twin Hills members Evan Wood and Kyle Long were next at 220 and 221, respectively. Wood closed with a 75 and finished third in the tournament for the second straight year. Long, the two-time defending champion and four-time winner, shot 74.
Todd Doss, who works for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, was fifth with 74-222, and Andrew Maier of Webb City shot 75-223 to continue his strong golf this summer. Earlier he was fourth in the Joplin Globe City Championship, tied for fourth at the Briarbrook Invitational and second in the Ozark Amateur, losing on the first playoff hole.
Also winning first-place honors in their flights were Andy Pochik in President’s Flight with 77-234, Rusty Smith in First Flight with 72-234 and Brian Russell in Second Flight with 88-261.
Mike Cutshall captured the Senior Division (ages 50-over) championship with 75-218, finishing seven strokes in front of Bob McKay, who had a final-round 77.
Other Senior winners were Larry Hrdlicka in President’s Flight with 79-239, Chris Newby in First Flight with 72-240 and Brent Finley in Second Flight with 92-272.
Lais got a close-up look at those bigger trees as he did not hit a single fairway off the tee all day.
“I was in the woods a lot,” he said with a laugh. “It was just a grind. I took advantage of my wedges and didn’t three-putt. I didn’t give any (shots) back.
“I just played smart. I took what the course gave me. If I had to chip out sideways, I chipped out sideways. I got up and down a couple of times with wedges and was able to keep the round going.”
On the par-5 15th hole, Lais had to chip sideways out of the trees. From almost 200 yards out, Lais hit a 5-iron 25 feet from the pin and made the putt for birdie.
Lais’ five-stroke lead after two rounds was cut to two after he double-bogeyed the par-4 third hole and Wood birdied the par-5 sixth hole. But the lead jumped back to six shots during the next three holes as Wood bogeyed No. 7 and double-bogeyed No. 9. Lais birdied 9, hitting an 8-iron within a foot.
“I thought (Lais) made (his second shot) when he hit it,” Wood said. “It looked good all the way. I tried to play safe and should not have. I talked myself into taking 3-wood off the tee so I wouldn’t hit it in the bunker, and I pulled it left out of bounds.”
Lais also birdied No. 12 after hitting his 60-yard approach within two feet, but he bogeyed the next hole, missing a 10-foot par putt.
Wagaman, who tied for 10th last year in his first Twin Hills Invitational, played steady with two bogeys on the front nine and his two late birdies.
“I played very consistent,” he said. “I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, and that’s how I kept up with those guys. I hit the ball really well ... no three putts. I had to have a lot of patience until my first birdie on 16 and then another one on 17. It was too late of a run to try to catch Barrett, but I played pretty good in this kind of weather. So I’m happy.”