The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 15, 2012

Lais completes wire-to-wire Ozark Amateur win

JOPLIN, Mo. — Barrett Lais’ first shot on Sunday went out of bounds.

But he recovered quite nicely to make par-5 on the opening hole, then proceeded to birdie four of the next seven holes en route to a wire-to-wire victory in the Ozark Amateur at Schifferdecker Municipal Golf Course.

Lais, a 2003 Joplin High School graduate and now the assistant golf coach at the University of Arkansas, followed his opening-round 65 with a closing 67 for a 10-under-par 132 total to become the tournament’s third consecutive multiple winner, following Brian Black in 2010 and Paul Ashe last year. Lais’ first Ozark crown came in 2005, shooting 64-65—129.

Mike Maier, the 2004 Ozark winner, shot 66 and climbed into second place at 134, one shot in front of his son Andrew, the 2007 Ozark champion who closed with a 65.

Mark Riley (67) and Kyler Brown tied for fourth at 136, and reigning Joplin Globe city champion Evan Wood and four-time Ozark winner Lou Rapalino shared sixth at 138 after final-round 71s.

Two former champions finished atop the next two flights. Mickey Carpenter, who won this event 10 years ago, took A Flight with 65-137, and Lee Larimore, who won three times in the 1990s, won B Flight with 68-143.

Also winning flights were Kelly Abbott in C Flight with 74-153, James Robertson in D Flight with 73-154 and Tom Hosp in E Flight with 77-164.

The 497-yard, dogleg-left par-5 first hole is one of the easiest holes on the course, and top-caliber players aren’t often happy with a par. But that 5 for Lais was one of his key holes of the day.

“I was trying to cut the corner, I took off to much and I pulled it a little bit out of bounds,” he said. “I hit the second one pretty hard and had a 9-iron in and made about an eight-footer for par. That actually kind of jump-started my round and got things going.”

Lais birdied the even-numbered holes during a front-nine 32, hitting a pitching wedge within 15 feet on No. 2, an 8-iron to six feet on 4, a wedge to three feet on 6 and another wedge to 20 feet on 8.

His lone bogey came on the par-4 10th hole after his drive stopped near the chain-link fence to the right of the fairway. His approach was short of a greenside bunker, and he failed to get up and down for par.

“I got away with a few loose drives,” Lais said. “I didn’t drive the ball very good today at all, but I hit my irons, and the wedge was great.”

Lais suffered a bad break on 11 when his approach hit the flagstick but the ball bounced back about 25 feet and he made par.

“It was a perfect yardage — 75, I love that yardage,” he said. “I hit a great shot, I just hit the stick.”

Lais then flirted with an ace on the 164-yard 12th hole and made birdie to get back to 10-under, and he made two-putt pars the rest of the way.

“I think that (teeshot on 12) actually lipped out,” he said. “It had a good chance to go in. It went past the hole and sucked back. That was a pretty big shot to get things going after making bogey on 10 and getting the bad break on 11. That got things to stable out.

“I thought today was a little more difficult. The wind blew a lot harder this afternoon than it did (Saturday) morning.”

Mike Maier, three shots back after one round, missed a short birdie putt on the first hole, then bogeyed No. 2 after hitting his approach shot in the bunker. But his turnaround began with a short birdie on 3, then he birdied two par-3s — a 12-footer on 4 and a chip-in from the bottom of the hill on 9 when he couldn’t see the pin.

“I played the par-3s in 5-under this weekend,” he said. “That’s a miracle for me.”

Birdies on 10, 14 and 15 pulled Maier within two shots of the lead, then he made 3-4 footers for par on the final three holes.

“I haven’t played much. I was pretty happy with the way I played,” said Maier, who turns 57 next week. “To beat my son, I beat him by a shot. I’m proud of the way he played, too.”

After 19 players broke par in Saturday’s first round, only 10 shot 70 or better on Sunday, led by Josh Greer’s 64 and the 65s by Carpenter and Andrew Maier.

Greer, whose 64 was one shot off the tournament record and a 10-stroke improvement over his first round, shot 32-32 with five birdies on the front nine, four on the back and bogeys on 4 and 10. He finished second in A Flight with 138.

Andrew Maier carded eight birdies and two bogeys on par-3s (4 and 12), and Carpenter had seven birdies and a bogey on 4.

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