Lonoke’s Stafford Gray didn’t consider that the green golf shirt he wore for Sunday’s final round of the 44th Maumelle Classic might clash with the champion’s green jacket.
But it didn’t matter after Gray, 32, nailed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 54th hole to win at Maumelle Country Club.
Gray, who fired a five-under-par 67 to lead after the first round, held off Benton’s Austin Harmon, whose birdie on No. 15 Sunday, coupled with Gray’s only bogey of the day on No. 16, tied the match heading into the final two holes. Harmon finished with pars; Gray hit his approach to within striking distance on the final green.
“I burned so many edges today,” he said. “I hit so many putts that didn’t go in. I hit the ball really good and putted OK. I just didn’t make much.”
The win was his second on the Arkansas State Golf Association’s designated circuit. The Texas native and former Oklahoma City University golfer and coach said he won the Fourth of July Classic in 2013 after moving to his wife Megan’s home state.
“This is right up there,” he said of his latest accomplishment. “I look forward to keeping the trophy for a year.”
Gray finished at 67-70-69—206, 10 under par, one stroke off the tournament record, set by Danny Green, a three-time champion, in 1998. Harmon finished second at 70-70-67—207. Ryan Spurlock of Maumelle, the local favorite, was third at 70-68-73—211.
“Getting off to a hot start and shooting 67 was really good,” Gray said. “I battled (in Saturday’s second round). I made a couple of bogeys in a row on the back to go to even (Nos. 12 and 13), but I followed those with a birdie on 14 and 16 to right the ship coming in and keep the lead.
Heading into the final round, Gray led Spurlock by a stroke and Harmon by three. After making birdie on the first hole to tie Gray, Spurlock fell back with a triple-bogey seven on No. 3 after hitting out of bounds. Another bogey on No. 5 put him five behind Gray, who birdied Nos. 2 and 9 to turn at 34.
Harmon bogeyed the first but birdied four straight (Nos. 3-6). A bogey on No. 7 kept him three strokes behind Gray at the turn.
Spurlock rallied with birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 12, but he lost that advantage and fell out of contention after making bogey on Nos. 15, 16 and 17. His birdie on No. 18 gave him third-place alone.
Harmon hit another hot streak on the back with birdies at Nos. 12, 13 and 15. Gray’s three-putt bogey on the next hole drew the match even, setting up Gray’s winning birdie putt on No. 18.
Maumelle was just Gray’s second ASGA event of the summer. He tied for runner-up in the Arkansas State Amateur two weeks ago. He will play this weekend in the Sherwood Men’s Amateur Championship at The Greens at North Hills.
“I’ll see if I can have a home-course advantage,” he said.
Mark Graham won the Classic’s mid-senior division by eight strokes, carding 72-69-69—210 to Tracy Harris’ 68-79-71—218.
David Apperson, who won the open division in 1994, won the 2017 senior division by a stroke over Bev Hargraves. Apperson shot 69-69-74—212 to Hargraves’ 70-71-72—213.
A.J. Krueger, who won the inaugural Maumelle Classic in 1973, took the super-senior division by five strokes. He fired 73-70-69—212, ahead of Joe Bushee (74-69-74—217).
Cary Maddox, Maumelle CC’s pro, said he was pleased with the tournament, presented again by Metro Appliances & More.
“Good weather and a birdie on the last hole make for a good one,” he said. “Every year we’re making improvements, whether it be with social media, the website or all the volunteers and sponsors, who have always been great.”
He praised the cadre of volunteers, estimated to be at least 75.
“They don’t all work all day every day, but between volunteering on the grounds crew, helping with ice and water, the scoring tent — it was great.”