Houston man edges Roper for HOT title

Mike Skinner, a Houston insurance executive, who has played at the Dr. Harry C. Priess Heart of Texas Memorial Day golf tournament “six or seven times” made his eighth visit a successful one. On a beautiful windless day, Skinner, 48, took a one-shot victory over four-time HOT champion, Brady’s Richard Roper, Sr., firing a two-under par 69. The last time the 2003 champion had played in the Brady tournament was in 1997 when Carl Crawley took the title. Roper was seeking his fifth Heart of Texas championship. He was victorious in 1990, 1993, 1999 and last year. Both golfers carded a 35, one-under par, on the first nine holes of the Brady Municipal Golf Course. Skinner took a two-shot lead with a birdie on No. 11 when Roper bogeyed the par 4 hole. Roper gained back a shot on the difficult No. 15 with a par 3 while Skinner took a bogey 4. Skinner held off Roper’s charge when they each parred No. 16 and both birdied the par 3 No. 17. They halved the long par 4 18th hole, both hitting the green in two and two-putting to finish the climactic match. Danny Neal of Brady was third place in the championship flight with a three-over 74 and San Saba’s David Potts was fourth with an 82. The field of 112 golfers from across the state and even as far as Florida filled seven flights, one less than normal. The reason for not completing eight flights was that Memorial Day came a week earlier than it usually does. The 112 golfers played match play for two days of the three-day affair that began Saturday morning. Monday’s round was divided into the four top players in the winner’s and consolation brackets, and it was medal play. In this quest of the championship, Skinner eliminated Erbey Valdez of San Angelo in the first round, and defeated Richard Roper Jr., of Stephenville, a former champion, in the second round. Roper Sr. won his first match by beating Mike Solis of Kingsland in the first round and Jimmie Fore of Valera in the second round. Alex Sedillo, of Kyle, a former Brady Bulldog star, won the championship flight consolation finals by matching Skinner’s fine score, two-under par 69. Taking second in the championship flight consolation was Jack Needham of Brady with a 74. Third went to Pete Ledezma of Mission with a 76. Valdez was fourth at 77. Former Bradyite Bill Gerron of Granbury shot a fine one-under 70 to cop the President’s Flight. He defeated Rick Lopez of Edinburg and Skip Priess of Fair Oaks Ranch en route to his title. Another former Bradyite, Jimmy Criswell of Coppell, who played on the state championship team in 1964 with Priess, Karlton Steffens and Charles Dicker, took second place in the President’s Flight with a 75. San Saba’s Rick Baskin was third at 76 and Wade Wallace of Austin was fourth with an 80. In the President’s Flight consolation bracket Brady’s Johnny Lewis edged Melvin’s Shane McCartney, 75 and 76, respectively. Lewis and his brother, Marion, missed the first day’s play due to the serious illness of their father, J.B. Lewis. After his improvement, they competed in Sunday and Monday’s action. Third place in the consolation flight went to Boyd Finch of Kerrville, 78, and Marty Woodul of San Angelo, fourth at 79. The First Flight championship was won by Del Rio’s Don Ellis, who won a sudden death playoff over Brady’s Mike Pellizzari on the 20th hole. Each had completed regulation play at 81. Nathan Herzer of Lamesa took third place in the bracket with an 83 while Butch Van Zandt of Austin was fourth at 84. In the First Flight consolation bracket, the winner was Terry Virdell of Brady. He carded an 80 for the five-stroke win over second place finisher, Ruben Aguirre of Brady, who had an 85. Ken Anderson of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Bo Rose of Monahans completed play tied at 86. There was no playoff. Rose, the son-in-law of Tootsie and Ila Mitchell of Rochelle and husband of their daughter, Mary, highlighted the tournament with a hole-in-one during play Sunday. He aced the 205-yard No. 12 hole using a four iron. “It hit about two feet in front of the hole and hopped in,” he said. Rose’s son, Rex, age 11, witnessed the shot. In the Second Flight Larry Smith of Brady sank a 15-foot putt on No. 18 to edge fellow Bradyite Raymond Ledezma by one stroke. Smith had a 76 and Ledezma a 77. Third place when to Matt Peirson of Plano, who shot 84, and Chris Morganstean of DeLeon was fourth at 87. Consolation in the Second Flight was won by Dallas’ Bill Roberts III. He defeated Brady’s Marcos Solis by two strokes, 81 to 83. Third place was won by former Brady Bulldog coach Paul Jette of Pleasanton with a 85. James Patterson of Carrollton took fourth with a 98. A late entry, Charlie Bush, of Brady, copped the Third Flight on Monday afternoon with an 85. Second was won by Brad Childs, also of Brady. Former Brady Bulldog fullback Billy Ross Cavin of San Angelo was third at 89, and another former Brady man, Steve Mosley of Athens was fourth at 93. James Barnhill of Snyder, a former Brady man, was first in the consolation bracket with an 86. Second went to Johnny McBee with an 89 while Jim Gay of Irving took third at 91, and Tyler’s Chad Akin was fourth with a 97. The Fourth Flight championship bracket was won by Brady city councilman Billy Patterson, who fired an 83 to defeat runner-up Mike (Swede) Carlson, of Brady, who shot 88. Third place ended in a tie between John McNelly and James Stewart, both of Brady, at 91. In the Fourth Flight consolation bracket championship, Richie Journeay of Odessa took first place with an 84, and second place went to Benton Franklin of Brady with a 94. Jay Williamson of New Braunfels was third at 94 and Marion Lewis, who had to forfeit his opening match, was fourth with an even 100. Johnny Poe of Brady emerged as champion of the Fifth Flight with a final round of 92. Second place was a three-way tie by Tommy Feller of Kerrville, Biff Winsor of Dallas and Dale Harris of Brady. All finished at 95. In the Fifth Flight consolation bracket, first place went to Bill Kooch of Mason, who shot 92. Joe Millsap of Brady and Russell Willis of Brady tied for second at 95. F.C. Davies of Bastrop took fourth with a 106. At the cocktail and buffet Friday night the Heart of Texas Golf Association feted longtime favorite and big tournament booster Bill Roberts, Jr., of Brady with a “Mr.Memorial Day” drawing, fashioned by Brady’s Craig Steffens. The plaque, with a likeness of Roberts, decked out in yellow knickers and a big cigar, saluted the honoree for his involvement of the 45-year old tournament and his encouragement of the many friends who regularly attend the event. Roberts, a native of Brady, and his wife, Rowena, returned to his hometown about 20 years ago. He is active in civic and church organizations.

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