Yoakum nabs Sunflower Hills club championship
Longtime tournament participant has best round ever in victory
Jim Yoakum won his first Sunflower Hills Club Championship on July 16 with a finish he won’t soon forget.
“I chipped in for birdie from about 10 feet off the green on No. 14 and then one-putted the final four holes,” Yoakum said. “The putter on the back nine was ridiculous, 11 putts on nine holes including three putts on No. 13.”
The last one was the most memorable.
“I was even on 18 and knew I was close (to having the lead),” he said. “As hot as it was and as tough as the pin placement, I figured anything under par would win.”
However, Yoakum’s second shot on 18 hit a tree and bounced into the 10th fairway, and his third hit another tree. Still 100 yards out and in the rough, Yoakum hit a wedge to within 10 feet and made the putt for bogey.
“A good bogey,” laughed Yoakum, whose one-over par 73 left him one shot in front of reigning Wyandotte County Open champion Reece Nigh and Brad Ansley, a former WyCo champion.
A 44-year-old Kansas City, Kan., attorney and a longtime entrant in both the club championship and WyCo Open, Yoakum’s 73 was the best competitive round of his career.
“It was not like I came out here expecting to win,” Yoakum said.
It was also a big weekend for Yoakum. Playing for Sunflower Hills in the Kansas City Cup matches, he got his first win in five matches in a 5½-3½ win over Longview Lake’s Fred Arbanas course that kept Sunflower Hills’ record perfect at 5-0.
Both wins came in searing weather that sent the heat index well over 100 degrees.
“The heat was the biggest problem,” Yoakum said. “The hardest part was staying dry. If your hands get wet, it’s hard to grip the club. I went through three gloves.”
A Bishop Ward grad who attended Kansas City Kansas Community College before earning his undergraduate degree from Kansas State, Yoakum birdied Nos. 2 and 5 and was one under par until bogeys at No. 8 and 13 but the chip in birdie on No. 14 got him back to even.
Reece Nigh also had a big finish. After bogeys on the final three holes on the front nine, he played the back nine in one-under, just missing eagle on No. 11 and making a 16-footer for birdie on the tough 15th.
“I hit a lot of good shots but missed five or six putts of 8 or 10 feet including three-putting from seven feet on No. 7,” Nigh said.
The tourney set up what should be a dandy 35th annual WyCo Open Aug. 13-14. Nigh will be defending his championship and unless work takes him out of town, Yoakum plans to play.
Entries are now being accepted at Sunflower Hills (913-721-2727). The cost is $90 and includes an 18-hole practice round and two rounds of flight play.