Golf

KU’s Andy Spencer wins Watson Challenge over ex-Jayhawks teammate and childhood mentor

Early in his golf career, Andy Spencer spent afternoons after elementary school at Milburn Country Club perfecting his swing with then-head pro, Sean Dougherty.

On Sunday at Milburn, the student topped the teacher as Spencer earned a 7-stroke victory in the 2017 Watson Challenge, topping third-place finisher Dougherty and former Kansas teammate and Shawnee Mission East grad Chase Hanna.

“I generally don’t have a lot of fun watching somebody beat me,” said Dougherty, who shot a 2-under 214 over the three-day tournament. “But that was fun. Andy’s golf game is unbelievable.”

It was a unique moment for Spencer, who caught fire Sunday finishing with a 12-under 204 to become the second amateur to win the Watson Challenge.

“We all wanted to beat each other, but in the end we’re all really close friends,” Spencer said. “I knew whoever came out on top, I was going to be happy with it.”

Legendary Kansas City golfer Tom Watson shot a 3-under 69 Sunday, but finished the challenge tied for 13th at 6-over 222. Despite his performance, Watson was happy to witness a pair of young golfers finish among the top three.

“When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to compete against the older players in Kansas City. That’s what these kids are doing right now and they’re doing a great job of it,” said Watson, who has won 39 PGA Tour events, 14 PGA Tour Champion events and the Watson Challenge five times. “From a personal standpoint, I didn’t play very well. But the golf course was a great challenge, it was in great condition. It was fair, yet, tough.”

Hanna finished Friday with a 1-shot lead, but Spencer flipped the script entering the third and final round with a 3-shot lead over Hanna. Spencer maintained his distance from Hanna and Dougherty finishing strong with a couple birdies on the back-9.

“When I got in trouble, I just played in the middle of the green because I knew I had a sizable lead and I was able to come down the stretch unscathed.” Spencer said. “It was a great experience being able to play the Watson Challenge on my home course.”

Spencer, 19, is entering his sophomore year at KU, while Hanna just graduated this spring. Spencer said Hanna — who finished second with a 5-under 211 — was the teammate he looked up to the most in college. Hanna joked there was some trash-talking on the course during the final round.

“Not too much, though,” Hanna said. “He let his golf game do the trash talking.”

Added Hanna: “He’s going to have a great three years at KU. Hopefully both of us accomplish some great things.”

Watson echoed Hanna’s sentiments during the trophy presentation.

“The whole idea of the event was to create a premier event in Kansas City that everybody wanted to play in,” Watson said. “As a result, there’s more competitive golf being played in Kansas City now then there was 10 years ago. These kids have very bright futures ahead of them.”

Doug Habel, the executive director of the Kansas City Golf Association, said Sunday’s crowd turnout at Milburn was the largest he’s ever seen in the Watson Challenge’s 11-year history.

Dougherty was awarded a $10,000 payout as the top pro.

Leader board

Note: a-amateur, p-professional

Place, golfer

Par

R1-2-3

Total

1. Andy Spencer (a)

-12

70-67-67

204

2. Chase Hanna (a)

-5

69-71-71

211

3. Sean Dougherty (p)

-2

72-71-71

214

4. Curtis Yonke (p)

E

71-75-70

216

5. Alex Springer (a)

+2

76-71-71

218

T6. Harry Higgs (p)

+3

71-75-73

219

T6. Alex Higgs (p)

+3

73-73-73

219

T6. Clay Devers (p)

+3

74-72-73

219

T6. Tyler Dunn (p)

+3

72-71-76

219

T10. Rob Wilkin (p)

+4

72-74-74

220

T10. Steve Groom (a)

+4

70-75-75

220

12. Ryan Zech (p)

+5

73-71-77

221

T13. Tom Watson (p)

+6

76-77-69

222

T13. Josh Weems (p)

+6

77-75-70

222

T13. Aaron Watkins (p)

+6

76-74-72

222

T16. Bryan Norton (a)

+7

74-76-73

223

T16. Travis Mays (a)

+7

73-74-76

223

18. Ryne Fisher (a)

+9

76-73-76

225

T19. Chris Mabry (p)

+10

70-79-77

226

T19. Matt Green (p)

+10

74-75-77

226

T21. Joe Winslow (p)

+11

77-77-73

227

T21. Preston Fleenor (a)

+11

78-77-72

227

T21. Joe Ida (a)

+11

77-76-74

227

T21. Blake Allen (a)

+11

76-75-76

227

T21. Ryan Bender (a)

+11

77-73-77

227

T21. Alex Forristal (p)

+11

74-74-79

227

T21. Jeff Sedorcek (p)

+11

76-73-78

227

28. Mark Terranova (a)

+16

75-80-77

232

T29. Nate Sargent (p)

+17

80-78-75

233

T29. Jeff Bell (a)

+17

75-81-77

233

T29. Christian Ghilardi

+17

74-81-78

233

T32. Evan Scobie (p)

+18

81-77-76

234

T32. Luke Smith (p)

+18

78-75-81

234

T32. John Richman (p)

+18

78-74-82

234

T32. Matt Murdoch (p)

+18

79-73-82

234

36. Chris Piedimonte (p)

+20

83-77-76

236

T37. Matt Kelley (a)

+21

77-79-81

237

T37. Mark Addington (a)

+21

79-77-81

237

T37. Nick Burkart (p)

+21

80-76-81

237

T40. Colton Allen (a)

+22

83-76-79

238

T40. Jeff Sheppard (p)

+22

77-78-83

238

T42. Ben Perry (p)

+23

82-82-75

239

T42. Mike Tanner (p)

+23

80-81-78

239

44. Zac Gavlak (p)

+24

77-77-85

240

45. Chris Bussell (p)

+27

84-80-79

243

46. Justin Wingerter (a)

+31

82-82-83

247

47. Zane Burgess (p)

+32

83-80-85

248

48. Vern Bennett (a)

+36

81-86-85

252

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