It has been two years since Winston Sizemore last won a golf tournament, and that was as a senior for St. Joseph Catholic School.
Sizemore was part of the first group to tee off at the Southern Amateur Qualifier on Thursday at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock. After shooting a 2-under 70, Sizemore was forced to wait almost three hours to see if he would claim his first tournament since high school.
While it was nerve-racking, the wait was well worth it for the junior-to-be at Henderson State University. Not only did his score of 70 win the qualifier, it was the only score to be under par for the day.
“It feels great and I was almost in tears. It’s a once in a lifetime feeling,” Sizemore said. “It’s a real humbling experience … and it gives you confidence in myself to be the best player in the field with a lot of Division I and Division II golfers.”
Sizemore’s best finish last year for the Reddies was eighth place at the Bison Fall Classic. He ended his sophomore season with a 79.55 scoring average having played nine rounds.
The win at the Southern Amateur Qualifier automatically enters him in the 106th Southern Amateur Championship at Chenal Country Club on July 18-21.
Sizemore did not need to win Thursday’s tournament in order to qualify for the Championship. He just needed to finish in the top 11.
“I wasn’t even trying to win it,” Sizemore said. “I caught wind that there were 11 spots, and I was just trying to play smart, safe golf. A lot of holes I stood up and though even a bogey would be good.”
Not only did Sizemore win the tournament, he won it by two strokes as well.
Sizemore even thought a 3-over 75 would have a chance at qualifying for the championship. So he felt pretty confident he would at least qualify when he turned in his score of 70.
“I was 100 percent sure that would qualify,” he said. “I was even par going into 16 and I told myself, even if I bogey out that there was a good chance I would get in.”
Sizemore did better than just shoot par on the last three holes. He birdied two of the last three holes, which was pretty similar with how the rest of the back-nine went for Sizemore.
After shooting 2-over on the front nine, Sizemore made four birdies and pared the other five holes to shoot 2-under for the full 18.
Sizemore said he shot well on the back nine despite missing more than a few fairways.
“I was fortunate on the back nine because my putter got hot and it was a big reason I came away with a two-under,” he said. “I hit my driver fairly well, but I missed a lot of fairways. My iron play was huge and I got the ball within a 20-foot circle of the hole most of the time.”
Despite the low score, Sizemore was part of the first group that finished for the day, so he had to watch everyone else’s scores come in. He knew a number of players at the tournament from high school and college, and they helped him feel more at ease as he waited.
“At least one person in each group came up and congratulated me when they were done,” he said. “It relieved the stress in a way. Any tournament you go to, there is always the last group that has a low number.
“When the last group came up and I could hear what they shot and I was the only person under par, I was very excited.”