During Friday’s modified shootout at the Harbor Oaks Golf Course, Star City native Cameron McKenzie leaned over and said, “If we can finish in second place, I will be happy.”
McKenzie and his teammate Aaron Bucher of Benton did just that — finishing in second place in their group behind winners Chris Dixon and Cameron Hurst.
“In a shootout like this, we are just trying to beat the better guys,” Bucher, 39, said.
McKenzie, also 39, jokingly added, “I don’t know why you keep talking to us, you need to go over there (pointing to Hurst and Dixon) and talk to the winners.
“We are just the fun team who makes a lot of noise,” McKenzie said.
Friday’s shootout consisted of 40 teams placed into four groups, with 10 teams in each group. One team was eliminated each hole until just two teams remained on the ninth hole.
On each hole, both players would tee off and then use whoever shot was better. From there, the two alternate hits. For example, if Bucher’s tee shot had a better lie, then they would use it instead of McKenzie’s. From there, McKenzie would hit and so on.
“I’m a little better with my irons (than he is),” McKenzie said. “So ideally, I need to get us to the green and (Bucher) will putt.
“Unless he screws up like he did on that par 5!” Bucher interjected.
On hole No. 4, Bucher saved the duo with an excellent chip that rolled toward the hole for a gimme-par.
“I was a little nervous,” Bucher said after his chip.
McKenzie’s drive landed the team on a hill above the hole. Bucher was able to chip it and get within inches of the hole. The gimme-par allowed the two to move on.
“We needed that,” McKenzie said.
The two have been competing in this weekend’s Harbor Oaks tournament for four years now. McKenzie is a member at the club and Bucher makes the drive down from Benton to play.
Two others that found some early success in Friday’s shootout were Dustin Kellar of Hot Springs and White Hall’s Cameron Walley. The duo parred each of the first four holes.
“It feels good,” Kellar said after the third hole. “You have to make par to stay alive.”
Kellar, 26, and Walley, 25, played together in high school at Lake Hamilton.
“But I’ve also played (at Harbor Oaks) quite a bit,” Walley said. “This my home course.”
The pressure of trying to tee off or putt in front of the other competitors did not bother the young team, who won a four-ball tournament at Glenwood Country Club in Hot Springs in the past.
“We are kind of used to it,” Kellar said. “That is the fun part of it — the pressure and competition.”
The tournament continues today with stroke-play competition beginning at 10 a.m. and concluding on Sunday. Teams of two play each hole all the way through from tee to green and the best individual score is taken.
1st — Chris Dixon and Cameron Hurst
2nd — Cameron McKenzie and Aaron Bucher
1st — Adam Williams and Victor Villano
2nd — Leslie Gilstrap and Brandon Gilstrap
1st — John Thyen and Justin South
2nd — Bruce Gastson and Gregg Alford
1st — Jeff McMahan and John Seago
2nd — Dan Cook and Robert Wilson