With a seven-stroke lead heading into the final day of the Fort Worth Junior Boys Golf Tournament, Mansfield High senior Collin Clark felt some of the pressure raise off his shoulders.
Five holes into that fourth round at Colonial Country Club, all of the pressure returned.
“Once I stepped on five and I made double, it kind of hit me that this isn’t a game, this is competition,” Clark said.
Clark managed to take home the title, shooting a final-round 81 for a tournament total of 294, but things got dicey on the 18th and final hole.
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Leading by four strokes, Clark hooked his tee shot into a hazard on the right side of the fairway, resulting in a 10-minute delay for a ruling and then a stroke penalty.
After a drop, Clark’s layup shot appeared to reanimate after coming to a stop, disappearing down a hill that led to the water hazard on the left side of the 18th green.
When Clark reached his second shot, he was pleased to find it escaped falling into the water by less than a foot, but left him with a tough third shot.
“It was kind of an awkward lie,” Clark said. “Half of it was in the low cut and half of it was in the high cut, so it came out kind of awkward — a little different than I thought it would.”
When Clark reached the green, he had six strokes under his belt already, with his lead competitor, Southlake Carroll’s Jorge Morillo, on the green in three.
Two putts would have ultimately forced a playoff, but Clark drilled a mid-range putt for his seventh stroke to claim his one-stroke victory.
At that point, Morillo said he thought Clark was putting to tie.
“I thought he went into the water,” he said. “I thought he had to make it. In reality, strategy wise, he was out. I should have gone first so that way he had more pressure on him, but I didn’t and that’s how it works. Either way, he made the putt and it was a very clutch putt and he got the win.”
Morillo made a late charge to put that pressure on Clark, birdieing both the 15th and 17th holes.
“When he hit it in the hazard on the right, I knew it wasn’t over,” Morillo said. “I didn’t find the green but I was able to get up for par. He was able to make the 7 he needed, but he played OK enough to win, so that works.”
Morillo shot a final-round 75 with a four-day total of 295, followed by Clark Dennis who took third place on a scorecard playoff over Sully Billingsley, both posting a grand total of 299.
With the win, Clark becomes the fourth Mansfield High golfer to win the tournament in the last six years.
Current Arkansas golfer Kolton Crawford took back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, followed by current Houston Baptist golfer Andy Ariens in 2011.
“It’s awesome,” Clark said. “It really is because we’ve had three players from Mansfield win this tournament in the last five years, so it’s cool to be able to carry that on.”
It is also the fifth golfer coached by current Mansfield head coach Trampas Wilson in the last 12 years to win the tournament, as former Paschal and TCU golfer Franklin Corpening won in 2003 while being coached by Wilson at Paschal.
“We have had a good run of good players and all those kids are very similar, they’re all hard workers and good kids,” Wilson said. “They’re fun to coach. Where we’re at, we have so many good golfers, the competition keeps these kids working every day because they know if they’re sitting at home, somebody is pushing ahead of them.”
That fact alone made the win even sweeter for Clark.
“It’s awesome,” Clark said. “It really is because we’ve had three players from Mansfield win this tournament in the last five years, so it’s cool to be able to carry that on. I look up to Kolton a lot. He’s a good kid and it’s fun to watch him play.”