KU's Andy Stewart may have been the low amateur at the Kansas Open, but recent graduates Pat Perez and Jay Tewell also made an impression Friday.
By Robert Sinclair
Journal-World Sports Writer
Amateurs -- and recent amateurs -- fared well during the 23rd annual Kansas Open on Friday at Alvamar.
Kansas University sophomore-golfer-to-be Andy Stewart earned low amateur honors, after tying for the tournament's best round with a 5-under-par 67 on Friday. Stewart, who edged KU teammate Chris Thompson, finished with a 3-under-par 213.
"Thompson had me by 5 and we were talking on the putting cloth," Stewart said. "I've known him forever and I told him I was going to come get him. He said, 'Bring it on.' I nipped him by 1."
The friendly rivalry between the two golfers began long before they became Jayhawks. Both Stewart and Thompson, who will be a junior, are from Independence.
Thompson, who was leading all amateurs at the beginning of the final round, is fresh off winning the Kansas Amateur Championship.
Now Stewart finally has some bragging rights.
"Not for very long," Stewart said. "We're going home on Sunday. They're going to have a dinner for him for winning the Kansas Amateur. So it should be a pretty good deal."
Friday's victory didn't come easy for Stewart, who like many of the golfers had to finish his second round Friday morning.
"It was real weird. We teed off at 7:39 (Thursday) night. We just knew we weren't going to have enough light to play maybe four, maybe five holes," Stewart said. "We got four holes in and I got four pars so I was pretty happy. We had to come out (Friday) morning to finish. I was 2-over this morning.
"Then I just figured I might as well come out, go after it and see what I could shoot."
Pat Perez, one year removed from Arizona State, could do Stewart one better, needing to play 15 holes Friday morning.
The San Diego resident doesn't mind the long day as much now that he has a $6,500 second-place check in his pocket.
"It's great," said Perez, who shot a 10-under-par 206. "I haven't done this well since pretty much college. It feels good. It would have been nice to win. But I'm happy with it."
Jay Tewell, a recent Oklahoma State graduate, actually entered the final round tied for first with eventual winner Tripp Isenhour.
"I'm very pleased. This was my first tournament as a pro," Tewell said. "I didn't have high expectations. I just wanted to have a good tournament, just try and get my foot in the door. Then after the first two rounds, tied for the lead, things were going well. But I just told myself that no matter what happened this whole week I was just going to enjoy it and try and learn from it, have a good attitude. I think that helped me today."
Tewell said that being a caddy for his father, Doug, a 23 year-veteran of the PGA tour, during the Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic on July 16-19 in Madison, Miss made all the difference.
"As far as my first two rounds, those were the lowest two rounds back-to-back I've ever put together," the younger Tewell said. "A lot of that was just from caddying for him. I realized that when you make a birdie you can't just focus on where you're at. You need to focus on trying to get another one."