Jayhawk Chase Hanna Wins the Watson Challenge
MISSION HILLS, Kan. – Kansas men’s golfer Chase Hanna shot a one-under 69 to edge golfing legend Tom Watson by one stroke and win the Watson Challenge at Mission Hills Country Club Sunday.
“You know, I was confident all day,” Hanna said of his final round. “I was swinging it really well. I struggled with my ball striking on the first day. Today, I really struck everything well.”
The Watson Challenge gathers the best golfers in the Kansas City area to determine the title “Best Golfer in the Greater Kansas City Golf Community” according to the Kansas City Golf Association website. Watson has won fvie of the nine events bearing his name with the three-round tournament beginning in 2007. Hanna tied for ninth in the 2014 Watson Challenge at Loch Lloyd Country Club in only other time he has competed in the tourney.
“This tournament is designed to see who is the best player in Kansas City, amateur or pro alike,” Watson said of the 47-golfer field which included 23 amateurs, including Hanna. “This year, the best player here was an amateur.”
With a one-shot lead heading into the par-five 18th hole, Hanna hit an unbelievable bunker shot to save par and defeat Watson, 206-207, in the three-round event. The two entered Sunday’s third and final round in a three-way tie with Michael Letzig. Carding two bogeys and two birdies on the front nine, Hanna, from Leawood, Kansas, also had two birdies on the back nine, with one bogey, to claim the victory.
Hanna opened The Watson Challenge shooting a 3-under 67 on Friday, June 12. The KU junior-to-be was two over after three holes in his opening round and then proceeded to card five birdies with his 67 tying for first after day one. Letzig also shot a 67 in his opening round.
In Saturday’s second round, Hanna and Letzig each shot an even-par 70, while Watson inked a 67, creating the three-way tie heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I would say this is the biggest win,” Hanna said. “Beating Mr. Watson and Michael Letzig, too. Mr. Watson made a cut on the tour this year, so I feel I beat a still, great player. I’m just thrilled with how it ended up.”
A 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection, Hanna led KU as a sophomore last season with an average 72.30 strokes per round, besting his average from his freshman year at 73.24. Hanna finished 2014-15 with two top-five finishes and six top-20 placings, including eight rounds in the 60’s. He also led KU in scoring in five of its 12 events. Hanna’s best outing of 2014-15 was an individual runner-up finish at the Ram Masters Invitational, Sept. 15-16.
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