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'Money Shot' Propels Tyler to Texas State Open Victory

on 05 August 2012.

LEWISVILLE—Nathan Tyler said he wasn’t thinking about the $25,000 first place prize when he stood over his four-foot putt Sunday afternoon to win the Bright Realty Texas State Open.

Nathan Tyler acknowledges the gallery after draining the winning putt at the 42 Bright Realty Texas State Open. Nathan Tyler acknowledges the gallery after draining the winning putt at the 42 Bright Realty Texas State Open. Maybe not, but he won’t deny that sinking it changed the course of his 2012 season and perhaps his career.

Tyler made birdie on the first playoff hole at The Lakes at Castle Hills to win the prestigious championship and secure the much-needed funds to take him through PGA Tour Qualifying School at the end of the year. The former University of Arizona standout shot a final round 69 and finished at 8-under-par 280 along with Coppell’s Jamie Elliott, the director of instruction at Prestonwood Country Club and McKinney’s Dustin Risdon, a Canadian Tour veteran.

The three pros headed to the 341-yard, par-4 first hole for the sudden-death playoff and all found the fairway with their drives. After Risdon and Elliott hit approaches to 15 and eight feet, respectively, Tyler went last and dropped a dart to four feet from the cup.

“It was 85 yards,” he said. “That’s my money shot.”

Take that literally, because Tyler needed the payday. He really needed it.

Once Elliott and Brisdon missed their birdie attempts on the playoff hole and Tyler drained his, he accomplished more than winning the tournament. He secured the dire financial security.

 Although he’s the leading money winner on the National Pro Golf Tour, a mini-tour out of Southern California, he’s yet to be paid for more than two-thirds of his efforts this year.

“They still owe me $54,000,” said Tyler, a fifth-year pro makes his home in Tucson, Ariz. “I really believe in that tour and support them, but they ran out funds and haven’t paid me. I needed to win this tournament to put me in Q-School. It takes about $10,000 to get through the final stage, and I plan to be there.”

Tyler said his sponsors gave him $20,000 to start the year, but that money has been spent.

“I was on empty,” he said. “If I hadn’t won here, I didn’t really have a Plan B (for finances). I would have had to find some more tournaments to enter, but there really aren’t that many out there.”

Tyler doesn’t have to worry about that now. His consistent tee-to-green game helped score the big payday. It also put his name alongside other Texas State Open winners such as Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino, Jackie Burke Jr. and Jeff Maggert. Only Elliott, the 49-teacher teaching pro, finished higher than Tyler in the “pars or better” category. Tyler made pars or birdies on 63 of 72 holes—Elliott recorded 66 pars or better—which is a recipe for success at any major championship.

As it happens, Tyler was the lone player in the 144-man field with that kind of experience. He spent 2009 on the Web.com Tour and played in the U.S. Open that year at Bethpage Black. He holed out his last shot for eagle and a 69, but he missed the cut by two shots. Regardless, that experience paid dividends at The Lakes at Castle Hills, which featured fast fairways, thick, three-inch-high rough and firm greens that rolled out to more than 12 inches on the Stimpmeter.

This was Castle Hills’ first year playing host to the championship. For the previous six years, it had been played at The Cascades Club in Tyler, where the average winning score was 16-under par. Shawn Stefani won the 2011 Texas State Open with 21-under par. Castle Hills yielded the highest winning total (8-under) for the championship since 1997.

“The course is playing difficult to say the least,” Tyler said after the third round. “It’s almost like a U.S. Open set up. You have to hit it in the fairway to hold the greens, and you have to hit the greens to make par. It’s a great test.”

Although they came up just short in the playoff, Elliott and Risdon felt as though they passed the thorough examination Castle Hills offered.

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Elliott, who has played all of four competitive tournaments in the past year. “I’m not disappointed at all. I had a chance to win, and that’s all that you can ask for.”

Risdon, the Canadian who hails from Stratford, Alberta, and moved to McKinney a year ago, matched Tyler’s 3-under 69 in the final round. He made five birdies, including a clutch 25-footer on the 14th hole and another one from 15 feet on the 16th hole.

“I’m happy overall,” he said. “I’ve been a bit of a slump this summer, and it felt really good to be back in the heat of it. I finished off the round and got myself in the playoff. I have three more events on the Canadian Tour this year, and this week will give me some confidence.”

San Antonio’s Matthew Vela and Pat Grady from Broomfield, Colo., finished tied for fourth place at 4-under 284. Mansfield’s Kolton Crawford won low amateur honors with a final round 69. Crawford took a share of sixth place overall at 1-under 287. He’s a student of Castle Hills’ general manager Chris Martinez, who also teaches Rachel Smith, the low amateur at the Women’s Texas Open, which was played at Castle Hills in July.

The top 15 professionals earned exemptions into the 2013 Bright Realty Texas State Open. Tyler, like all winners, has a lifetime exemption. The top three low amateurs—Crawford, Southlake’s Vincent Martino and League City’s Will Dusenbury—also scored 2013 exemptions.

Look for expanded coverage of the 42nd Bright Realty Texas State Open in the September issues of DFW Links and Houston Links magazines. For complete scoring, click here.

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