HOUSTON—Three players share the overnight lead after the first round of the 17th Trans-Miss Senior Championship concluded Tuesday at historic Houston Country Club. Chuck Palmer from Dallas, George Zahringer from New York City, and Tommy Brennan from Covington, La., posted even-par 71s to lead the Senior Division.
Palmer, the 2012 Texas Senior Amateur champion, made one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars. He said his longest par-saving putt was about 5 feet. “I hit it pretty straight,” said Palmer, who finished tied for fourth in the last year’s Trans-Miss Senior. “I didn’t get into much trouble. When I did get in trouble, I got a lucky bounce to get out of it.”
Zahringer, who won the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur and 2013 British Senior Amateur in addition to a host of tournaments in the New York metropolitan area, offset two bogeys with consecutive birdies on the par-4 second and par-5 third holes. Zahringer shared part of sixth place at the 16th Trans-Miss Senior.
The runner-up at the 1994 U.S. Mid-Amateur, Brennan carded four birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey to sign for his 71.
Ninety-one players from 14 U.S. states comprised the field for the 17th Trans-Miss Senior Championship. That number includes all three division champions from 2015 back to defend their titles. The 2015 Senior Division champion, Jeff New from Scottsdale, Ariz., shot 4-over 75 and is tied for 14th place. Chris Maletis from Portland, Ore., won the Super Senior Division last year for his fifth Trans-Miss Senior title. He shot a 7-over 78 to share a piece of seventh place. The defending Legends Division champion, Jim Martin from Dallas, is tied for first place after a 6-over 77.
In the Super Senior Division for players aged 65 and older, Gary Kirwan from McKinney, Texas, and Jody Vasquez from Aledo, Texas, shot rounds of 3-over 74s to tie for the first round lead. Mike Arnold from San Antonio, Mickey McDonald from Shreveport, La., and Houston Country Club member Loren Singletary share third place at 4-over 75. John Goode from Killeen, Texas, sits alone in sixth place at 5-over 76.
There’s also a three-way tie atop spot in the Legends Division (70 years and older). Martin, the defending champion, along with current Trans-Miss President Phil Patterson from La Jolla, Calif., and Houston’s Bob Twaddell all posted 6-over 77s in the first round. Patterson drained a birdie on the 518-yard, par-5 17th hole. Martin made a birdie on the 352-yard, par-4 finishing hole; Twaddell made it around Houston CC without a birdie, but he never made worse than a bogey, either.
Houston Country Club, which celebrated its centennial in 2008, was originally designed by Tom McNamara at its original locale just south of downtown Houston. In 1956-57, the club re-opened in Houston’s Tanglewood area after Robert Trent Jones designed the 7,009-yard, present-day course, which sits next to Buffalo Bayou. The old school club has played host to six Texas Amateur Championships. The greens and bunkers in 1988 were modified by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who also recently renovated the eighth and 10th holes after a bayou erosion project.
A longtime Trans-Miss Golf Association Member Club, Houston Country Club hosted the 1982 Trans-Miss Four-Ball won by Trans-Miss director John Jennings, Jr. and John Paul Cain. The club gained national notoriety in 1964 when Ben Hogan faced off against Sam Snead in the popular made-for-TV series “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf.” Hogan won by three shots in an exhibition that was viewed by more than 3 million TV viewers.
About the Trans-Mississippi Golf Association
The Trans-Mississippi Golf Association is one of the oldest and most prestigious golf organizations in the United States. Established in 1901, the Trans-Mississippi is composed of over 200 member clubs located throughout the country. The Association is governed by a board of independent directors and is headquartered in Dallas, TX.
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