If you watched any of the final round of the Valero Texas Open on TV a couple of weeks ago, you probably saw a little of Austin’s Bob Estes, who was in contention most of the week and finally tied for seventh.
At some point late in the final round, an NBC announcer — it wasn’t Johnny Miller — noted that Estes is 47 and in his 25th year on the PGA Tour. He referred to Estes as “the ultimate Tour journeyman.”
I beg to differ. “Journeyman” might not be a derogatory term, but it’s also not a real compliment. And Estes certainly does not fit any definition of journeyman you can come up with. Granted, Estes, a Longhorns All-American and the college player of the year in 1988, may not be among the elite of the PGA Tour. But journeyman? No way.
Consider part of Estes’ résumé:
- Estes has four Tour victories, including the 1994 Texas Open. His last win was the 2002 Kemper Insurance Open.
- Estes has 90 career finishes in the top-10, including 10 times as a runner-up.
- Estes has played in 52 majors, with 10 top-20 finishes. Five of those were in the top 10, including fourth in the 1999 Masters.
- At 47, Estes this season is playing very good golf. He has made the cut in seven of eight starts, and his tie for seventh in the Texas Open was his third top-25 finish. He is 51st in the Tour’s Fed Ex Cup points race, and ranks 26th on Tour in scoring at 70.39 per round.
Estes is in the field for the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head S.C., which begins Thursday.
Conference championships: The Texas and St. Edward’s men’s and women’s teams will compete in their respective conference tournaments over the next several days.
The Texas women play Friday through Sunday in the Big 12 championships at The Harvester in Rhodes, Iowa. The 16th-ranked Longhorns have finished in the top five four times this season. Senior Desiree Dubreuil has three top 10s this year.
The Texas men play in the Big 12 championships April 22-24 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. UT’s victory in last week’s Morris Williams Intercollegiate was their fourth win of the season. The defending national champions are ranked No. 3 nationally. Freshman Brandon Stone has two victories this season. Senior Cody Gribble has finished in the top 20 in his last five tournaments.
The St. Edward’s men and women play April 22-23 in the Heartland Conference championships at the Golf Club of Dallas. The men have finished sixth or better four times this season. Sophomore Jose Hernandez leads the team in scoring and has two top-five finishes. The women, ranked No. 2 nationally in Division II, are favored to win a seventh straight Heartland title. Senior Wallis Spears and junior Ryanne Haddow each have an individual victory this season. Sophomore Haley Haught of Austin has finished in the top five four times.
Will Stephens: The Austin golf community suffered a major loss with the death Saturday of teaching pro Will Stephens — Uncle Will as he was affectionately known by his legions of friends and students.
Stephens taught hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Austin golfers. “Balance and rhythm” was his message, and he had the gift of putting seemingly complex swing thoughts into basic, simple terms.
Visitation is Monday at 2:30 p.m. and services at 3:30 p.m. at Cook-Walden/Capital Parks Funeral Home in Pflugerville.
Keeping up with Vines: Austin native Kelsey Vines — a senior at Oklahoma State and the No. 3-ranked women’s player in the country. She was the Big 12’s player of the year last season and this year has one victory and four other top-five finishes.
Vines was a two-time Texas State Junior champion. She played at Westlake before the family moved to Utah, and played at BYU before transferring to Oklahoma State.