Stephens, Blau and Hossack Capture Arizona Divisional Stroke Play Titles
by Kade Peterson
USGA P.J. Boatwright, Jr. Communications Intern
Three champions were crowned at the 2021 AGA Arizona Divisional Stroke Play Championship, played June 7-10 at TPC Scottsdale – Champions Course. Conrad Stephens (Senior), Tim Blau (Legends) and Chad Hossack (Masters) each earned a Kachina trophy after outlasting their respective divisions.
The conclusion of play on Tuesday saw Stephens hoist the Senior Division Kachina after two consecutive even-par 71’s to earn first place, three strokes clear of Ken Kellaney.
Stephens recorded five birdies en route to his opening round 71, one stroke behind Kellaney’s first-round 70. Stephens had a clear focus in mind for the second round.
“I concentrated on trying to hit the fairways,” said Stephens. “I did a really good job with that until the last couple holes.”
The gap between Kellaney and Stephens quickly closed, as Kellaney made a bogey on the second hole. A birdie on the fourth hole put Stephens alone at the top. He would give the shot back on the eighth hole, going into the long par 5, ninth tied with Kellaney.
“I think nine really helped a lot,” said Stephens. “That’s a very difficult pin placement in the back left, there is a small tier you have to hit, and I put it (his third shot) to about four and a half feet and made the putt. That gave me the momentum I needed, and I kept going.”
Neither player made moves after making the turn, until Stephens made a bogey on 14. Kellaney could not capitalize after regaining the lead, playing 15 through 17 in four over par. Stephens stepped onto the 18th tee with a two-stroke lead over Kellaney, needing one more good hole to secure the win. He delivered.
“I hit a pretty good drive, but it just drifted right (into the desert),” said Stephens. “I had a wide-open shot, I hit a seven iron to about ten feet and made the putt. That capped it off, it felt really good.
“This is a big deal because I have only been here in Arizona for three years. I moved from Boise, Idaho. I was not able to play last year because I did not get in soon enough. It was exciting being able to play and I am glad I was able to win it.”
For Full Senior Division Results: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/2795544
Competition continued Wednesday and Thursday, with the Legends and Masters divisions taking on the Champions Course.
Blau claimed the Legends Division title at the end of play Thursday with a one-under-par 70, but to him the accomplishment came a day early.
“I shot 70 and turn 70 tomorrow,” said Blau after five birdies on the day. “I hit my irons really well, only hit one bad iron shot today. This gave me realistic looks at birdies. Had a couple of twos out there which always helps the round. Nice one was on 16, was just on the back of the green and made a nice putt.”
Blau echoed many of the players in the field when discussing the challenge the golf course presented.
“Reading the greens is a challenge out there,” Blau said. “The guy in the pro shop told me the putts always break away from the mountain unless they don’t.”
Blau was able to navigate the greens well, on a day that did not see low scores from the rest of the field.
“Playing against some great players – Murph (Mitchell) shot 69 yesterday, Frank Ellenburg had a great round yesterday,” explained Blau. “To be honest I was only hoping I tied to get into a playoff, I did not expect these guys to not score. I think Frank made double on 18, which happens. Three years ago, I tripled to miss the playoff.”
Blau mentioned what being able to compete with a strong field like the one he bested meant to him after the round.
“What I am most pleased of is playing with these guys who are a little younger than me and playing up to that caliber,” Blau said. “These are really good players, anytime I can play with Frank (Ellenburg) Murph (Mitchell) and (Jeff) Zieky and keep in that competition range is pleasing to me.”
Following the Legends Division out was the Masters Division, where Hossack finished on top of the competition. He started the day tied for the lead and his consistent play carried him to victory, on a day where low scores were hard to come by.
“I credit it to my course management, just understanding my dispersion patterns,” said Hossack of his one-under-par 70 in the second round. “Sticking to what I know I do, the course played long for me because it was wet but tried to stay patient.
“(Being competitive) is always the goal, trying to have a chance. Every year I have just tried to get better, I worked with some great instructors, Boyd Summerhays and Stan Utley.”
Hossack was never far ahead of his competitors, standing on the 18th tee tied with his playing partner, Russell May.
“I figured we were close, but I wasn’t sure,” admitted Hossack. “I had no idea what Brian (Hoops) was doing, I figured someone might have been hot today because it was certainly getable. I didn’t change anything, I picked my lines and hit a good iron that ended up being the right number and it worked out.”
Hossack made birdie while May made bogey, providing for the final two-stroke margin. Hossack hopes this tournament win is a sign of things to come.
“It is a great start – I haven’t played much tournament golf the past couple years and this was the year to get back into it,” said Hossack. “These events are fun, I had a really good pairing and it was a fun golf course. I’m looking forward to playing in the next one.”
Full Legends Division and Masters Division Results: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/2795877