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Texas natives finish first, second at Colbert Classic

By Joel Jellison

Sitting at 11-under par, Case Cochran’s lead looked like it would be tough to run down going into the final day of the Colbert Charity Classic.

But fighting through tough wind conditions and pin placement, the tournament’s top three slipped from the lead, making way for a Zack Fischer to come from behind to win the Adams Golf Pro Tour event at Manhattan’s Colbert Hills Golf Course.

Fischer, a Wake Village, Texas, native, came into the final round sitting seven shots off the lead at 4-under par. With Cochran shooting 8-over par, and Matt Boyd and Kevin Penner falling out of contention, Fischer’s solid, consistent 2-under day proved enough to claim the tournament championship.

“It was awesome,” Fischer said. “I played really strange the first two days — I’d gone on vacation for a week and basically had last week to prepare. I didn’t have any expectations coming into this tournament. I wasn’t playing great coming in. I kind of found my swing the second day and really started playing well Friday and Saturday.”

Christopher E. Brown, golfing in Fischer’s group, finished 4-under par for the tournament to finished second. Cochran finished tied with Ryan Baca and former Kansas State golfer Kyle Smell at 3-under par for third place.

Smell said he was happy with the way he played in his return to the course, shaking off certain places around the course that he’d suffered some memorable bad shots.

“I’m really familiar with the course, but I also have a lot of bad shots here in the back of my mind,” he said. “I’m just really happy with the way I played. I put all that behind me and played solid.”

For Fischer, it was his first tournament win in two years, last winning the San Antonio Open in 2011. The last year, however, has seen his career take a big step forward with a number of PGA appearances. Fischer said Saturday’s win was another big step.

“I’ve had a lot of success this year,” he said. “I made three PGA tour events, made the US Open, but I only made the cut in one of those events. It was sweet to go to them, but you’d like to make some money or have some points going in.

“The Lord was good to me this week. I would have been so much more nervous if he wasn’t on my side.”

Saturday’s final round of the tournament featured some of the harshest conditions of the week, with a steady 15 to 20 mph wind making shots tougher.

Those conditions seemed to effect Cochran and his group early in the day, and put Fischer in position to make a run at the tournament title when he made the turn to the back nine.

“By far the hardest day,” he said. “You couldn’t be very aggressive, everything is so elevated and the wind was pumping. This course is hard, and the wind was howling. You don’t wish anything bad to anybody, I really wish I would have shot 62 and he had shot 69 or 70 and we’d tie or I’d beat him by one, with the way this course is, you can lose a lot of shots.”

Colbert Charity Classic tournament director Bernie Haney said the weather conditions this summer have helped the Colbert staff get the course back to where they want it to be. And he said it made for a great week for the players and volunteers.

“It’s back to where we want it to be,” he said. “With the past two summers and the way the drought has been, it’s been very stressful on the golf course. With some timely rainfall, we’ve been able to keep the course in great shape throughout the summer and into the fall.”

Former K-State golfer Curtis Yonke finished tied for 14th at 4-over par, while Mitch Gregson was tied for 18th at 5-over par. Joe Ida finished at 14-over to finish tied for 25th.

K-State grad Michael Parker, who did not play golf for the Wildcats, finished tied for 14th at 4-over par. Colbert Hills assistant golf professional Scott Wempe finished tied for 34th at 21-over par.

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