Ryan Henry holds on to win Victoria Texas Open
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Ryan Henry was looking rather grizzled-looking as he approached the 18th tee box.
He said he decided to try something different for this tournament.
"I was saying this morning, 'should I shave or should I not shave?'" he said with a laugh. " I normally don't do facial hair."
The beard may be making more appearances at more tournaments after his performance over the weekend.
Henry, a former University of Tulsa golfer, won his first tournament in his three years on the NGA Hooters Tour, using a record setting round at Victoria Country Club on Saturday to win the inaugural Victoria Texas Open on Sunday by one stroke.
His 9-under 62 on Saturday, which catapulted him from 18th to first place, was a Victoria Country Club course record, breaking the previous record of 8-under 63, which golf pro Breene Cantwell was held by a group of people.
"I didn't see a 62 out there," he said. "I thought 65 would be the low round of the day or the low round of the tournament."
But his lead entering Sunday wasn't safe. He had only a one -stroke lead over group mate Eric Atsma. And then there was the hard-charging Michael Welch.
Welch entered the day in a gang of players tied for fourth at 9-under, but he shot a 5-under 66 on Sunday and spent much of the day tied with Henry for the lead.
Henry said he was told that Welch had ended the day one stroke behind, and it changed how he approached the rest of the hole.
"It meant I didn't have to go pin hunting to try to win and I could be a little more conservative," he said. "I could play it safe.
"All I had to do was make a 5. We just took it in the middle of green and hit it right at the scoreboard and tried to two-putt and get the heck out of here."
But there was a longstanding nemesis on the 18th hole. For two of the previous three days, Henry had planted his tee shot in a fairway bunker.
Saturday was different. But Sunday, he was back in the bunker with the tournament on the line.
"That hole's just eating me up," he said. "The tee shot doesn't fit my eye. I got too aggressive the first two days, and today I was just a little more conservative, tried to hit it out to 150 yards, take my medicine and hit it in the middle of the green from there."
He finished Sunday with 2-under 69 to close out the event.
This was Henry's third cut in four events, and his first top-3 finish of the year.
He had been building toward this type of finish steadily improving his performance. It finally culminated with Saturday's score, he said.
"I've definitely been kind of working at getting better," Henry said. "A couple of positive finishes. Last week, I played really well on Sunday.
"I think that definitely springboarded me into this week. And then, yesterday, going nuts and shooting a 62, just finally everything fell into place and did everything right."
But for Henry, it hasn't sunk in yet.
"Maybe it will on the way home," he said. "I'm just so happy right now, I just got a smile from ear to ear. It's just such a confidence booster, I can't wait to go tee it up again."
Cantwell talk changes for next year event
The Victoria Texas Open could be almost a month earlier next year if the NGA Hooters Tour decides to reorder it's tour, said Breene Cantwell.
Tour officials are debating putting all three of the tour's Texas events - Victoria, Pearland and Houston - in succession, with Victoria being the first of the three.
That would mean, Cantwell said, an early June start.
"They had a three hour meeting the other day, and never came to a conclusion on it," he said.
Overall, the event finished a big success for Victoria and the country club, and the players were satisfied with a the course and the way the event was run based on a player survey, Cantwell said.
For next year, he said there will likely be more tee boxes prepared for the course in order to lengthen it.
"We're right there right now, or pretty close," Cantwell said. "We're looking at 2 and 13, and possibly a couple of other holes we could lengthen."
There will also be more talk of which events to change and add to for next year. The tournament officially came together in less than a year, with the tour officially deciding to come to Victoria in the fall.
With a full year of planning, Cantwell said, more can be done and prepared.
"We're going to have a meeting next week," he said. "We've all made notes of what's gone good, bad and different."
A lot of the changes to events will be to those leading up to the event, Cantwell said.
That being said, things probably won't change days, with the pro-am on Wednesday, shootout and long drive competition on Tuesday and a practice round on Monday.
"I think because we have more time to plan, I think you'll see a bigger pairings party and a bigger pro-am party," he said. But the format will still pretty much be the same."