El Campo's Johnson relishes chance at the big boys

June 30, 2011 at 1:30 a.m.

Spending hours in the heat competing in a golf tournament with no chance of a prize may not be the ideal way spend the summer.

But that's the way Travis Johnson likes it.

"Keeping the amateur status will take a little bit of pressure off me, because I know I'm not playing for all my money," Johnson said with a laugh

And that's the life of an amateur testing his skills on the NGA Hooters Tour for an entry fee.

The Tour is making its annual stop at the Victoria Country Club for the Victoria Texas Open through Sunday.

Johnson is making his first appearance on the Hooters Tour.

Johnson played for El Campo's golf team, and had a two medal-winning finishes at the District 23-4A tournament his junior and senior years.

He joined Texas-Tyler golf team after graduating from El Campo in 2007 and golfed for the Patriots for three seasons.

Not only does playing as a amateur give Johnson the chance to network with professionals, it lets him measure up against pros and reminds him that how attainable a dream of a pro career can be.

"This is just the next step," Johnson said.

The 21-year-old Johnson started playing golf at the age of 13, and like many golfers, Johnson finds the mental aspect of competing against both other players and a course appealing. It's also a no excuses sport.

"You're your own ref, your own coach and you're the whole team," Johnson said. "You do the best you can for what the course gives you. You can't think about anyone else out there because that will get you all scrambled up."

"It just brings out the best in each player and shows who the best player is each week," he added.

Johnson has played the course at the Victoria Country Club at the Class 4A regional tournament were held in Victoria when he played for El Campo.

But the course doesn't give him an advantage. Rather, it's the lack of travel and familiarity that made for a more comfortable experience before he started the first round on Thursday.

"I'm able to stay at my house, sleep in my own bed, eat home cooked meals," Johnson said. "These guys are out here traveling every week just to make the next paycheck and feed themselves."

Johnson shot an 11-over 82 on Thursday.

Johnson said the Hooters Tour brings less pressure to it than a collegiate tournament. Being an amateur, the senior at Texas-Tyler cannot win prize money or points, a stark contrast to the go-go pace of many college tournaments, he said, which don't include cash prizes but can have a stressful atmosphere.

"Everyone out here is just trying to make a living and play well and they want everyone else to do the same," Johnson said.

What home course advantage?

Johnson wasn't the only area golfer to compete at the Victoria Texas Open as Victoria's Joe Mitchell Jr. and Edna's Kyle Neal also played on Thursday.

Mitchell, the assistant golf pro at Victoria Country Club, shot a two-over 73. Neal finished with a 17-over 88.

The projected cut is at even par after the first round.

TCU golfer starts out strong

Amateur Scott Roudebush recently finished up his senior season on the Horned Frogs golf team and is in good shape at the Victoria Texas Open.

Roudebush birdied six holes and shot a two-under 69 during Thursday's opening round.

Tie for the top

After the first day of play at the Victoria Texas Open James Vargas and Bobby Hutcherson are tied atop the leader boards with a six-under 65.

Andrew Landry and Connor McHenry are nipping at them as both finished five-under.

Jeff Corr and Brandon Frankhouser round out the Top 5 as they finished 4-under.



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