The Norman Transcript

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August 25, 2013

North’s Johnson chasing history

EDMOND — A three-putt here and there aside, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than this.

At the tournament that includes the names of past winners like Bob Tway and Willie Wood and Mark Hayes and Gil Morgan and Lucas Glover and even British Open champion Todd Hamilton on its trophy, a very different name is threatening to be put alongside.

That would be 16-year-old Norman North junior Thomas Johnson, who, at 8-under par 132 after 36 holes at Oak Tree Country Club’s fantastic East layout, is just a stroke back of Oscar Stark going into today’s final round of the Oklahoma Open.

The tour pros may not leave the circuit to play the Oklahoma Golf Association’s flagship event any longer, but don’t let it fool you. 

An open event, the field is primarily pros. Of the 47 players to make Saturday’s cut, 41 will be playing for the trophy as well as a $10,000 check.

The OGA’s State Amateur and Stroke Play Championship are fantastic events that produce state champions in every sense of the word, but they are not this.

And the kid is one back.

“I feel like I had one really, really good round and one bad finish,” Johnson said after Saturday’s even par 70. 

Still, he added, “I’m kind of shocked by it.”

Him and everybody else.

You might have figured it out already. If he shot 70 Saturday, he had to shoot 62 Friday, and that’s just what he did when he turned a great round that had him 3-under after 11 holes into one for the ages when, playing the front nine last, he closed with birdies at Nos. 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8.

For uninitiated golfing fans, which likely include most of Johnson’s friends and classmates at North, look at it this way: This isn’t’ supposed to happen, yet the kid’s in the final group.

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