Kyle Kelting fought back tears Sunday afternoon standing on the 18th green of the Mustang Course at Ross Rogers Golf Complex.
“This one is special,” Kelting said.
What was especially emotional for Kelting is the 60-year-old turned back the clock on his younger opponents running off a streak of four birdies in five holes on the final nine holes of this four-day event claiming the prestigious 28th Annual Tournament of Champions by three strokes.
Kelting, who celebrated his 60th birthday Sunday, shot a 14-under 272 during the challenging tourney featuring the top amateur golfers in the Texas Panhandle played out over four different courses at Amarillo Country Club, Tascosa Golf Club, Comanche Trails Golf Complex and Ross Rogers.
Kelting won by three strokes over Stewart Dotson and Luke Kane, claiming his third TOC title over a 24-year period. Kelting is the oldest player to ever win the TOC eclipsing his own mark when he won at age 54.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Kelting said. “This is pretty special. My Mom and Dad are here. Lori (SP?) and the kids. This is a pretty good birthday present.”
Kelting was not handed the tournament by any means. As he stepped to the 11th tee he was tied with West Texas A&M golfer and New Zealand native Josh Roche at 9-under.
Roche had opened the day sizzling at 5-under after four holes with three birdies and an eagle.
Also breathing down Kelting’s neck was previous TOC champion Luke Kane (one back) and Stewart Dodson (two back), who lead the tourney during the opening nine.
But starting on par 4 No. 14, Kelting was dialed in with his irons and wedges taking control with four birdies over the final five holes to close out the TOC.
Kelting produced pretty much bac-to-back tap in birdies on No 14 and par 3 No. 15. He stepped to the No. 18 tee box with a two-shot lead and closed the his golf day out with about a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 18.
“I felt like I putted pretty good, I had a couple of three putts yesterday (at Comanche),” Kelting said. “My irons helped me to a couple of stress-free birdies there. Those guys are to beat. Look at the scores and you see they played incredible. I told myself I wanted to play mistake-free golf and let the chips fall where they may.”
Kelting opened the TOC with a 71 on Amarillo CC (three shots behind leader Kane), then tied the TOC record at Tascosa GC with Dodson shooting 66 and backed that up with a 69 at Comanche on Saturday.
“I am very blessed,” Kelting said who Sunday ended a long stretch of nearly six-straight weeks of competitive golf which included winning the Bud Partnership with son, Derick (who finished 7th in the TOC).
Dodson and Kane finished at 11-under, with Dodson officially second because of a scorecard playoff.
Roche finished fourth at 10-under ending a tremendous summer of golf winning three times and will have momentum into his WT fall season.
Perryton’s Tate Allred was fifth at 3-under, Amarillo’s Zach Norell sixth at 3-under, with former Tascosa High star Derick Kelting at 2-under.
Rounding out the scores were defending champ Les Phillips at plus two, Borger’s Tyler Paige at plus two and Amarillo businessman Geoff Phemister at plus six.
In the TOC Senior Division, Brad Borden made it three in a row in the two-day tourney winning by six strokes with a 7-under 137.
Borden and runner-up Les Jones were tied for the lead after day one with an opening 70 at Comanche, but Borden was the lone golfer of the seven in the field to break par on Sunday shooting a 67.
“I’m thrilled to get to play and it’s a lot of fun,” said Borden, the former WT men’s golf coach. “Things have gone my way these last three years. I appreciate the people who put these tournaments on. Not many places are like this, and I really appreciate the pros and Reed Beverage. Also, I’d like to thank Kyle Kelting for playing in the real tournament all three years.”
Rounding out the seniors was Ralph Ellis in third place at plus 7, Mickey Wilson fourth at plus 8, Greg Jennings in fifth at plus 10, Rebel Aistrup next at plus 11 and Chris Purcell in at plus 18.