AIKEN — Glen Hurt had two words for Billy Rangos after Rangos won the senior division title in Sunday’s First Tee of Aiken Invitational.
“About time,” said Hurt, the reigning Regions Bank Amateur Series Senior Player of the Year who finished second to Rangos at Houndslake Country Club.
Rangos, 55, had played in more than 40 senior division Regions events before breaking through for his first victory.
“He’s paid his dues,” said Hurt, who is a four-time senior division tournament winner. ”I wouldn’t say he was overdue, but I knew for the last couple of years it was just a matter of putting it together in one weekend. He had it in him. He finally brought it out.”
“It’s obviously a good thing; I’m excited about finally winning,” said Rangos, an Aiken resident who closed with 3-under-par 69 to finish at 1-over 145 and beat Hurt (72-75) by two shots. “I always felt like it (a victory) would happen.”
The win came against a small field, but it did include Hurt, defending champion Frank Perry, Robert Samuels, Tripp Kuhlke, Jeff Roberts and Mike Jackson.
“A win is a win. I’m just happy to finally break the ice,” said Rangos, who did say it would have been “a little bit nicer to win with a full field, so to speak.”
His winning total was a shot lower than last year’s winning total here last year.
“Even with a full field, he would have been right there,” Hurt said. “The course played tough. There were some difficult pin placements and the speed of the greens made it tough to make putts. You had to putt defensively on a lot of holes.”
In the regular division, former Lakeside golfer Kelby Burton also won for the first time, but he didn’t have to wait nearly as long as Rangos.
“I’ve played in a couple (Regions events), here and there,” said the 21-year-old Burton, who will be a redshirt junior on the Kennesaw State golf team in the fall.
Burton shot 70-71–141 to win by seven shots over defending champion Jeff Pope (80-68) and Michael Phelps (76-72).
Burton, who decided to play at Houndslake as a tune-up for next month’s Palmetto Amateur, had the same winning total as Pope did last year.
“It would have been nice to see how I did against a bigger field, but it’s nice that I won by a pretty large margin,” Burton said.
“I know where my game is now when I play in competition and can build on that from here,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to get out of it.”
Burton, whose father Jim was a head coach for the Augusta Lynx hockey team, started the day with a three-shot lead.
He put it on cruise control after making birdies on the first three holes Sunday (an 8-footer, a 6-footer and a 40-foot chip-in) on the Dogwood nine at Houndslake.
“After that, I played so-so,” Burton said. “For the rest of the day, I was trying to maintain the lead that I had.”
This was the second of 10 Regions Bank Amateur Series events. The next one is the Camellia Classic June 1-2 at Belle Meade Country Club.