The Cowboy Cup Invitational made its Muny Rat debut this past Saturday at Grey Rock Golf Club, bringing some of Andy Boutot's longtime golf buddies together with the Rats for an event that certainly lived up to the tournament's long and rich history.
In hot, breezy conditions, with the grandeur and prestige of the event perhaps weighing on the collective nerves of the field, scores were high and all but one player failed to play to their respective handicap. Nevertheless, after 18 holes of low net competition, the field was cut down to four for a final nine holes. The remainder of the field formed a gallery around tournament leader, John Montgomery (Even par Net) and 3 others (Billy Mutschler, past champion Matt Drago, and Greg Mickelson) were each tied at Net +3.
Fresh drinks were poured, caddies were assigned, and play resumed with official scorer, Ross Henry, announcing the current standings after each hole. After 6 holes, Montgomery (a 14 hdcp out of Houston, TX) had improved his lead to 4 strokes through steady shot-making and prudent course management. But he suffered a setback on the par 5 seventh when an errant 2nd shot led to a double bogey and cut his lead to now only 2 over Drago. It was the kind of hiccup that can often be the undoing of a mid-handicapper who finds himself thrust into the crucible of tournament competition. But Montgomery found the courage to dig deep and just keep swinging. He righted the ship with a solid tee shot on the par 3 eighth that landed just off the green. And though he failed to get up and down for par, Drago also bogeyed to leave the margin at two going into the final hole. Then, with two solid shots into the par 4 ninth and a well executed lag putt to 3 feet, Montgomery allowed his opponents to finish out before calmly pouring his par putt into the center of the hole to earn his first Cowboy Cup victory!
As one of the tournament founders, the win meant a great deal to him and to the other longtime Cowboy Cuppers as John is widely known as one of the kindest, classiest, most stand-up guys around. At the trophy ceremony everyone was happy to toast his victory along with the performances of low medalist Mickelson,and low net runner-up Drago. Defending Champion Bill Sill proudly placed the jacket on John's shoulders and lit his cigar. Tournament Chairman Andy Boutot took the opportunity to toast a new partnership between the Cowboy Cup and the Muny Rats Tour and presented Tour Chairman T. Ross Henry with a bottle of Irish Whiskey as a token of esteem and gratitude for the new partnership. Andy then emotionally presented Montgomery with the trophy and yielded the stage for the new Champion to express some words of appreciation. Montgomery was eloquent. Finally, the day was done and pints were raised to what felt like a promising new beginning for a grand, old tournament.
The 2017 Cowboy Cup