Casey Tooley has played the Pickens Amateur Championship seven or eight times, he says.
Now, his name is among the winners.
Tooley shot a two-day 8-under par 136 at CrossWinds Golf Course to win the Pickens Amateur Championship over the weekend.
“This is very special. Winning this event is just great. There’s a lot of great players and a lot of talent out here,” Tooley said. “I feel like I’m probably not the best ball striker, but I feel like I’m a good player. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime event, so I’m tickled to death. I’m very happy.”
Tooley, of Monroe County, put himself in a good position to win the Pickens for the first time by shooting a 5-under 67 in Saturday’s first round. He held a one-stroke lead over Drake Duncan and Dakota Woodcock entering Sunday’s final round.
Tooley took the same strategy into the final round to shoot a 3-under 69, holding onto the lead for a two-stroke victory despite a bogey on the next-to-last hole in the 36-hole medal-play tournament held annually over the last full weekend of June.
“I didn’t hit my driver well, but I made good iron shots into the greens and when I missed the green, I got up and down. I really putted well here and it was just fortunate to get the win,” Tooley said.
For Tooley, who works for the Kentucky State Police, the victory also comes as an early birthday present of sorts and showed he can play with the area’s talented young golfers. The winners of the last five tournaments – Blain Turner (2019, 2021), Chase Landrum (2018) and Jared Brown (2016, 2017) – were all among the golfers in the championship flight.
“You don’t get to practice like you normally would, but I play a lot of golf,” Tooley said. “I’m 49 – I’ll be turning 50 in the next month – this is kind of a special time, really, being older. These young guys really hit the ball good and I just came out on top luckily, I guess.”
The victory also came in Tooley’s first time getting a chance to play at CrossWinds this season.
“I was going to come up and play a practice round, but didn’t have time – I had to work – and it was booked on Friday, so I didn’t get to get up. I was wanting to play it because I was wanting to see the course, what kind of shape and how it was going to play,” Tooley said. “We played it down, and it was tricky – sometimes you got in this fairway and being dry, it was a bad lie sometimes. I did hit the ball good out of the fairways into the greens, so I think that’s what helped me.”
Carson Holmes, Turner – the two-time defending champion – and Duncan finished in a three-way tie for second at 6-under. Adam Houchens rounded out the top five by finishing 5-under. Dakota Woodcock (-4), Cameron Fields (-2), Rafe Blankenship (-2) and Ryan Harris (-1) all finished under par, and Landrum shot an even-par 144 thanks to his 1-under 71 round Sunday.