GEORGETOWN — Dallas Hankamer is no average sophomore.
During the opening round of his first appearance in the UIL Boys Golf State Championships on Monday, the Belton medalist played like a savvy veteran. On a breezy day when his ball-striking wasn’t as consistent as desired, Hankamer’s masterful short game saved him time and again and had him tied for the lead in the Class 6A tournament at Legacy Hills Golf Club.
“I definitely chip a lot,” the District 12-6A and Region II champion said.
A prime example occurred on the par-3 16th hole, where Hankamer hooked his tee shot long and left, 25 yards from the flagstick. After getting relief from the cart path, he expertly landed a high-trajectory pitch shot onto the green, with his ball rolling out and stopping inches from the cup for a tap-in par.
“Just a simple, high shot,” the 6-foot-2, 155-pound Texas A&M commitment said. “When I dropped (my ball) twice, it didn’t stay so I got to place it, which helped. No. 16 was a great save.”
Another skillful greenside pitch set up his fourth birdie at the par-5 18th, completing Hankamer’s 3-under 69 to share the lead with two players entering today’s final round.
“I feel good. There was definitely a little adrenaline but once I got through No. 1, I calmed down the rest of the round,” said Hankamer, whose birdies on the first and third holes were wrapped around his lone bogey, a three-putt at No. 2. “The conditions were tough. On the into-the-wind holes, I tried to get up and down and make some great pars. On the downwind holes, you’ve got to take advantage.”
Hankamer is tied with Austin Westlake freshman Jacob Sosa and Houston Stratford junior Drew Murdock, one stroke ahead of Austin Lake Travis junior Trey Bosco — one of Hankamer’s Monday playing partners — and Clute Brazoswood junior Jacob Borow. Five players shot 71.
Sosa and Murdock are competing on teams and won’t be grouped with Hankamer, who’ll tee off today alongside fellow medalists Bosco and Borow at 9 a.m. on No. 1 at 6,873-yard Legacy Hills.
Defending state champion Westlake’s No. 1 team leads the standings at 1-over 289, seven ahead of 2018 runner-up Leander Vandegrift. Westlake’s second team is third, 10 strokes back.
The confidence and short-game acumen Hankamer displayed during his state debut didn’t surprise Belton coach Jim Hellums.
“He doesn’t play like a sophomore. He plays like one of the most experienced players I’ve seen in 39 years doing this,” Hellums said of Hankamer, who is seeking Belton’s first individual state golf crown since Andrew Paysse won the 5A title in 2013 at Morris Williams in Austin. “He has the same characteristics as kids who’ve won state championships. He’s got that mentality.
“His front-nine 34 could have been 32, maybe even 31. But that back nine was impressive. I mean, up and down from everywhere. Just a really great round.”
However, Hankamer didn’t produce his group’s highlight. A cart-path bounce helped Bosco’s drive travel 431 yards on the 562-yard, par-5 seventh. His 131-yard approach hopped once and disappeared into the cup for an albatross 2. Bosco celebrated with his coach and other spectators, screaming, “Let’s go!”
Hankamer, who birdied three of four par-5s, made 10-foot birdie putts at the par-4 first and the par-5 third. On the par-3 eighth, he flared his tee shot into the rough but deftly saved par from a sidehill lie.
Hankamer battled swing mechanics on the back nine yet parred the first eight holes, aided by a difficult chip on No. 13, a 60-foot pitch on No. 14 and his aforementioned escape act on No. 16. A fairway bunker snared Hankamer’s drive on No. 18, but he stopped his 25-yard pitch 3 feet away and made birdie to maintain momentum.
Hankamer’s brothers Dane and Dalton won state golf championships at Salado before Division I college careers, and he’ll continue to employ their sage advice today while shooting for a state championship.
“They said to take it shot-by-shot, and they have confidence in me to pull this thing off,” Dallas said. “It’s the same game plan — take advantage of the holes you have a chance to, fight for as many pars as you can and eliminate anything worse than bogey.”
CLASS 6A LEADERBOARD
First round, at Legacy Hills GC, Georgetown
- T1. Dallas Hankamer, Belton 69
- T1. Drew Murdock, Houston Stratford 69
- T1. Jacob Sosa, Austin Westlake I 69
- T4. Jacob Borow, Clute Brazoswood 70
- T4. Trey Bosco, Lake Travis 70
- T6. Niko Nebout, Clear Springs 71
- T6. Luke Dossey, Austin Vandegrift 71
- T6. Holden Hamilton, Humble Kingwood 71
- T6. Thomas Bockholt, Austin Westlake I 71
- T6. Johnny Keefer, SA Johnson 71
- T11. Matthew Spaulding, Klein Cain 72
- T11. Will Horn, Rockwall 72
- T11. Hayes Haydon, Austin Westlake II 72