Tom Murphy is a sports reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. He was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Former Hog Long wins first pro tournament
Luke Long of Arkansas during an NCAA golf tournament on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods).
Former Fayetteville High School and University of Arkansas golfer Luke Long won his first professional tournament Friday when he captured the 52nd Texas State Open held by the Northern Texas PGA at The Cascades Club in Tyler, Texas.
Long, 24, held off a late charge by Sam Fidone of Irving, Texas, to win the four-round event at 15-under par and pocket the $40,000 winner’s check.
Fidone shot a 28 on the back nine to cap off a round of 63 on the 6,882-yard, par-70 layout. Long was just coming off a birdie at the 15th that put him at 16 under.
He gave a stroke back with a bogey on 18, but he had that cushion after playing partner Joel Thelen’s birdie putt on the 17th lipped out. Thelen, of Lansing, Mich., birdied No. 18 to tie Fidone for second place.
Long, who won the Blessings Collegiate Invitational in Johnson last October, said he’s improved his game.
“Everything’s coming together at the right time,” he said. “Some of the stuff I had been struggling with the past four or five years of my college career I’ve really started to iron out, especially in my short game.
“That was always kind of my weakest link. But now it’s one of the strongest parts of my game, keeping me in tournaments. I feel really good where my career’s at. This win will help me financially moving forward. Kind of a sigh of relief.”
Long was strong on moving day Thursday with an 8-under 62 to take the lead over second-round leader Ryan Grider of Oklahoma City.
“The round [Thursday] was awesome,” Long said. “It’s my career low for any tournament. Putting for me came together great.
“I was just hammering down with the mid-irons all day and giving myself a lot of good looks from 12 to 20 feet and just kept pouring them in. … I hung in all day, bided my time and cashed in when I could and I got everything out of the round that I could.”
Long, a two-time winner of the Arkansas Amateur (2018, 2021), said the next phase of his career is qualifying school for the Korn Ferry Tournament in late August in Lantana, Texas, just northwest of Dallas.
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