This weekend Mike San Filippo has an opportunity to walk where no golfer in the state has tread. Should he successfully defend his Florida Senior Open title, he will be the first five-time winner of the event.
There are those of you out there who will think and say, “Big deal, he has beaten a field of old men a few times.” True, but consider this: You can’t play this event until you’re 50 years old. For those of you not there yet, that’s about the time you start waking up in the morning with aches and pains in places you never knew existed. Yet, at the age now of 59, San Filippo has won half of the Florida State Senior Opens that he has played. That is a big deal.
“Golf is different for me now,” said San Filippo, now in his second year as an instructor at Trump International in West Palm Beach. “Playing tournament golf isn’t going to pay most of my bills. Actually, it’s more fun now.”
Warning to the rest of the field this week at nearby Bear Lakes CC: Don’t think for a moment that the defending champ is out there looking for a walk in the park.
“But when the tournament starts, the juices start flowing,” he said. “I guess that never stops.”
Actually, San Filippo comes into this week with his game face in place. He is fresh off a T50 in the British Senior Open Championship played on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry in Scotland. It capped a busman’s holiday where he and a friend played their way around the British Isles.
“Yeah,” he chuckled, “I went on a golf vacation and ended up playing in the British Senior Open. It was a great trip and I got to play St. Andrews for the first time and shot a 67. It was a great trip.”
That was fun golf. This week is going to be more businesslike. While he has played the Bear Lakes layout before, he has never competed on that turf.
“I do know that it will be a very challenging course for seniors,” he opined. “Courses often look different in a tournament that they do when you’re just playing.”
Probably much the same as Naples Beach Country Club looked to him last year when he roared out of the pack in the final round to record an 8-under-par 64 to come from three shots back to win by three ahead of John Calabria.
“For some reason Naples Beach suited my eye and my game,” said San Filippo. “I had one of my best putting tournaments and I was really comfortable.”
Even though San Filippo has an opportunity to pass the late Bob Erickson for his fifth senior title this week, he is feeling little, if any, pressure.
“Actually, that (record-setting fifth title) hadn’t occurred to me,” he said. “The way I look at golf now, as compared to when I was younger, is that there’s no pressure. I’m much more relaxed.
A word to the wise. If you’re competing against a proven winner who is relaxed and feels no pressure: Beware.
The FSGA has announced changes to the women’s One-Day tournaments. Henceforth, entrants will have an option to play from the longer tees set up for a 5,700-yard course, or the short tees set at approximately 5,200 yards.
Entrants will be able to choose their own groups to play in and players within that group are able to play from the tees they selected. The prize purse will be $10 for each player registered to play in their tee group. Prize distribution for both groups will be 60 percent for net and 40 percent for gross.
David and Jeremy Pena are accepting congratulations for their outstanding winning performance in the Florida State Parent-Child Championship. Their total of 64-65 – 129 was three shots clear of Dwight and Griffin Pickett, who started with a 69 and charged back with a closing round 63 for a 132 total.
In the Boys’ Junior Match Play Championship, Clearwater’s Jake Kevorkian IV won his first state championship by defeating Tampa’s Lucas Trim in the finals 4 and 3 at Wyndemere Country Club in Naples.