Chase Seiffert arrived back on the Florida State campus a week ago. If one of his instructors asked him to write an essay on how he spent his summer vacation, it would have been thrown back into his face with the professor crying “Fiction.”
By the way, no one could have disputed the professor’s response. After all, asking anyone to buy into the claim that Seiffert won Florida’s State Amateur championship, the Florida Open and the State Amateur Match Play championship would be laughable. Except for one minor fact – he did. No one previously had won the Florida trifecta in one year – ever.
You can’t blame the non-believers because no one has come close to performing like this Florida amateur did.
Did his plan work? Only to perfection. When the dust settled Sunday afternoon at the State Am, only one player finished below par, and that was Seiffert at 1-under 287. That proved to be a four-stroke bulge on Joe Alfieri (remember that name for later).
“That was the one I wanted,” he said. “I was really relieved after that.”
Let’s pick up the story at the Ritz Carlton Members Club and the Florida Open. Traditionally, state opens are the sites where grizzled veterans gather to teach fuzzy-cheeked kids a lesson. Yeah, it’s a feeding place for sharks.
After recording scores of 66-64-63–193 for a nine-stroke margin of victory on Chase Marinell, it was game, set, match. Marinell cashed the check, but after the money is spent – and it will be – Seiffert will be the Chase whose name is in the record book.
“I really worked hard before the tournament” Seiffert said. “And once we started, I was very focused. When I needed to make a putt, or a tough shot, I did. I was pretty much in control of my game.”
Seiffert now had a month to wait before the Match Play event. It was going to be his chance at Florida golf immortality. It would be inhuman to not feel the pressure.
“There was no pressure that I wanted to win,” he recalled. “To have come this close and not finish would have been disappointing.”
Okay, Seiffert won. Trust me, it was in all the papers. However, the final day that included the semi and final matches put one of the all-time exclamation points on a tournament victory. In the semis, Seiffert was knocking heads with Alfieri going into the back nine.
There’s shifting gears and there’s this. Seiffert stepped onto the 13th tee 1-up. He proceeded to ensure a quick walk to the 14th tee when he scored a hole-in-one. It took a little more time to decide the 14th. His birdie lessened the wait. The fait accompli, or in-your-face moment came minutes later when Seiffert eagled the 15th, leaving Alfieri as stunned as Apollo Creed in Rocky II.
Seiffert, a senior on the Florida State golf team, squared off against Seminole incoming freshman Hank Lebioda in the finals. To Lebioda’s credit, he showed ’Noles coach Trey Jones that he’s going to have a player.
Lebioda withstood an early barrage when Seiffert opened with a pair of birdies. They stepped on the 10th tee all-square. When Lebioda’s head stopped spinning, Seiffert had closed out the championship with one of the great tours de force of all time.
Did we mention it was also his 21st birthday?
“It was the second hole-in-one I’ve ever made and the first in competition,” he said. “I made the first one on my birthday too.” (Memo to self … don’t set a match with Chase Seiffert on Aug. 12 … any year.)
“I really wanted the Match Play,” Seiffert said. “I had a chance to be the first to win all three. I still don’t think it has all sunk in. It was a great summer.”
As Seiffert quickly will learn, with success comes responsibility. Notice was taken in the athletic department in Tallahassee
“He’s a better player now,” opined Coach Jones. “He can shoot a low score and instead of backing off at a level, he can keep going.”
Jones has seen a steady maturation process with Seiffert.
“A kid comes out of high school and goes to junior college,” Jones explained, “and he has to adapt. If he adapts, he goes on to college, a much higher level.
“Some stop there and some keep going. This year we want to see how Chase adapts to different courses, different grasses and a different lifestyle. This will tell if he can rise to the next level.”
Don’t worry coach, Seiffert will be with you until the end of the year. The plan is to walk on graduation day. The pros can wait.
“Mom Rules,” Seiffert said. “I’ll try it later, but Mom says I have to get my degree.”
Don’t worry, Mom. You’ll be proud of your son on that day and it’s trending to many Sundays in the future.
If you happen to be teeing it up in Ponte Vedre Beach and see Ken Moody, be sure to congratulate him on his recent win in the Florida Mid-Senior.
To capture the title, Moody had to par the first playoff hole to defeat Glenn Pryzybylski from Frankfurt, Ky. The players were tied at 1-under par after 36 holes in the rain-shortened event held at the Longboat Key Club.
Tied for third were Apopka’s Doug Snoap and R.J. Nakashian from Palm Beach Gardens.