You would think that for a tournament with the prestige of the Women’s International Four-Ball, the players would break the door down to make sure their entries were received and in order. Believe it or not, quite the opposite was the case. It reached the point where the tournament organizers threw in the towel and the Florida State Golf Association picked it up. “After the event last year,” explained FSGA Women’s Director Meghan Martinek, “(they) asked us to run it starting this year. I’m happy to say that the field is full.” So, for the first time in a while, there will be 48 teams of varying skill levels drawn to The Wanderers Club in Wellington to compete in a venerable, prestigious event. This is part of the women’s contributions to the FSGA’s centennial celebration. “It’s our goal to strengthen existing tournaments and add to their prestige,” Martinek said. “In addition, we’ve added a Women’s Mid-Amateur this year and made some schedule changes.” The biggest change has been to move the Women’s Amateur Championship to June. That falls in line with their efforts to enhance existing events. “This will open up the Championship to our better college players,” said Martinek. “In the past the Championship was earlier and conflicted with college and high school schedules.”
Davenport’s Erica Popson captured the 58th Harder Hall Invitational. The University of Tennessee senior All-American, who will turn professional following the NCAA Championship, posted scores of 71, 70, 73 and 68 for a 6-underpar 282 total, one shot ahead of 13-year old Mika Liu of Bradenton. Popson took the final-round lead when she birdied the 11th and Liu bogied. Popson extended her advantage with a birdie on 13, but both were all square on the 18th. Popson secured her victory by holing an eight-foot birdie putt on the final green.
Congratulations are definitely in order for Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club. The course opened its gates in 1925 and is the first 18-hole Florida golf course to be listed by the National Park Service on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by Tom Bendelow, the course is still true to the original design. The figure-eight routing remains, with both the ninth and 18th holes still ending at the clubhouse. There are still roads that were used by cars so their passengers could follow a golf tournament. More importantly for Florida’s marriage to golf, Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club was one of the first courses in the country at which a community was built around a golf course. The key was, the golf course preceded the residential and therefore got the best land. You may have noticed that doesn’t happen very often any more.
Bradenton’s Jordan Miller left the field in his dust when he backed up an opening round 1-under 71 with a blistering 7-under-par 65 for a five-stroke win in the Florida Junior Tour event held at Brooksville CC at Majestic Oaks. Tampa’s Jimmy Stanger finished second at 141, one stroke ahead of third-place finisher Henry Westmoreland from Wacissa. The more things change on the Girls scoreboard, the more they stay the same. Orlando’s Yueer Feng seemed to be playing a different course than the rest of the field. Feng opened with a 2-under-par 70 and backed it up with a flawless 4-under-par 68 for a 6-under-par 138 total.
This only left runner-up Kristine Odaiyar from Ocala a mere 12 shots astern of the lead. Dylan Kim of Winter Garden finished solo third, another two shots behind.
At Deer Island in Tavares, Davie’s Tyler Strafaci won for the second time in his past three FJT starts. Strafaci had to rally when he started the second round one behind Orlando’s Sully Zagerman and Manuel Girona. Strafaci broke from the pack with a 3-under-par 69. Sagerman closed with an even-par 72 to finish alone in second place. Lakeland’s Amanda Gartrell could have felt that she was playing for second after falling four shots behind Gabriella Coello from Orlando. Instead Gartrell came fighting back with six birdies in the final round and posted a 2 under 70, the only subpar round in the Girls Division in the Sunday round. Seminole’s Alyssa Lamoureux climbed into second place, seven shots behind.