Manatee & Sarasota Counties had the privilege of being the host location for the well-known 101st Amateur Golf Championship the weekend of June 21st-June 24th.
The potential competitors played in 14 qualifying events around the state. 168 of Florida’s best amateur golfers then competed in a 36-hole round of stroke play, with the players scoring in the low 70’s moving onto the next round.
Those golfers headed to play one round at the prestigious courses of the Ritz Carlton Member’s Club in Sarasota and one round at the Concession Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch, FL.
Three players tied in an early lead at the Ritz Carlton at 67 (-5); 2018 mid-amateur champion, Marc Dull, Boy’s Junior Champion, Fred Biondi, and Corey Carlson. Round two at the Concession Course proved to be exciting with Tyler Wilkes, another Boy’s Junior Champion being the only golfer to score under-par at this challenging course. Wilkes finished round one tied for fourth place with Chip Brooke, who is listed third on the FSGA points list.
Marc Dull took the lead heading into the final two rounds by one stroke over Fred Biondi who came out at 73. Previous champion Gabriel Lench pulled forward at (-1). The group was then cut to just 71 players at 144 (+10) or better, to move on to the final two days of tough competition.
The third round on Saturday saw Marc Dull take a six-stroke lead, to then bogey holes 15, 16 and 18 to end up with a three-stroke lead at 74. Lench played an impressive game, ending with four birdies and a 73 for the day. Lench in striving for his second Amateur Championship win after his 2014 win.
In the final round, Dull was off to a bumpy start, making four bogeys and a double-bogey to finish four over par. Lench, close behind, made one birdie in the front nine, leaving him with an even-par. In the final nine holes, Dull carded four birdies and five pars to finish with a fantastic even par 72. Lench however, closed the gap on Dull with three birdies on the back nine for a final of 69. Lench and Dull finished the 101st Amateur Championship tied for the lead at 285 (-3)!
The weather in Lakewood Ranch took a turn, causing Lench and Dull to sit on their tied game for a two and a half hour delay. The two then went head-to-head in a sudden death playoff for the title. On the second playoff hole, Lench two-putted for par, while Dull three-putted for a bogey, making Gabriel Lench the 101st Amateur Champion and earning his second Championship Victory!
The Florida State Amateur Championship is one of the oldest and most prestigious amateur golf championships in the country. This year the Amateur will head to The Concession Golf Club and Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Bradenton. The Concession Golf Club is an immaculate golf course designed by the famous Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. The Concession Golf Club hosted the 2015 NCAA Division I Championship and will host the Concession Cup this April when Team USA faces off against the team from Great Britain and Ireland.