Pano and Wilkes Put the "Win" in Winter Haven
The Country Club of Winter Haven welcomed the Florida Junior Tour with open arms this weekend! Superintendent, David Levin, had the golf course in phenomenal condition for the players and Head Golf Professional, Josh Anderson, and the rest of the staff were very gracious hosts!
Winter Haven member, Gage Carnes, got off to a hot start in Saturday’s opening round. Gage used his local knowledge to post an opening round 3-under par, 69. However, it was Tampa resident Cooper Smith who took the first round lead after Saturday’s play was all said and done. Cooper’s impressive 4-under par round was enough to put him ahead of the 46 players in the boys’ division. Among those players chasing Cooper were 2016 Boys’ Junior Champion, Fred Biondi, and recent Florida Junior Tour winners Brendan Valdes and Tyler Wilkes.
Tyler Wilkes did not waste any time during Sunday’s final round to close the six stroke gap between him and Cooper. Tyler made seven birdies in his final round before finishing with a double bogey on the 18th hole for a closing round 5-under par, 67. Cooper and Gage did their best to continue to make pars, but bogeys early on in their rounds derailed their opportunities to take home the first place trophy this weekend. With all those birdies, one would imagine Tyler would run away with the victory on Sunday, but Justin Ortiguera had other ideas. Justin’s final round, 68, was enough to put him in a tie with Tyler at the top of the leaderboard. Tyler and Justin went to the 18th hole for a playoff to determine the Champion. Tyler was able to get revenge on the par-5, 18th, making a birdie to Justin’s par to claim his second Florida Junior Tour victory of the 2016 season.
Karoline Tuttle in the girls’ division started off incredibly strong yet again this weekend. Karoline set the pace on Saturday with a 1-over par, 73, giving her a one stroke lead over Juliana Camargo. Both Karoline and Juliana have been so close to winning their first Florida Junior Tour events all year as Karoline had posted three, third place finishes and Juliana had posted three, second place finishes heading into this weekend! Karoline and Juliana were not the only talented players near the top of the leaderboard after the opening round. The 2015 FJT Tour Championship winner, Mimi Chen, was lurking only two shots off the lead, recent FJT winner at Riomar, Emily Staples, was only three shots off the lead and four time winner on the FJT this year, Alexa Pano!
Sunday morning came around and Alexa Pano had the same mentality as Tyler Wilkes did in the boys’ division. Alexa played extremely well on Sunday, posting the only under par round in the girls’ division all weekend! Her 2-under par, 70, jolted her into the clubhouse lead on Sunday with one group left to come in to scoring! Juliana Camargo and Karoline Tuttle were in the last girls group of the tournament and all eyes were waiting to see if they would claim their first FJT victories! Karoline and Juliana closed with respective rounds of 76 and 79 and were unable to take home the first place hardware this weekend! Mimi Chen was able to post a very solid 1-over par final round to jump into second place, three strokes behind Alexa. Karoline rounded out the top 3, finishing four strokes off the lead!
A big thank you goes out to The Country Club of Winter Haven for hosting the Florida Junior Tour this weekend, October 15-16, 2016. We look forward to returning to Winter Haven in April of 2017 for another Florida Junior Tour event!