The Winning Score Was 144
The Country Club of Winter Haven marked the first Winter Series event of the New Year. The players were faced with perfect weather resulting in some low scores. In the Mid-Amateur division, Wayne Raath, of Lakeland, overcame a four stroke deficit to capture his first Winter Series victory. A quarterfinalist in the 2016 Mid-Amateur Championship, Raath posted a 74 in round one followed by a two under-par 70 in the final round. With an even par total, Wayne won by two strokes. Robbie Sisca (72-74) and Jaime Girardi (74-72) tied for second place with a 146 total. Tim Gavrich fell to tie Ben Kodadek in fifth place and Andy Green, of Wesley Chapel, finished in fourth with a 151 total.
Neil Vanleeuwen, of Tarpon Springs, carded two consistent rounds to move from third place after day one to a final first place finish in the Senior division! Kevin Macy, a familiar name at the top, shot an impressive four under-par 68 to sit in first place heading into the final round. Macy’s 68 was the tournament low due in part to a double eagle on the 11th hole. A second round 77 moved Macy into second place with a 145 total. Vanleeuwen followed up his first round 73 with a one under-par 71 to win by one stroke at a 144 total. Rounding out the top three was Tom Norton who posted a red 70 in round one and 76 final round for a 146 total. One stroke separated first, second, and third place.
A round one 69 seized a wire-to-wire first place finish for Jim Stone, of Bradenton, in the Super-Senior division. Stone finished with a 144 even par total after a final round 75 to win by two strokes. Jerry Young, of New Port Richey, posted a first round one under-par 71 and second round 75 to finish in second place. Four strokes back finished Bruce Moskovciak, of Jacksonville, with rounds of 77-71—148.
The Winter Series is for players 25 years and older, and runs from late November through early March. Players will compete in one of three age divisions (25-54, 55-64 and 65 & Over) based on their age for the final event. A season long points list is kept through the winter earning players exemptions into 2017 FSGA State Championships. The next stop in the Winter Series is at Stone Creek Golf Club, in Ocala, January 29-30.