How About Them Gators?
On a day guaranteed for phenomenal and exciting golf, J.C. Deacon delivered nothing less. This morning, the leaderboard was jumbled with everyone attempting to chase down J.C. Deacon for the title of 71st Florida Open Champion, however, with yet another stellar performance, J.C. Deacon prevailed to claim the title.
Playing the Quarry Course for the final round, 61 of Florida's top amateur and professional golfers teed it up hoping to beat the rain and move up on the leaderboard. With past champions such as Caleb Johnson, Joe Alfieri, and Rod Perry in the field, the final round was going to be a show to watch. The final pairing off the first tee featured the three men who excelled the opening 36 holes to earn their well-deserved spot in the 9:10 A.M. pairing. After an exciting round of golf, however, it was J.C. Deacon who out lasted the competition to hoist the Florida Open Champion trophy.
Starting off consistent with three consecutive pars, Deacon made his first birdie on the par-five fourth hole. However, after a hiccup on the sixth hole which included a crucial up-and-down, Deacon would drop two and have a three-shot swing with playing partner, Matt Borchert. With Borchert shooting consecutive 68's the past two days, J.C. knew he had to make birdies to regain the lead and win the championship.
On the short par-four seventh hole, J.C. brought out the driver and took a direct shot at the flagstick. With an incredibly accurate drive, Deacon drove the green off the tee and left himself approximately 30 feet for an eagle. Looking better than most, Deacon rolled in the eagle putt to get himself back to one-under for the day and in a tie for the lead yet again. Using his length to his advantage, Deacon just missed his eagle putt on the ninth hole to tap in for a birdie that would regain him the leading heading into the final nine and Quarry holes.
While all eyes were on Deacon, Matt Borchert made a charge for the top and made the final few holes of the championship nail-biters. Borchert opened his back nine with two birdies, one on hole ten and another on hole 12, whereas Deacon salvaged only one birdie on the eleventh. Heading into the Quarry, holes 13 through 17, the stage was set and it was going to be a close finish. After matching with pars on the par-three, 13th, and birdies on the par-five 14th, Borchert would move into a tie for first with Deacon after tapping in a birdie putt on the par-four 15th after sticking his approach shot to three feet. The two gentlemen remained tied after both parred the 16th hole with two-putt pars. Then they came to the par-three 17th hole.
Borchert hit first, and short-sided his shot, leaving him with a near-impossible up-and-down. With no idea of the situation Borchert faced, Deacon hit his tee shot just short of the ridge in the middle of the green, leaving him with a forty-foot putt for birdie. Borchert chipped his next shot 20-feet past the hole, opening the window for Deacon to take the outright lead heading into the final hole. With too much speed, however, Deacon's birdie putt finished ten feet past the hole, leaving him a quick slider back down the slope. Borchert was up to play next and his par putt just slid past the hole, leaving him with a knee-knocking five-foot sliding putt back up the hill for bogey. Deacon, uncharacteristically, missed his par putt, making him card his first three-putt of the day. While it looked as if Borchert was going to be one back heading into the final hole, Borchert lipped out not only his bogey putt, but his double-bogey putt to card a triple-bogey, six, on the 17th hole to give J.C. a two-shot lead on the eighteenth.
With perfect drives on the final hole, Borchert was up to play first. Proving he wasn't going to let J.C. win the Florida Open with ease, Borchert hit a remarkable second shot into the par-five, 18th hole, leaving him a seven-foot putt for eagle. Even though Deacon was not able to see where Borchert's ball ended up from the fairway, Deacon knew it was close with the roar that came from the green. Now it was up to J.C. Deacon to trust his game and go for the tucked pin on the final hole to clinch the championship. Deacon's second shot ended up landing on the backside of the green before rolling into the rough ten yards long. With an up-and-down for birdie, Deacon would win the championship by one shot.
Showing no signs of nerves, Deacon chipped his ball and just missed the hole, leaving him with a three-foot putt for birdie and the coveted title of "champion". Borchert was away and rolled in his eagle putt to finish with his third consecutive round of four-under, 68, and finish the 71st Florida Open with a 12-under par total. Stepping up to his ball, Deacon rolled in his birdie putt to shoot a four-under round of 68, and win the Florida Open by one-shot over Borchert.
J.C. Deacon won the 71st Florida Open with a 13-under par total of 203 and won by one shot over fellow professional Matt Borchert. The University of Florida Head Coach walked away with not only the trophy to display in his office in Gainesville, but also a check for $15,000 that was to be awarded to the top finishing professional.
The 71st Florida Open displayed two low-amateurs this week, Mid-Amateur Champion Chip Brooke and Nova Southeastern Head Coach, Christopher Carlin. Both gentlemen finished the event with a four-under par total finish which was good enough for a tie for seventh place overall.
The 71st Florida Open, hosted by Black Diamond Ranch, provided a close finish with University of Florida's Head Coach, J.C. Deacon coming out on top, proving he could not just coach well, but play incredibly too.