Southeastern Challenge Team Finalized
Beginning October 21st, twelve of Florida's finest amateur golfers will represent "The Sunshine State" at this year's Southeastern Challenge. Competing against squads from Alabama and Georgia, the Florida team looks to bring back the title for the fourth consecutive time. The Florida men will get the opportunity to compete on home soil as The Bear's Club has agreed to host this prestigious event. The Bear's Club, home of Jack Nicklaus, has hosted multiple Florida State Golf Association events with the 100th Amateur being the most recent.
The Bear's Club will be a test of not only one's golf skills but mental game as well. Lined with fescue and strategically placed bunkers, those individuals who had the opportunity to play in the 100th Amateur will have an advantage when they tee it up for the first round October 21st. "The Bear's Club is one of the best courses in Florida and we are very fortunate to be able to compete out there," Florida member Christopher Carlin said. "I was able to play the State Amateur out there, like many of my Florida teammates, and that will definitely serve us well at the Southeastern Challenge. I am really looking forward to representing Florida and the venue will make it a really special event."
In all, eight mid-amateurs and four seniors were selected to make up the Florida team, and each brings a wealth of competitive knowledge and an impressive golf resume.
Chip Brooke, of Altamonte Springs, was the 2016 Mid-Amateur Champion, Low Amateur at 2017 Florida Open, Semifinalist at 2017 USGA Four-Ball, Semifinalist at 2017 Mid-Amateur, and Quarterfinalist at 2017 Amateur Match Play. He too, like Nicklaus, competed in the 100th Amateur Championship at The Bear's Club. Brooke's dominating summer brings him momentum coming into the SE Challenge.
Marc Dull, of Winter Haven, was the 2015 US Mid-Amateur Runner-Up, Semifinalist at 2017 US Four-Ball with Chip Brooke, Semifinalist at 2017 Amateur Match Play, and Quarterfinalist 2017 Mid-Amateur. Dull's summer was highlighted by being a semifinalist, along with fellow SE Challenge partner, Chip Brooke, at the U.S. Four-Ball Championship. His electrifying summer will make him a favorite and key player for the Florida squad.
Joe Alfieri, of Lutz, was the 2015 & 2016 FSGA Player of the Year, 2016 Concession Cup Team Member, Semifinalist at 2016 & 2017 Mid-Amateur, Runner-Up 2017 Four-Ball, and 2016 Amateur Public Links Champion. A familiar face to victory, Alflieri competed on the victorious Florida team in the 2015 Southeastern Challenge as well as the 1998 & 2000 squad. His past experiences will prove essential in leading the team to yet another victory.
Christopher Carlin, of Plantation, was the 2016 Amateur Match Play Champion, 2016 Four-Ball Champion, and the 2017 Mid-Amateur Four-Ball Champion (South). Carlin, the Head Coach at Nova Southeastern University, played excellently the past two years, which included two FSGA Championships. Carlin competed in the 2017 Florida Open where he finished in a tie for seventh after shooting three consecutive under-par rounds. Carlin's familiarity with a team environment will be essential for Team Florida.
Robert Bechtol, of Tallahassee, won the 2017 Mid-Amateur Championship. Bechtol finished the stroke play rounds of the Mid-Amateur in seventh place, but after defeating two of his Southeastern Challenge teammates, he hoisted the trophy. Bechtol's accuracy and short game will make him a favorite amongst the Florida squad.
Kelly Sellers, of Lakeland, won the 2017 Four-Ball Championship after defeating multiple Team Florida members. Sellers is one of Team Florida's most consistent players and competed in the 100th Amateur Championship in June. Both these factors will help him lead Team Florida to a good outing at the Southeastern Challenge.
Tyler Shook, of Jupiter, was the runner-up at 2017 Mid-Amateur Championship after falling to fellow team member, Robert Bechtol. Shook finished in a tie for 22nd at the 100th Amateur Championship after shooting a final round, one over-par, 73. Shook, in the 2017 Mid-Amateur, cruised through match play before meeting Chip Brooke in the semifinals. Prevailing after needing 20 holes to clinch the victory, Shook faced Bechtol. Shook's excellent play throughout the summer will make him a key player for the Florida team.
Gary Nicklaus, of Jupiter, finished tied for 22nd at the 100th Amateur Championship, which included a one under-par round of 71 for the final day. He has also finished runner-up twice in the Mid-Amateur Four-Ball South Championship. With his extensive knowledge of the course, Nicklaus will prove to be a major asset to the Florida team this year.
In all, four senior players earned their respective spots on the Southeastern Challenge team. Between the four senior players, there is a wealth of FSGA Championships, which will prove to be beneficial at this year's Southeastern Challenge.
Peter Wegmann, of Fort Lauderdale, highlights the senior squad at the Southeastern Challenge. He was the champion at the 2016 Senior Match Play Championship before finishing runner-up this year. He also won the Senior Amateur Championship in 2016. Wegmann is a FSGA veteran and brings extensive knowledge to the Florida squad. His knowledge and previous successes will make him the one to beat at The Bear's Club.
Owen Joyner, of Bonita Springs, won the 2017 Senior Amateur Match Play Championship, defeating fellow team member, Peter Wegmann, in the final match. Joyner also competed in the 100th Amateur Championship, which will give him the upper hand against his opponents during the Southeastern Challenge. His course knowledge and his exquisite short game will make him difficult to beat.
Rick Woulfe, of Fort Lauderdale, perhaps is FSGA's most decorated player. He was this year's stroke play medalist at the Mid-Amateur Championship and finished in second during the stroke play rounds of the Senior Amateur Match Play Championship. He qualified for the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship and has been named FSGA's Player of the Year three times and FSGA's Senior Player of the Year nine times. This will be Woulfe's 15th time representing Florida in the Southeastern Challenge and has participated in every event since 1991.
R J Nakashian, of Palm Beach, won the 2016 Mid-Senior Championship, the 2016 Mid-Senior Four-Ball Championship, and the 2016 Mid-Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Due to weather, Nakashian has not been able to attempt to defend his title at the Mid-Senior Championship this year. Nakashian is no stranger to the Southeastern Challenge as he competed on the victorious Florida Team in the 2010 Southeastern Challenge. His previous knowledge of knowing what it takes to win a Southeastern Challenge will be vital to this year's team.
In all, the Team Florida for the 2017 Southeastern Challenge team is stacked with talent and there is no shortage of accolades between these twelve men. Each of the twelve men that make up the Florida squad are coming to The Bear's Club having seen the course before at the 100th Amateur Championship. With this, they will have a definite advantage over Teams Georgia and Alabama. The 2017 Southeastern Challenge will begin with four-ball matches in the morning of October 21st with foursome three-ball matches wrapping up in the afternoon. Sunday, October 22nd, will feature morning three-ball matches before a champion is crowned.