TJ Shuart Match Play King
Round of 32 matches kicked off Friday afternoon at Sara Bay Country Club after the final round of stroke play was completed to determine the 32 seeds. Number one seed, Jon Veneziano, advanced straight to the Round of 16 with a default win against Matthew Lindhal, number 32 seed. T J Shuart (4th seed), who dominated in match play format winning the 2015 Match Play Championship, moved on to the next round with a four and three win over Steve Sponder (29th seed). Joe Alfieri, fifth seed, defeated Steve Carter, 28th seed, to face Bill Casteleman, 21st seed, in the Round of 16. Matthew Giovannelli was seeded in the second spot but could not hold on to advance further being beat by Kyle Thomas, 31st seed in the first round of matches. Will Sprague and Drew Bleakley, number 27 and 30 seed respectively advanced to the Round of 16 after winning matches lasting longer than 18 holes.
Sixteen players arrived at Sara Bay early Saturday morning to play the first match of the day followed by the Quarterfinal matches in the afternoon. Veneziano continued his winning streak and moved on to the Quarterfinal matches where he would defeat Edward Kenny, two up, to advance to the Semifinals. T J Shuart followed in the same pattern and was faced with a tough match against Alfieri in the Quarterfinals. Shuart moved forward with a one-up win over Alfieri to play on Sunday. Brian Armstrong, of Tampa, played 21 holes to earn a victory over Ryan Abbate in the Round of 16 and beat tough competitor Rick Woulfe in the Quarterfinals, three and two. Drew Bleakley and Will Sprague each won their Round of 16 match to meet in the Quarterfinals where Sprague would advance after a 26 hole battle.
The Semifinal Matches began Sunday with the first seed, Jon Veneziano, against fourth seed, T J Shuart. In the lower bracket number seven seed Brian Armstrong would square off against 27th seed Will Sprague. Shuart started the round with a one-up lead after the second hole and Veneziano could not seem to catch up. Shuart seized his spot in the Finals after two birdies on holes ten and eleven to lead him to a six and five win. The Armstrong and Sprague match saw Armstrong dominating from the first hole. Armstrong did not let the lead out of his sight and finished the match on the 14th hole with a five and four victory. Shuart and Armstrong would face off at 12:00 PM to crown the Mid-Amateur Champion.
The Finals was marked by an up and down match for the first nine-holes. Armstrong took the early lead after a birdie on the first hole but the match would go to all-square after Shuart birdied the third hole. The match remained even up to the ninth hole when Shuart carded a birdie and sealed a one-up lead heading into the final nine holes. The tenth hole was won with a par by Shuart ,who would play the next three holes two-up, and a birdie by Armstrong on the 14th hole reduced Shuart’s lead to one-up. Another par by Shuart won the sixteenth hole and Armstrong would enter the final two holes two-down. Shuart sealed his victory with a birdie on the final hole, number 17, versus a bogey by Armstrong. A three and one victory for Shuart, of Fort Lauderdale, makes him match play king winning both the 2015 Match Play Championship and Mid-Amateur Championship.