Samuelsson & Biondi Boys' Jr Champs
The 62nd Boys’ Junior Championship kicked off Wednesday at World Golf Village - King & Bear Course and St. Johns Golf & Country Club in Saint Augustine. Players in both the 16-18 & 13-15 Age Division will play one round on each golf course Wednesday and Thursday, then the field will be cut to the low 50 & ties in the 16-18 Age Division, and low 20 & ties in the 13-15 Age Division for the final round at World Golf Village - King & Bear.
The field is highlighted by 2015 Boys’ Junior Champion and University of North Carolina Signee Austin Hitt, and 2015 FSGA Boys’ Junior Player of The Year Brandon Mancheno in the 16-18 Age Division. Joseph Pagdin highlights the 13-15 Age Division, he is a two-time Future Masters Champion, and has three Florida Junior Tour victories including the 2015 FJT Tour Championship and 2016 FJT Major.
Boys 16-18 Age Division
Defending Champion Austin Hitt, of Longwood & Manuel Girona, of Windermere share the opening round lead at the 62nd Boys’ Junior after opening with a 67 (-5) at St. Johns Golf & Country Club. Both player’s round included seven birdies and two bogeys, with Girona having a stretch of four in a row from 11-14. The pair lead Zach Justice & 2015 FSGA Junior Player of the Year Brandon Mancheno by one stroke, after both opened with 68 (-4).
Austin Hitt fired a low round of four-under par to be the lone leader heading into the final round. Hitt carded three birdies on both his front and back nine to finish in first (135 total) over Chris Nido, of Palmetto Bay. After a first round 69, Nido had four birdies in a row on holes two through five and ended the day with an eagle on the par five 18th hole for a 136 total. Anthony Muttillo, Linus Samuelsson, and Manuel Girona tied for third place with a two round total of 138. Advancing to the final round are 51 players with a two round total of six over-par (150) or better.
Linus Samuelsson, of Heathrow, overcame a three stroke deficit to win by two strokes with a 12 under-par 204 total! Samuelsson’s final round scorecard was filled with red numbers, including four birdies on each the front and back nine for a six under-par, 66. Three impressive rounds in the red, 69-69-66, moved Linus into first place for his first FSGA Championship victory. Chris Nido remained in second place after a final round 70 and ten under-par total of 206. Nido eagled the par five, fifth hole to turn at 35 and finished with four birdies on his last nine holes. First and second round leader, Austin Hitt, carded a one over-par final round to fall to third place at 208 (-8). Austin Aliff and Manual Girona finished tied for fourth place with a seven under-par 209 total.
Boys 13-15 Age Division
Fred Biondi, of Port Saint Lucie went out in 67 (-5) to take a one-stroke lead over Fletcher Wunderlich, Nicholas Gabrelcik & Gray Albright. Biondi’s opening round card would have only one blemish, a bogey on the 17th, which he quickly answered by making an eagle on the par-5 18th. Biondi has come out on top in his only two Florida Juinor Tour starts in 2016, winning at Ocala National in April and Indian Spring in May.
An impressive second round of 67 (-5) propelled Eric Berggren, of Windermere, into first place. Berggren’s started the day strong with four birdies on the front nine, three in a row on holes five through seven, and finished with two birdies and one lone bogey on the back nine. No stranger to competition, Eric finished in the top ten in his Florida Junior Tour starts in 2016, including one win at River Wilderness in February. There is a tight race at the top of the learderboard with Berggren leading by one stroke (138 total) followed by Joseph Pagdin in second place (139 total). The field was cut at three over-par, 147, and 22 players advanced to the final round.
After falling from his first round lead with a less than stellar second round, Fred Biondi came from behind to capture his first FSGA Championship win! Fred had a flawless scorecard on the front nine with birdies on holes five, six, and eight for a three under-par 33. He started his back nine with birdies on holes 10, 12, and 13 but had some trouble on the 16th hole scoring a double bogey. With determination to make up for the 16th hole, Fred birdied his last two holes for a final round five under-par, 67. Biondi captured the victory finishing with a six under-par 210 total. Two strokes behind (212 total), Joseph Pagdin, of Orlando, finished in second place followed by Gray Albright in third place with a 213 total. The top five finishers were in red numbers including Nicholas Gabrelcik and Fletcher Wunderlich who tied for fourth place at two under-par, 214.