Biondi and Pellot Steal Victories
The 13-15 Age Division of the Florida Junior Tour traveled to Port Saint Lucie on November 12-13 to take on the difficult Santa Lucia River Club course. The weather was absolutely spectacular, but the difficult greens gave players fits all weekend.
The opening round of play saw an overall stroke average of 83.7, one of the highest scoring averages we have seen during the 2016 season. A difficult stretch of holes on the front nine gave the girls’ division all they could handle during Saturday’s round. At the end of the day, three girls were tied atop the leaderboard after posting rounds of 6-over par, 78. Co-leaders Izzy Pellot and Tianyi Zhuang have been looking for their first Florida Junior Tour victories all season long. Izzy has finished inside the top 3, two times already in the 2016 season! Alyssa Mercado was also tied with Izzy and Tianyi after the first round of play. Alyssa is already a Florida Junior Tour winner as she won her first FJT event back in April at Lemon Bay Golf Club in Englewood.
Brendan Valdes in the boys’ division had the most impressive round on the course on Saturday. Brendan has played well all season long and is looking for his second FJT victory this year after taking home the win at Riomar CC in Vero Beach just two months ago. Brendan fired the only non over par round of the day, an even par 72, which gave him a two stroke lead over a number of players. Allan Kournikova, Coleman Barnes, Justin Lilly and Brett Roberts all posted rounds of 2-over par, 74, to put them in a tie for second place behind Brendan. Allan Kournikova has posted a number of good rounds this year and he has been looking to put together two solid rounds in a row to lead him to victory. Another big name not far off the lead after round one was Fred Biondi. Fred, the 2016 Junior Player of the Year, posted an opening round 3-over par, 75, and would definitely pose to be a threat come Sunday’s final round. Fred has not finished outside of the top 4 in any FJT event this year while also stacking up two Florida Junior Tour victories and wining the Boys’ Junior Amateur Championship in July at World Golf Village.
The second round on Sunday looked relatively similar to the opening round in the girls’ division. After shooting an opening round of 80, Taylor Roberts posted the low round of the tournament for the girls firing a 4-over par, 76. Taylor’s impressive final round was enough to propel her into a tie for fourth place for the tournament. The final group of the day in the girls’ division provided plenty of excitement during the closing holes. First round co-leader, Izzy Pellot, started off very strong on her opening nine. Izzy went out in 1-over par, 37, on her front nine and opened up a nice lead for herself heading into the final nine holes of the tournament. However, back to back double bogeys on her 14th and 15th holes opened the door for Tianyi Zhuang, Alyssa Mercado, and Victoria Hwang to make a run. Izzy was able to settle in down the closing stretch and came into the final hole with a one stroke lead over Tiayi Zhuang and Victoria Hwang. The trio of girls all made par on the final hole and this gave Izzy her first Florida Junior Tour victory!
A very tight leaderboard after round one made for a close finish in the boys’ division on Sunday. First round leader, Brendan Valdes, did not have the magic he did in Saturday’s round and was unable to hold onto two stroke lead. Early bogeys for Brendan allowed a number of players to make a run to the top of the leaderboard. One of these players doing their best to make some birdies and climb the leaderboard was Thomas Salanito. Thomas played an extremely impressive round making two birdies and only one bogey to shoot the lowest round of the event, a 1-under par, 71. Thomas and Jonathan Mourin were the only two players to shoot under par the whole weekend as Jonathan also posted a final round 71 on Sunday. Two other players also tried their best to gain solo possession of the lead during the final round of play. Brett Roberts and DJ Francey battled hard and posted very solid rounds to finish the tournament with a total of 6-over par, 150, tied with Thomas. DJ was cruising along nicely until stumbling with a double bogey on the par 4, 18th hole, leading to an even-par round of 72. At the end of the day, it was Fred Biondi who did enough on the course to bring home his third Florida Junior Tour victory of the year. Fred had an up and down day on Sunday as his round included four birdies, 4 bogeys, and one double bogey. His final round 74 was enough to give him a two day total of 5-over par, 149, and a one stroke victory! Fred will be attending the FSGA Annual Dinner on Friday, November 18th, in recognition for becoming the 2016 FSGA Junior Player of the Year!
The Santa Lucia River Club did an absolutely fantastic job all weekend preparing the golf course and welcoming the junior golfers and their families. The Florida Junior Tour will be headed to Timacuan Golf and Country Club in Lake Mary on December 3-4. This is the last event before the 2016 Tour Championship at the beautiful Adena Golf and Country Club!