Biondi Repeats and Wilkes Steals Show
On a day guaranteed for exciting golf, Fred Biondi and Tyler Wilkes delivered. Today's final round of the 63rd Boys' Junior Amateur Championship was conducted at Bent Pine Golf Club in Vero Beach and featured the best male junior golfers from the state of Florida. Before the day began, Fred Biondi had the opportunity to join only two other golfers that won the 13-15 age division and then the 16-18 age division the next year. The last time someone did that was in 1967 and 1968 when Gary Koch won the 13-15 age division then defended his title in the 16-18 division the following year. Tyler Wilkes, on the other hand, had the opportunity to tie the lowest score in the history of the championship, but only if he shot an eight-under par, 64. With records on the line and another blistering hot and humid day on the course, Fred Biondi and Tyler Wilkes teed off to not only win the 63rd Boys' Junior Amateur Championship, but do so with record-breaking performances.
In the 16-18 age division, it was Fred Biondi who started out hot and never looked back. Biondi started off his round with two consecutive birdies on the par-five first hole and par-four second hole. After a par on the third hole, Biondi made his first bogey since the final hole in the first round to drop back to nine-under par for the tournament. Getting back on track, Biondi birdied not only the next hole, but his final three holes on the front nine to make the turn at a five-under par, 31, and 13-under par for the championship. Fred went on to make his fourth consecutive birdie of the round on the 402 yard, par-four tenth hole. With another bogey on the 12th hole, Fred moved to 13-under par for the championship and five-under for his day. Adding one more birdie to his round on the fourteenth hole, Biondi made it to 14-under par, which would be a record for the Boys' Junior 16-18 age division if he finished at that number. Putting on cruise control, Fred Biondi went on to par his final four holes to stay at 14-under par, break the all-time low score record for the 16-18 age division, and be just the third individual to win the 13-15 and 16-18 age division championship in consecutive years. "It is an honor to be a back-to-back state champion," Biondi said. "I was hitting really nice the entire tournament and putted well at Bent Pine Golf Club."
In the 13-15 age division, it was Tyler Wilkes who went wire-to-wire to win his first Boys' Junior Amateur Championship. After his opening round of seven-under par, 65, Wilkes never gave the field the opportunity to catch up to him. Coming into the final round, Wilkes knew if he played like he did during the first round at Bent Pine, he would be the Boys' Junior champion. Like Biondi, Wilkes opened up his round with two consecutive birdies even after a wayward drive on the first hole. Pars on the third, fourth, and fifth holes increased Wilkes lead and he nearly lapped the field. Proving he could handle Bent Pine with ease, Tyler went on to birdie the sixth and seventh holes to move to four-under for the day and eleven-under for the championship. Going out in four-under par, 32, Wilkes just had to play consistently to capture the championship with strokes to spare. With a birdie on the par-four 12th hole and very uncharacteristic bogey on the 13th hole, Wilkes would remain at eleven-under with five holes to play. On the fourteenth hole, Tyler's putter started getting hot and after birdieing the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth holes, Wilkes moved to 14-under par for the tournament. On the final hole, Wilkes had a lead that was going to be nearly impossible to lose. After splitting the fairway with a lengthy drive off the tee on the 18th, Wilkes made the decision to go for the par-five in two. Hitting a long iron, Wilkes knocked his approach shot to approximately 50 feet. With the title of Boys' Junior Amateur Champion being 50 feet away, Wilkes rolled his eagle putt beautifully to two feet. With a tap-in birdie at the last, Wilkes finished his round with a career-low, eight-under par, 64. Completing the tournament at 15-under par, Wilkes would win the 63rd Boys' Junior by five strokes and tie the all-time low score for the 13-15 age division at the Boys' Junior Amateur Championship. "It's an honor to win the Florida Boys' Junior," the University of Florida commit said. "It's by far the biggest win of my tournament career. What makes this week so special is how talented all of my competitors are."
While one wouldn't see it in their scores, the only hiccup of the day came when lightning crept into the surrounding area, suspending play for the lead groups for nearly two hours. Once the radar was cleared and the suspension was lifted, players made their way back onto the course where they would eventually finish their few remaining holes.
The 63rd Boys' Junior Amateur Championship hosted by Bent Pine Golf Club provided excellent conditions, giving the competitors the chance to make birdies and shoot low scores. However, after 54 holes, it was Fred Biondi, yet again, and Tyler Wilkes who hoisted their trophies and will join names such as Matt Kuchar, Blayne Barber, and Sam Horsefield as Boys' Junior Amateur Champions.