Lench Two-Time Amateur Champ
The picturesque yet challenging Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club and the immaculate Concession Golf Club in Bradenton hosted the prestigious 101st Amateur Championship! After 14 qualifying events across the state and earned exemptions, 168 of the best Florida amateur golfers teed it up for 36 holes of stroke play before the field was cut to the low 70 players. The competitors would play one round at both The Concession Golf Club and the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club before determining who would advance to the final two rounds.
Three players took the early lead tied for first at 67 (-5), playing the first round at Ritz-Carlton. 2018 Mid-Amateur Champion, Marc Dull, back to back Boys’ Junior Champion, Fred Biondi, and Corey Carlson stood ready at the top to play Concession in round two. The only player to score under-par at The Concession with a 70 (-2) was Tyler Wilkes, another past Boys’ Junior Champion. Wilkes, of Tampa, finished round one tied for fourth place with another familiar name, Chip Brooke, who is currently third on the FSGA points list.
Marc Dull broke free from the tie for the lead with a second round 72 at The Concession Club for a 139 (-5). Dull took the lead heading into the final two rounds by one stroke over Fred Biondi who post a second round 73. Past Champion Gabriel Lench lurked close behind at 143 (-1) along with Tyler Wilkes who carded a second round 73. The field was cut to 71 players at 144 (+10) or better ready for tough competition the final two days.
Saturday’s third round saw Marc Dull lead by three strokes over past Champion, Gabriel Lench, Joe Alfieri, and Michael Sakane. At one point during the round, Dull advanced to a six stroke lead with four holes remaining. Dull bogeyed holes 15, 16 and 18 to fall to a third stroke lead with a round three 74. Despite a double-bogey on the 13th hole, Lench played solid golf making four birdies on the day for a 73. Lench is fighting for his second Amateur Championship win after his win in 2014. Four-time Amateur player of the year, Joe Alfieri, posted four birdies in the final nine holes to tie for second alongside Michael Sakae, of Jacksonville, who is participating with the FSGA for the first time.
Dull got off to a rocky start during the final round as he was vying for his first Amateur Championship victory. On his front nine, Dull made four bogies and a double-bogey to make the turn four-over par as Lench chased close behind. Lench started with a steady front nine making one birdie and one bogey to turn at even par. Never once taking his foot off of the accelerator, Dull carded four birdies and five pars in his final nine holes to finish with an even par 72. Meanwhile, Lench continued to close Dull’s lead with three birdies on the back nine for a final round 69. Lench and Dull finished the 101st Amateur Championship tied for the lead at 285 (-3). Ben Reichert, of Tampa, finished in the top three with consistent rounds of 72-73-72-72—289 (+1). Joe Alfieri fell to tie Tyler Wilkes and David Morgan for fourth place.
Inclement weather rolled through the Bradenton area causing Lench and Dull to sit on their tied lead for a two hour and 30 minute delay. After the weather passed, the two went head to head in a sudden death playoff to determine who would hoist the trophy! On the second playoff hole Gabriel two-putted for par while Marc three-putted from 70 feet for bogey. Lench earned his second Amateur Championship victory in the past four years!