June 24, 2005

Abbate Maintains Amateur Lead

Ryan Abbate shoots 3-under 69 to lead the lowest 74 golfers into the weekend at the 88th Amateur Championship.

Ryan Abbate, of Fort Lauderdale, made six birdies on the Links course to record a 6-under par 66 in the first round and lead the field by two strokes. Abbate came out strong in the second round to birdie holes 2, 3 and 6 for a 34 on the front nine. With birdies on holes 15 and 17, Abbate shot a 35 on the back nine and a 69 for the round on the Lakes course. Abbate’s two-round total of 135 puts him at 9-under for the Championship and having a two stroke lead going into the weekend. Abbate, who qualified for the Championship at TPC of Eagle Trace, is playing in his first Amateur Championship. 

Michael Nealy, of Boca Raton, jumped to second place after shooting a 67 in the second round on the Links course. Combined with his 70 in the first round, Nealy posted a two-round total of 137 to trail Abbate by two strokes. The 2002 Amateur Champion, Ty Harris, of Longwood, made two eagles on the Lakes course for a 66 and moved ahead to third place. The two eagles came on holes 3 and 17 to help Harris shoot the low score of the second round and low score on the Lakes course. Harris carded a 74 in the first round and with his 66 is at a two-round total of 4-under par 140. Kelly Gosse, of Inverness, and Kyle Henderson, of Clermont, shot steady rounds of 69-72 to be tied for fourth place while James Byrd, of Windermere, posted a 71 in both rounds to stand alone in sixth place. Henderson and Byrd are both top junior golfers on the Florida Junior Tour.  The Championship continues with 74 golfers advancing to play the final 36 holes this weekend.

Before reaching the Championship, more than 780 participants attempted to qualify at one of 13 sites across the state. In the Championship, participants play 18 holes each at the Lakes and Links courses on June 23-24. After 36 holes, 74 players at a two-round total of 151 or better advance to the final 36 holes of the Championship on the Lakes course on June 25-26.

Designed by Jack Nicklaus, Bear Lakes features two championship golf courses, the Lakes and Links. Bear Lakes hosted the Amateur in 1990 as well as the final stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying School in 2001. Started in 1914, the FSGA State Amateur is the oldest continuous sporting event in the state as well as the largest amateur event in Florida. Past Amateur champions include Bob Murphy, Jerry Pate, Buddy Alexander, and PGA Tour players David Peoples, Chris Couch, and Barry Cheesman.  

Spectators and media are welcome to watch the state’s best amateur golfers compete at Bear Lakes Country Club.

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