Florida Junior: Barber, Ceravolo win

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 9, 2008)--Blayne Barber went wire-to-wire to capture the 54th Florida State Boys Junior Championship for his second Boys Junior title as Matthew Ceravolo claimed the junior division title at Interlachen Country Club and Country Club of Orlando on July 7-9.

In the 16-18 age division, Barber, 18, of Lake City, posted a tournament total of 9-under par 206 to win the 2008 Championship. After a first round 5-under par 66 on the par 71 Country Club of Orlando course, Barber took a one stroke lead heading into the second round. Barber then expanded his lead to three with a second round 67 at Interlachen.

“I never played so well in my life,” said Barber. “I hit the ball exactly as I wanted and made lots of birdies.”

In the final round, Barber started with a pair of pars then made double bogey on three and bogey on four.

“I just hung in there and tried not to get down,” said Barber.

With a par on five and birdies on six and nine, Barber made the turn at 2-over and maintained his three stroke lead. On the back, Barber birdied holes 15, 16 and 18 to go 3-under for the last five holes and post a 1-under par 35.

“I knew I had a four stroke lead with two holes to play,” said Barber. “It let me relax and not worry so much about the remaining holes.”

Barber’s final round of 73 secured his second Boys Junior Championship by four strokes.

“This win is great,” said Barber. “This is my last junior tournament so it’s nice to go out on top.”

Barber, who will be playing at University of Central Florida in the fall, won the 2006 Boys Junior Championship and was last season’s Florida Junior Tour (FJT) Points Champion. This win puts him slightly ahead to win this season’s FJT points race. George Letson, 17, of Tampa, took second place carding rounds of 67-72-71 to finish 5-under par 210 for the 54-hole event. Ben Vertz, 18, of Coral Springs, placed third shooting a 70-66-78—214. In the second round, Vertz broke the Interlachen course record by two strokes.

In the 13-15 age division, Matthew Ceravolo, 15, of Palm Beach Gardens, ran away with the title recording a tournament total of 5-under par 210. After posting a 68-71 the first two days, Ceravolo held a two stroke advantage heading into the final round.

“I’ve been there before,” said Ceravolo about having the lead with one round remaining. “I thought if I stayed at even, I would have a shot to win.”

In the final round, Ceravolo made the turn at 2-under par 34 with birdies on the holes 3, 6 and 9 for a six stroke lead. On the back nine, Ceravolo continued to birdie holes 14 and 16 to maintain the six stroke lead for the win.

“This course was unbelievable,” said Ceravolo. “It really suited my game.”

With this win, Ceravolo wraps up the Florida Junior Tour points race winning four additional events this season.

“I live for pressure,” said Ceravolo. “This win really means a lot and gives me a lot of confidence before the US Junior Championship.”

Keith Greene, 15, of Debary, jumped into second place with a final round 67. Combined with his first two rounds of 75-74, Greene finished with a 216 total. First round leader Chris Ingham, 15, of Pinecrest, placed third at 217. Ingham led with a first round 67 and finished with rounds of 74-76.

More than 370 entries were filed for the 2008 Championship setting a new tournament record. Competitors first attempted to qualify for the Championship at one of six sites across the state in 18 holes of stroke play. The Championship field features 120 of the top male amateur golfers in the 16-18 age division and 48 top juniors in the 13-15 age division. In the Championship, competitors played 18 holes on each course with the final 18 holes at Interlachen Country Club.

To enter, participants must be between the ages of 13-18 as of July 9 and not attending college. Also, the juniors must have a handicap index no higher than 17.4.

--Courtesy FSGA

ABOUT THE Florida Junior Amateur

54 holes of stroke play to crown the top junior in the state. Non exempt players need to qualify at sites across the state in 18 holes of stroke play. Started in 1955, former Boys Junior Champions include Gary Koch, Len Mattiace, Josh McCumber, Jeremy Anderson and Matt Kuchar. Male amateur golfers ages 13-18. Entrant must not reached their 19th birthday and not attending college. All players must walk and carry their own clubs.

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