Finster ends run of almosts with heroic Gasparilla win
Gasparilla winners Bob Royak and Mike Finster (Courtesy Gasparilla Invitational)
Gasparilla winners Bob Royak and Mike Finster (Courtesy Gasparilla Invitational)

Mike Finster called his bogey-free, 6-under 64 at Palma Ceia Golf Club in Tampa, Fla., the round of his life on Saturday. Turns out that’s what it took to finally get the St. Petersburg, Fla., resident over the hump at one of the country’s premier mid-amateur events. After a handful of runner-up finishes at the Gasparilla Amateur, Finster is finally the champion.

Finster was the only player in the top 10 to go bogey free for the final round. He started the day seven shots off the pace of second-round leader Joseph Deraney, who was 9 under. But while Deraney went 4 over in the opening four holes, Finster went 2 under. He had three birdies on each side.

Finster’s final-round 64 came on the heels of opening rounds of 70-68. At 8 under, he three ahead of Derek Busy (Ruston, La.) and Deraney (Belden, Miss.).

“As my daughter would say, I’m a four-time first loser so finally nice to get that monkey off my back,” Finster told media after the round.

Finster being so close so many times, he became something of a local favorite. This adds to a strong start in 2019 that includes a win at a Florida Winter Series event in January.

Kevin O’Connell, the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, was part of a tie for fourth at 3 under. Joe Alfieri, the first-round leader, was also at that number.

Bob Royak of Alpharetta, Ga., won the senior title in a playoff with Adam Armagost of Jupiter, Fla. Royak had rounds of 70-67-77 for a 4-over total, then won on the first extra hole.

Results: Gasparilla Invitational
1FLMike FinsterSt. Petersburg, FL40070-68-64=202
T2LADerek BusbyRuston, LA30068-67-70=205
T2MSJoseph DeraneyBelden, MS30065-66-74=205
T4FLKevin O'ConnellJacksonville, FL20068-68-71=207
T4FLJoe AlfieriLutz, FL20063-70-74=207

View full results for Gasparilla Invitational

ABOUT THE Gasparilla Invitational

54-hole individual stroke play championship with a cut after 36 holes to the low 60 and ties. Good mix of Florida players and national competitors looking for an early season tune up. Played on a traditional, tree lined golf course that isn't very long but has small, undulating greens.

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