DeBra, Stamberger tie for early Gasparilla Invitational leads
Gasparilla Senior leader Richard Kerper fired 67 (FSGA photo)
Gasparilla Senior leader Richard Kerper fired 67 (FSGA photo)

Last year at Palma Ceia Country Club, local resident Mike Finster ended a run of several runner-up events by finally leaping over the hurdle and taking the title at the Gasparilla Invitational.

Finster, of St. Petersburg, then called his bogey-free, 6-under 64 at Palma Ceia Golf Club in Tampa, Fla., "the round of my life." And this year, he started off his title defense with an impressive round of 3-under 67 on the par 70 layout. The difference between this year and last year? Three bogeys on the card, that's it.

Finster is T4, two strokes behind Daniel DeBra (Lutz, Florida) and Michael Stamberger (Briele, NJ) who both posted 65. Both DeBra and Stamberger had 5 birdies against no bogeys. Pretty impressive stuff -- Palma Ceia is relatively short but the greens are small and both players likely had some solid up-and-downs to avoid bogeys.

The duo have a one shot lead over two players, one of them being Matt Parziale of Brockton, Mass. -- the nation's No. 8 ranked Mid-Am.

Parziale started his round with 3-straight birdies, and finished it with two-in-a-row.

The other 66 was posted by Benjamin Day of Waterbury, Conn. Tied with the defending champion at 3-under are Richard Kerper (Oldsmar, FL), Derek Busby (Ruston, LA), and Evan Hernandez of St. Petersburg.

Playing from the same tees as the Mid-Ams, the seniors are eligible for the overall title -- a format this website approves of especially when many of the "young seniors" can play with the younger guys.

Richard Kerper and Jimmy Jones lead that division after rounds of 3-under 67 while's 2019 Senior Player-of-the-Year Doug Hanzel is a shot back at 2-under 68.

There are 35 seniors in the field, and just over 100 mid-ams. The 54-hole tournament continues Friday, with the final round being played Saturday.

Results: Gasparilla Invitational
1LADerek BusbyRuston, LA40067-65-74=206
2FLMarc DullLakeland, FL30069-71-69=209
3MSJoseph DeraneyBelden, MS20068-69-73=210
T4TXColby HarwellSan Antonio, TX20070-72-70=212
T4TNPhilip LeeNashville, TN20069-70-73=212

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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