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Derek Busby wins the Gasparilla Invitational
Spared by pirates - Derek Busby poses with some salty dogs and his Gasparilla trophy
Spared by pirates - Derek Busby poses with some salty dogs and his Gasparilla trophy

Derek Busby of Ruston, Louisiana claimed the Gasparilla Invitational title today at Palma Ceia Country Club in Tampa, Florida at 4-under 206 on the par 70 layout.

Busby, who fired a tournament-low tying 65 in the second round -- when cool weather sent scores skyrocketing -- had a game plan for managing his five shot lead heading into today's final round.

Related: Gasparilla Invitational: Derek Busby jumps out to 5-shot lead

"My goal was to get to double digits and go bogey free today," said Busby in an exclusive phone interview with AmateurGolf.com. "Then someone would have to play a great round to catch me."

Despite getting off to a self-described "scrappy start," Busby was able to stick to his plan with key par saves on the first two holes, thanks to a couple of nice putts. Playing with No. 5 ranked Mid-Am in the AmateurGolf.com rankings Joe Deraney, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when he'll make a move.

Sure enough, Deraney stuffed a shot on No. 4, while Busby had 30 feet for a birdie of his own.

"That was the turning point," said Busby. "I made my 30 footer and he missed - then I hit a gap wedge to 5 feet and made it on the next hole for my second birdie in a row."

After another birdie on No. 7 and a front nine of 32, and with Deraney getting on the bogey train with five straight, it appeared that the only thing left to determine was who would be runner-up.

But this is golf we're talking about, and The Gasparilla is a prized trophy. Heck, there are pirates involved. (The tournament takes it's name from the annual Mardi-Gras like Gasparilla Festival in Tampa/St. Pete.)

Related: The Best Tournament Logos in Amateur Golf

Busby made three straight pars to start the back nine, and his goal of double digits was well within reach. He was 11-under, and nobody was even close. A bogey on the 13th proved to be a bad omen, but in the end Busby had such a nice margin to play with that it didn't matter.

"After I made bogey on 13 I didn’t refocus/reset my goals," explained Busby. "I plugged it in the bunker on No. 15 [leading to a triple bogey] then, as it does out there, everything got hard all of a sudden."

Busby made a double bogey on No. 16, and bogeyed 17 to fall back to 4-under on the tournament. But with Deraney unable to make a charge, he just needed to hold off Marc Dull and the other players close to par for the 54-hole event. Busby finished with a safe par on the 18th to take home one of the coolest trophies in amateur golf.

Dull finished solo second at 1-under 209 thanks to a final round 69 while Deraney righted the ship to post 1-under 34 on the back nine and a 73 for a tournament total of even par 210 -- good for third place.

SENIOR DIVISION
Jimmy Jones
Jimmy Jones of Tampa, like Busby in the Mid-Am division, took a 5-shot lead into the final round in the senior division. After making three-straight bogeys to start the round, Jones settled down and shot 38 while Richard Kerper (the first round leader) posted 37 to gain a stroke.

The same thing happened on the back nine, with Kerper making up another shot to get within three and finish in solo second at 7-over against Jones' winning total of 4-over 214. Jack Hall of Savannah, GA posted a final round 71 to finish in third place at 9-over 219.

Results: Gasparilla Invitational
1LADerek BusbyRuston, LA40067-65-74=206
2FLMarc DullWinter Haven, 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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