50-footer not enough for Swartz

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 9/14/22

FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island senior golfer Colton Swartz blasted a 300 foot drive off hole three at Fleming Island Golf Club, then landed a 50 foot putt to start off his day at the Randy Warren …

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50-footer not enough for Swartz

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island senior golfer Colton Swartz blasted a 300 foot drive off hole three at Fleming Island Golf Club, then landed a 50 foot putt to start off his day at the Randy Warren Memorial Golf Invitational on Monday, but then ran into a buzzsaw named Cam.

“I tell you what, I hit that drive, got that putt and thought it was going to be a good day,” said Swartz, who eventually finished second to the day’s champion Camden Smith of Ponte Vedra, but helped to secure a first-ever team title for the Golden Eagles in the tournament to honor former Fleming Island High athletic director Randy Warren, who coached just about every sport as a Golden Eagle. “We both hit a bunch of birdies to finish the final five holes and it was shoulder to shoulder the whole way.”

With 20 teams joining the field including Ponte Vedra, Bartram Trail, Atlantic Coast, Episcopal and Bolles to juice up the competition, Smith, a senior, punched in with a seven under par 63 for the course with, ironically, a bogie on the five par hole three, but also an eagle on the par five fifth hole to keep Swartz at bay.

Smith ran off a string of birdies from 11 to 14, then eagled 16, par on 17 and the birdie to finish on 18.

Swartz answered most of Smith’s great shots with shots of his own despite a bogie on 11 that was followed with five birdies and two pars to keep pace.

“This tournament was a record setting day for the Fleming Island golf history books and a nice honor to Coach Warren,” said Fleming Island coach Bruce Cloud, who looks to return his boys to the state tournament after a region meltdown last year that followed a fifth place finish just two years ago. “Every one of these boys are capable of a great tournament with freshmen Tyler Mawhinney and Ryan Houck both having big finishes today.”We will be hosting districts on this course so today was a good sign for us.”

Mawhinney, a long time age group JAGA (Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association) standout, has blossomed into a season veteran for Cloud and also for Swartz.

“I hope they see what I’m doing on the leaderboard and take that as motivation to stay focused on their game,” said Swartz. “Both of them have been big contributors to our team with Emmett Kuhlenkamp, a sophomore, and Jaylen Abbas, a junior, rounding out the top five.”

Abbas, with his start at 17, moved ahead of Houck in his final nine holes with three birdies, but faltered on 16 with a double bogie.

Houck bogied three holes on his front nine; start at 18, with an eagle on 10 starting a string of three birdies and five pars to finish with a bogie on 17.

Mawhinney finished at par 70 with five birdies. Houck and Abbas both made strong finishes to secure the team title for Fleming Island, up by as much as 13 strokes at one point, holding off Ponte Vedra with a 272 final tally to the Sharks’ 274 with Episcopal third at 288.

Middleburg, led by senior Chase Carroll, who will by attempting a fourth straight state tournament appearance, finished 15th with Carroll seventh at 70. Orange Park was was 20th led by Brock Buhnerkemper’s 80.

Carroll finished at 70 with four birdies and three bogies; two on his final two holes.

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