FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island High junior golfer Tyler Mawhinney, after two bogies on his 13th and 14th holes, beat a pending thunderstorm to the tape to smoke a birdie on 16 and an 18th hole eagle …
FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island High junior golfer Tyler Mawhinney, after two bogies on his 13th and 14th holes, beat a pending thunderstorm to the tape to smoke a birdie on 16 and an 18th hole eagle to capture a three-way tie for the Randy Warren Memorial Golf Invitational held Monday at Fleming Island Golf Club. Four golfers started a four-hole sudden-death round to determine a winner, but a lightning strike forced officials to stop the contest with three golfers remaining.
"It's a different motivation when the team title is on the line more than me winning the individual title," said Mawhinney, noting teammate Dylan Frein's birdie putt on 18 secured the one-point win for Fleming Island. "Knowing that we were all playing close enough to need a few breaks here and there to get the team title makes us a better team. We communicate and encourage each other throughout the tournament and it keeps everyone calm. Dylan came through for us."
Mawhinney, who finished tied at 67 (4-under par) with three other golfers; Carson Baez of Windermere, Nolan Harper of Beachside and Camden Goldknopf of Episcopal, all seniors with this flurry in the final four holes.
With the Fleming Island boys team teetering with the team title being three strokes behind Beachside near after the first nine holes, Fleming Island coach Bruce Cloud was anxious about whether his team could defend last year's title. Fleming Island rose from a third-place score near the midway point to pull out a 281-282 team win over Episcopal and 285 to third-place Beachside. Beachside was up by as much as three strokes early in the tournament.
"We came in with the mindset of, first, winning the tournament, then maybe chasing the record team score we had last year; 271, but the competition today was brutal and every mistake was going to be costly," said Cloud, noting his team has just two seniors. "Tyler is very confident with his game and kept his cool after the two bogies in the final nine holes."
With Mawhinney approaching the 18th hole with a blind fairway shot behind a set of bushes to the left of the fairway, the wily slinger settled in and calmly hit to about 12 feet from the pin to set up a possible Eagle finish to close the individual scoring. Goldknopf was the early frontrunner for most of the tournament with Mawhinney falling as far as 10th place.
"I just kept my focus and played my game," said Mawhinney. "It was hot and I knew those guys were not going to make many mistakes. I only needed one or two."
At the 18th, with Windermere's Carson Baez hitting his second shot off the fairway about 15 feet into the woods, the mistake was made. Baez made the score tighter prior to the 18th with birdies on 16 and 17 after a bogie on 15. Baez did hit out of the woods successfully to secure a par score, but Mawhinney was now in a position to close the scoring with his putt which landed softly in the cup.
Goldknopf also faltered at 18 with a bogie after Baez's par which put Mawhinney in position.
For the team scoring, Mawhinney's heroics at 18 got Fleming Island to a tie with Episcopal before Frein punched in a birdie putt to secure the win.
Fleming Island finished with Jaylen Abbas at 71, Emmet Kuhlenkemp at 73 and Ryan Houck at 75.
For Episcopal, Goldknopf was on top of the leaderboard with three birdies into the 17th where he hit par then 18 where he bogeyed. Number two for Episcopal was senior Henry Robards who kept pace with a finishing 68 after a strong 32 round in the final nine. Robards struggled in the first nine with a 36 with two bogies that proved costly.
Beachside also had a 67-68 top-two finish, but two finishers with 77 and 79 scores kept Beachside from the team title.
Clay finished 14th in the 24-team field led by John Martin's 75 and Jack Newell's 77. St. Johns Country Day School finished 22nd (Beckham Cummings 78), Middleburg finished 23rd (Lucas Wahlstrom 83) and Orange Park finished 24th (Brock Buhnerkemper 75).