Ben Finley entered the second and final round of the 53rd annual Broward County Men’s Amateur Golf Tournament at the Jacaranda Golf Club nearly down and out.
He trailed first-round leader Andrew Sharp of Boca Raton by five shots and figured a second straight title and third championship in four events was a longshot. Sharp led the field with a 70.
“I got three kids behind me and they are all good players,” said Finley, 51, who lives along the East Course’s 11th hole and plays at Jacaranda. “They all shot lower than I did yesterday (in the first round), so I thought I gave it away. I really thought I was going to have to shoot 68. Those kids play in college and it has been 30 years since I played a college tournament.”
The Plantation resident sought encouragement after the round.
“I give a lot of credit to my wife,” Finley said. “She is not a golfer. She is a very spiritual person and I came yesterday and I tried to ask her what am I doing, and she said, ‘You’re a knucklehead, I told you this before.’”
Upshot: Relax and just go out and play your game.
“I started off good,” said Finley, who finished the second day with five birdies and four bogeys for 71. “I made four birdies on the front and I birdied 10 to get to 3-under. … I played pretty loose, but it doesn’t take anything away from winning a tournament at my age. It is pretty damn cool.”
Finley carded a 75-71–146 to edge Sharp (70-77–147). Doral’s Luis Alvarez (75-74–149) and Boynton Beach’s Jackson Shoenfelt (74-75–149) were T3.
“I hit the ball really well on the front and I felt calm up until about 16,” said Finley, who also won in 2017 and 2019. There was no tournament last year. “I started to feel a little bit nervous because I missed a reasonably short birdie putt on 16 and I thought, ‘If I make this, I am in good shape.’
“Then I missed the green on 17 and got up and down and then bogeyed 18. Pretty much the whole day I felt pretty good up until that point.”
Sharp was 1-over on the front nine of the final round, but made bogey at Nos. 11, 12 and 13, plus a double-bogey on 16. He shot 40 on the back nine.
“I feel like I left a few out there yesterday and I feel like I left a lot out there today,” said Sharp, who was making his tournament debut. “It was a lot of fun. The guys were great. It was a great environment on the course.”
Andrew Michael, director of golf at Jacaranda, said there were 84 golfers in this year’s tournament. He said they opted to whittle the field from the 96 in 2019.
“We paired everyone up in threesomes and that seemed to work best. I think everybody enjoyed the tournament. Thankfully, the rain stayed away and we were able to get through it.”