Special to South Florida PGA
NAPLES – Michael Kartrude of West Palm Beach was determined to win his second E-Z-GO South Florida Open during Thursday's final round.
Kartrude wasn’t bothered by a sizzling 30 shot on the back nine by playing partner Alan Morin. Kartrude responded with a 32 to win by a stroke at 17-under 199 at Bonita Bay Club. Kartrude also won in 2016.
“I stuck to what I needed to do,” Kartrude said. “I stayed focused on what I had to do. I made it so Alan had to come get me.”
The savvy of the 30-year-old PGA Professional at the Bear’s Club was evident throughout the three days. Kartrude held a share of the lead after the first two rounds and secured the victory with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. He made 20 birdies against a bogey and a double bogey.
Earlier this year, Kartrude qualified for his first PGA Tour event, in the Dominican Republic – only to see the event in March postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I was like ‘Great!,’ then ‘Boom, it’s gone!,” he said. The tournament has been rescheduled for Sept. 24-27.
At least they can’t take away Thursday’s win.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I’m just really hoping for a great summer of golf, not just for me but for all of golf. With everything that’s going on (with the virus), we just want to go out and do what we do best – play golf.”
Lake Worth's Morin, looking to win the championship for a record fourth time, saw those hopes evaporate when he shot 1-over on the front nine. Morin, a PGA Professional at The Falls Club, rallied with the six birdies for a 67 to share second place with amateur Austin Schultz (66) of Verandah Golf Club in Fort Myers.
“It was just a blah front nine,” said Morin, 51. “But I almost made a hole-in-one on 11, and that got things going. I was just trying to give him a fight. I think I’ve been second four or five times in this tournament, too. Michael’s a good player. He did what he had to do.”
Schultz is in his fifth year as an assistant for the Florida Gulf Coast University men’s golf team. The 26-year-old showed he can still compete with the pros with three rounds in the 60s, including a pair of eagles.
“I would rank this up there with what I’ve done in golf,” said Schultz, who was runner-up in the conference tournament during his senior year at FCGU. “This week we played on some great courses against outstanding competition.”