Agony and Ecstasy
Bryan Harrell ties Jonathan Hope and wins a sudden-death playoff; Sara May wins the women's draw
Published: Monday, August 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 1, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
He was finished golfing for the day and Bryan Harrell was still a bundle of nerves. Considering the dramatic final hours Harrell scripted to the 14th annual Alachua County Amateur Golf Championship Sunday, that was understandable.
Harrell, 18, a former standout golfer at Gainesville High, erased Jonathan Hope's four-stroke lead on the back nine, then outlasted Hope through three sudden-death playoff holes to win the Alachua County Amateur Sunday afternoon at Gainesville Country Club.
Harrell won the tournament when he followed Hope's bogey on the par-5, No. 3 with a two-putt for par. The soft-spoken 18-year-old acknowledged the gallery that included 14 golf carts then quietly went back to the clubhouse with one of the most memorable wins of his young life.
"I'm still a little shaky," Harrell said afterward. "But it feels good. I played well today. I made some key putts which is what I had been working on, and my wedges were also working for me."
It took a furious finish to the tournament for Harrell to top Hope, the leader since Friday's first round at Plantation Oaks. Harrell opened the tournament eight strokes behind Hope after a first-round 3-over 75. Harrell then fired a 1-over 71 Saturday at the University of Florida golf course, the best second-round score, before posting a 1-under 71 Sunday to finish at 3-over 217 for the tournament.
Hope finished with a 2-over 74 Sunday and 3-over 217 for the tournament. The 22-year-old Santa Fe Community College graduate and Plantation Oaks resident nearly lost the tournament on No. 18 but saved par by sinking a 13-foot putt to force the playoff.
Both players made par on the first two playoff holes. Harrell had a chance to win the tournament on the par-4 No. 2, but missed a 10-foot birdie putt after Hope's par.
He finally put it away on No. 3, though, with a little help from Hope who put his approach shot in a sand trap. Harrell said he was nervous but didn't feel any pressure on the playoff holes.
"I just thought about it as if I was playing golf with my friends," said Harrell, who will attend Santa Fe Community College in the fall. "It was a lot of fun. That's what golf is supposed to be about."
Luke Beitila, a junior at Oak Hall, finished third with an even-72 that put him at 220 for the tournament. Defending champion Tyson Alexander shot a 4-over 76 to finish in fourth at 221, while John Darr, Jr. shot a 7-over 79 to finish in fifth at 224.
In the ladies division, Sara May captured her second Alachua County Amateur by shooting a 3-over 75 to finish the tournament at 231. May entered the day in a three-way tie with Gayle Lee (5-over, 77, 233) and Monica O'Reilly (8-over 80, 236), who finished second and third, respectively.
May, 24, of Plantation Oaks, also won in 2003. She said this year's title was more satisfying.
"I'd say so because there was better competition," May said. "It was a lot of fun going against Gayle Lee and Monica O'Reilly."
May and Harrell each received $300 for winning their divisions while the winners of each of the eight flights received $200 each. Those winners were Hope in the championship flight, Darr in the first flight, Peter Karahalios (231) in the second, Carl Miller (233) in the third, Mack Gadd (250) in the fourth, John Mendenhall (249) in the fifth, William Karras (250) in the sixth, Neil Sapp (256) in the seventh and Greg Adams (net scores) in the eighth flight.
You can reach Brandon Zimmerman by calling 374-5051 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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