Last weekend, the Amateur Players Tour kicked off its 2021 season at the Winter Fourball at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Winter Garden, FL. 35 teams converged from across the country to compete for a $4,200 prize pool and over $3,000 in skins games. Teams were seeded based upon their team handicap and then split into 3 equal flights. Champions were crowned in each flight based upon the gross and net champion. Panther Lake and Crooked Cat are the current home of the Korn Ferry Tour Q-school event each December. Players were met with beautiful weather and excellent course conditions for the inaugural National Major on the Amateur Players Tour.
In Flight 1, Tyler Fieser (St. Louis) and his partner Will Morgan (Carolina Triad) set the pace early with a sizzling 62, featuring 8 birdies and an eagle to earn a comfortable 6 shot lead on day 1. After a solid 2nd round of 70 on Crooked Cat in round 2, Fieser/Morgan earned the victory in the Gross Division. Nicholas Smith (Houston) and Shawn Elmore (Tampa) 68-70 138 finished in 2nd place while Ramsey Kimbrough (Smoky Mountain) and Tim Saunders (Smoky Mountain) finished in 3rd 70-70 140. In the net competition, it came down to a close competition between Nicholas Smith (Houston)/Shawn Elmore (Tampa) and Matt Minder (St. Louis)/Kevin Fally (DFW). Both teams shot 5-under 67 on the day, but a late birdie by Smith/Elmore led to a one-shot victory at -12. Minder (STL)/Fally (DFW) finished at -11 and one shot back.
In Flight 2, Tommy Sedman (Smoky Mountain) and AJ Ayala (Atlanta) jumped out to an early lead with a 73 over Mike Barnhardt/Mike Cassarino (Charlotte) - 75 and Dave Adams/Jeff Rainford (St. Louis) – 76 after Day 1 on Panther Lake. Adams/Rainford (STL) shot the round of the day in Flight 2 on the Crooked Cat course, shooting an even-par 72 to earn a 2-shot victory (76-72 148) over Sedman/Ayala (Smoky Mountain/ATL) 73-77 150. In the net competition, it came down to a tie between Tommy Sedman/AJ Ayala and Nolan Elenz (Charlotte) and Mason Hagen (Las Vegas). Adams/Rainford weren’t eligible to win both the gross and the net contests. The tiebreaker came down to Day 2 score on the Crooked Cat course, and Elenz/Hagen’s even-par 72 was enough to edge Sedman/Ayala by 1 shot to earn the Net Title at -2. Barnhardt/Cassarino (Charlotte) finished in 3rd one stroke back at -1.
In Flight 3, Day 1 scoring was tight on the Panther Lake Course as Luke Barritt (Rocky Mountain)/Casey Bice (Las Vegas) – 74, Blake Barnes/Brandon Casella (Houston) – 76, and Cliff Austin III (KC)/John Kelsey (Nashville) – 76 were at the top of the pack. Barritt/Bice continued their steady play, shooting a 2nd-round 78 on the longer Crooked Cat Course to earn a 2-shot victory (74-78 152) over Blake Barnes/Brandon Casella (76-78 154). Joseph Jones/Crys Peyton (Columbia) (81-78 159) finished in 3rd place. In the net competition, Barnes/Casella and Barrett/Bice were battling at the top of the leaderboard. Barnes/Casella (HOU) shot 65-68 133 to earn a 2-shot win at -11. Barritt/Bice were 2nd at -9, Peyton/Jones were 3rd at -7, and Byrne/Durbin (Kenturcky) finished in 4th at -2.
Winners of both the gross and net competitions earned the first priority status exemptions into this year’s North American Championship at Pinehurst Resorts October 25-27. They will be invited to register starting on August 2nd, but space is limited and will be granted on a first come-first served basis for those earning priority status. Registration will then open to the rest of the APT membership who have not earned priority status on August 16th.
Priority Status for Pinehurst:
Tyler Fieser (St. Louis)
Will Morgan (Carolina Triad)
Nicholas Smith (Houston)
Shawn Elmore (Tampa)
Dave Adams (St. Louis)
Jeff Rainford (St. Louis)
Nolan Elenz (Charlotte)
Mason Hagen (Las Vegas)
Luke Barritt (Rocky Mountain)
Casey Bice (Las Vegas)
Blake Barnes (Houston)
Brandon Casella (Houston)
From here, the next National Major will be contested on March 6-7 at the Lone-Star Shootout at TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks & Canyons). This 36-hole stroke-play championship will be the first individual major of the season, with National Major points on the line, a $7,200 prize pool* (based on full field of 120), and priority status exemptions into the North American Championship. Registration is open now and will close on February 20th. Spots are filling up fast, so don’t miss your chance to compete! The tournament will be contested 3 weeks before the Valero Texas Open, so players will experience pristine course conditions and what it will be like to compete in a PGA Tour event. The cost is $450 and includes a tee gift, HUGE prize pool, golf, cart, and range. Our host hotel, the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa, has offered us reduced rates and is great for a weekend family getaway with a spa, pools, great restaurants and more. Check the Tournament Information Page for more information.
Orange County National By the Numbers:
Prize Pool: $4,200
Skins Payouts: $3,150
Local Chapters Represented: 24
Players Earning Priority Status for Pinehurst: 12