Jul 2, 2023

2023 Independence Open Results


On July 4th weekend, the Amateur Players Tour converged back at Big Cedar Lodge for the 3rd playing of the Independence Open, with APT members enjoying two of the top new golf courses in the country.  On Saturday, players would experience Tiger Woods’ Payne’s Valley, which has been voted the top new resort course in the United States.  Sunday’s final round would be contested at the Coore/Crenshaw designed Ozarks National, a unique and challenging mountain layout with stunning views of the Ozarks below.  Players competed at a Closest to the Pin Contest on the 19th hole at Payne’s Valley on Saturday, raising $2,000 for Folds of Honor on this Independence Day weekend. 

Saturday’s scoring conditions were perfect, and scores reflected it in each division as scores were lower and better than expected.  The field came back to reality on a more difficult Ozarks National Golf Course on Sunday, where winds picked up at the top of the mountain and blew harder than expected making the challenging layout even more difficult. 

In Division 1, Ryan Eckelcamp (St. Louis) jumped out to an early lead with an impressive 4-under par 68 at Payne’s Valley.  That would be good enough for a 5-shot lead over Carolina Triad’s John Masotti, who finished round 1 with a 1-over par 73.  Eckelcamp’s 5-shot lead would prove to be too much, as both Eckelcamp and Masotti shot matching 74’s in Round 2 on a difficult Ozarks National course to finish 1st and 2nd respectfully.  Jeff Clifford (Utah) had the round of the day during round 2, firing a 1-under par 70 to jump all the way up into 3rd place!  On the senior side, Robert Connell (Arkansas) fired two matching rounds of 77 to earn 1st place honors over John Todd (St. Louis), who finished in 2nd place. 

In Division 2, low scores would be the norm on Saturday as players brought their A-game.  Brian Taylor (Kansas City) led the way with a 2-under 70 followed closely by Joshua Brooks (Kentucky) who trailed by 1 heading into Sunday with a 1-under par 71.  Marco Tallerico (St. Louis) and Cliff Austin (Kansas City) both fired even par rounds to trail by two heading into Ozarks National.  Ozarks would prove to be a tough test on Sunday.  The round of the day went to Jon Wendt (Indianapolis), who struggled during round 1 but fired an even-par 71 to jump all the way into a tie for 9th place.  Brian Taylor would hang on for a one shot win, as he, Joshua Brooks, and Marco Tallerico each shot 78 on Sunday to finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively one shot apart.  Mitchel Greiner (Arkansas) made the biggest move in the money by firing a 73 to finish in a tie for 4th with Jerry Burrell (Tennessee East)Cliff Austin (Kansas City) would finish in 6th place, while Joel VanHazinga (St. Louis) would round out the money in 7th position.  On the senior side, Brian Taylor would complete the double-dip victory, with Jerry Burrell finishing in 2nd position.  St. Louis’ Greg Garrett would take 3rd, while Chris Denz (Virginia Capital) would finish in 4th place. 

In Division 3, Saturday’s round at Payne’s Valley would belong to Tyler Ellison (Virginia Capital), who shot a blistering 75 to take a 4-shot lead over Simay Souvannarath (St. Louis) heading into Sunday’s final round.  Sunday would belong to Shawn Larsen (Utah), who played a career round to come from behind after an 84 on Saturday, shooting a 4-over par 75 to earn a 5-shot victory!  Simay Souvannarath (St. Louis) stayed steady on Sunday to take home 2nd place honors, while John Romine (Iowa) and Verl Seger (Kansas City) each tied for 3rd place.  Troy Simoneau (Kansas City) and Brandon Williams (Augusta) tied for 5th place, while Tyler Ellison  finished in solo 7th.  8th place went to Charles Hertel (Maryland), Mike Gooch (Houston), Paul Stanton (Tulsa), and Michael Cioffi (Augusta).  On the senior side, Simay Souvannarath earned a 2-shot victory with her steady play over Verl Seger.  Third place went to Charles Hertel, Paul Stanton and Michael Cioffi. 

Division 4 would see a packed leaderboard after Saturday’s 1st round at Payne’s Valley, with 6 players within 2 shots of the lead after day 1 with Jay Williams (Arkansas) and Roy Thavaraj (Kansas City) leading the way with rounds of 80.  Sunday would belong to Justin Bennett, who approached 18 in the next to last group tied for the lead on the difficult 18th hole.  His approach would find the back of the green, leaving him a tricky 30 footer down the hill.  He made it!  Bennet’s birdie on the last secured him a 2-shot win over Rob Luter (Arkansas) and Dauffus Jackson (St. Louis) who finished 2-shots back.  4th place went to Jay Williams with a 2-day total of 171.  Chris Louth (Columbus) finished 5th, while Jeremy Conetah (Utah) rounded out the money with a 6th place finish.  On the senior side, Rob Luter earned a 4-shot victory over Jay WilliamsDolly Buenaventura (St. Louis) and Roy Thavaraj (Kansas City) finished with a tie for 3rd with two day totals of 177. 

In Division 5, Stevie Frank (St. Louis) felt good coming into the Independence Open after earning her first ever win at the Orchards last weekend.  Her first found 92 was good enough to earn a 3-shot lead over some familiar D5 faces at majors: Enrique Young (Virginia Capital), Matt Walden (Utah), Don Frame (New York), and Esther Flora (St. Louis).  Stevie’s final found 93 was good enough to secure her second straight win.  Enrique Young and Selena Droce (St. Louis) finished in a tie for 2nd place while Tim Jones (St. Louis) finished in 4th with the low-round of the day and a 91.  On the senior side, Enrique Young earned a 3-shot victory over Don Frame. 


Independence Open Winners

Division 1 Champion

Ryan Eckelkamp


Division 2 Champion

Brian Taylor


Division 3 Champion

Shawn Larsen


Division 4 Champion

Justin Bennett


Division 5 Champion

Stevie Frank


Senior Division 1 Champion

Robert Connell


Senior Division 2 Champion

Brian Taylor


Senior Division 3 Champion

Simay Souvannarath


Senior Division 4 Champion

Rob Luter


Senior Division 5 Champion

Enrique Young