By CRAIG DOLCH
Special to South Florida PGAÂ
FORT LAUDERDALE – Greg O’Mahony of Stuart fired a 2-under 70 Tuesday to win the Fort Lauderdale Open by a shot over six players.
The 34-year-old O’Mahony pursued a PGA Tour career until five years ago when he took a job as vice president of sales and operations for Stuart-based Celtic Golf.
Instead of playing golf for a living, he arranged dream golf trips for others. Tuesday turned out to be a dream day for O’Mahony as he emerged from a crowded leaderboard at Fort Lauderdale Country Club to win the year’s first major championship in the South Florida PGA season. It was his first South Florida PGA event.
“It was an adventure,” O’Mahony said. “When I stopped playing golf in 2016, I didn’t touch a club for two years. I was burned out. It turns out that was the best thing I could have done because it rekindled my love for the game.” O’Mahony joined the PGA South Florida section last year, but didn’t get a chance to compete because of COVID-19. His return to tournament golf proved to be worth the wait.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I got to see a lot of friends I haven’t seen in a long time. My nerves aren’t what they used to be, but it was a blast. I joined the South Florida section because I wanted to be peers of these guys.”
Tied for second at 4-under 140 were Brett Blackburn (68) of Verandah Golf Club, Alan Morin (68) of The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, Taylor Collins (69) of Coral Ridge, Kenneth Leech (70) of Don Law Academy, Justin McCarraher (70) of Fiddlesticks and first-round leader Zack Vervaecke (73) of Troon.
Brett Melton (71) of Palm City tied for eighth at 3-under 141 with Jeremy Wells (71) of Estero.
Loretta Giovannettone almost made history by becoming the first woman to win a South Florida PGA major championship. Giovannettone, a Jupiter resident who works as a PGA Teaching Professional at High Ridge Country Club, was leading at the turn at 5-under. But she shot a 4-over 40 on the back and finished tied for 13th.
In the Senior Division, Gene Fieger of Naples cruised to a six-shot victory. Fieger took a four-shot lead after opening with a 7-under 65 Monday and added a 3-under 69 Tuesday to finish at 10-under 134. Fieger won the overall title in the Fort Lauderdale Open in 2001. Palm City’s Pete Oakley (69-140), who won the 2004 Senior British Open, tied for second place with David Cunliffe (69) of Boca Raton and Morin.
Stuart’s Jerry Tucker (73) was fifth at 141.
The Fort Lauderdale Open, run by the South Florida PGA, is the year’s first major championship for South Florida PGA Professionals. Supporting partners are ATHALONZ, Global Golf Sales, Hedrick Brothers, Leupold Golf, Nexbelt and PGA TOUR.
View full leaderboard here.