NAPLES (July 24, 2020) – Michael Kartrude and amateur Brad Wheatley proved once again Friday it’s not how you start in golf, it’s how you finish.
Despite opening with a triple bogey on the par-5 first hole, the Palm Beach County residents shot a 9-under 63 – making an eagle at No. 17 – to win the South Florida
PGA Pro-Scratch Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.
“The first hole was just a disaster,” said Kartrude, a PGA Professional at the Bear’s Club who won last month’s E-Z-GO South Florida Open. “We walked off the first green and said, ‘What just happened? We’re 3-over, let’s try to get under par by the turn so we have a chance to do something on the back nine.’ "
Kartrude and Wheatley made five birdies on the next eight holes to turn at 2-under 34. They added five consecutive birdies on the back nine and took their first lead of the best-ball event with an eagle on the 17th hole, when Kartrude hit a 7-iron to 5 feet and made the putt. The final-nine 29 on the Gold Course left them at 17-under 127, a shot ahead of Justin Smith and amateur Kyle Parsons of Bonita Bay West.
“I don’t know of anyone who has made a triple bogey on the first hole and won,” Kartrude said. “Once we made the triple, we forgot about winning and just tried to focus on hitting good shots. It was a team effort.”
Kartrude earned $2,800 for the victory in the first Pro-Scratch event held by the South Florida PGA at 36 holes. Wheatley, an assistant caddie master at the Bear’s Club, received a $500 gift certificate.
Smith and Parsons matched the winner’s 63 in a more conventional fashion, making seven birdies and an eagle. Justin Ahasic and Remi Chartier (64) were third at 14-under 130.
A familiar name – NFL tight end Nick O’Leary, a grandson of legend Jack Nicklaus – teamed with PGA professional Ryan Fountain of the Bear’s Club to shoot 67 and finish tied for fourth at 131.
O’Leary is taking a break from the NFL this season after recently undergoing a heart procedure. Playing golf is one of the few activities O’Leary can do while he recovers. O’Leary told his grandad his golf game would improve, and he was correct.
“Nick is a really good athlete and a really good golfer, probably a scratch golfer,” Kartrude said. “He has the capability of making multiple birdies and eagles. He’s got a really good short game.”
The Pro-Scratch Championship included another notable: former Major League Baseball pitcher Derek Lowe, who partnered with Brian Stewart of the Club at Renaissance to finish tied for 34th (71-141).
The Pro-Scratch Championship, run by the South Florida PGA, is sponsored by Bushnell Golf, Golf Pro Payments, PXG, Scales, Signature Golf and True Spec Golf.