By Craig Dolch
Special to South Florida PGA
NAPLES – Jeremy Wells and Marc Skillrud birdied the last eight holes – that’s correct, the last eight holes -- Thursday to shoot 10-under 62 and win the South Florida PGA Pro-Assistant Championship by a shot over Ryan Fountain and Eric Veilleux of the Bear’s Club.
The closing stretch of birdies by Wells and Skillrud, the Director of Instruction and Assistant Golf Professional, respectively, at Cypress Lake Country Club in Fort Myers enabled them to fire an 8-under 28 on TPC Treviso Bay’s back nine and overtake Fountain and Veilleux. They finished at 16-under 128.
Using a scramble format on the back nine, Wells hit a 5-iron to 8 feet at the par-3 17th and Skillrud made the birdie putt to give them the lead for the first time all day. On the par-5 18th hole, Wells hit a 3-wood over the green and got up-and-down for birdie, making an 8-footer for the win.
“We definitely knew the situation,” Wells said. “When I get nervous, I try to think about my two kids and that’s what I did. It’s a good distraction."
“I’m proud of my partner for hanging in there. He felt like he might be a little bit of a liability going in because I have a little better playing record, but I told him after the back nine he was one of the best partners I ever had. He made a lot of key putts for us and really shined on the back nine.”
Said Skillrud: “It means a lot for him to say that. Everybody knows Jeremy is one of the best players in the section and he’s played with a lot of great players over the years. I’ve never been a part of something like that before. It was pretty special.”
Veilleux, the Head Golf Professional, and Fountain, an Assistant Golf Professional, at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, also finished impressively, with six birdies and three pars on the back nine. But it wasn’t enough to stop the late heroics from Wells and Skillrud.
“We were fortunate to be paired with Eric and Ryan because they both were playing great,” Wells said. “That was some of the best golf I’ve seen in our group in the South Florida PGA. We just had to put our heads down and try to catch them.”
It’s not often a team shoots 65-64 and loses by a shot, no matter the format. But that’s what happened to Fountain and Veilleux, who finished six shots ahead of third place.
“It was a great match,” Veilleux said. “We put a lot of heat on them, and they answered the bell. That’s a first (to lose to eight closing birdies), but all you can do is tip your hat to them. We were proud of the way we played.”
Assistant Golf Professional Rick Sutton and Director of Golf Jeff Waber of Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton shot 68 at Naples National and finished third at 9-under 135.
Three teams tied for fourth place at 8-under 136: Director of Golf Brian Stewart and Head Golf Professional Sean McGinness of Club at Renaissance (67), Head Golf Professional Alastair Mackenzie and Assistant Golf Professional Will Coleman of Mayacoo Lakes (67) and Master Professional Bob Ford and Assistant Golf Professional Matt Cahill of Seminole Golf Club (71). Cahill is replacing Ford as Seminole’s Head Professional.
The Pro-Assistant Championship is run by the South Florida PGA with Adidas, Biolyte, Club Car, Global Golf Sales, Golf Pro Payments, Ikonik, TaylorMade and Vortex as supporting partners.
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