“It’s been almost a year since Andy Pope competed in a professional tournament, but he ended the week with a trophy at the Florida Open Championship, taking home a $15,000 first-place check.
Pope shot 3-under 68 on Sunday to clinch his 76th Florida Open title and secured a three-time win with 15-under 199 in the championship with rounds of 68-63-68. This is Pope’s first professional victory since 2013.
“Any time you can win a competition with 156 riders, that’s quite an achievement,” said Pope. “Being in the last group and making it to the end today means a lot. Especially representing Florida and The FSGA and the history that goes with it, it’s pretty cool to have your name engraved on the trophy.
After taking a 36-hole lead with a 63 in the second round, Pope began to slow down in the final round with a bogey in the second round. Derek Bard, a former amateur finalist from the United States, started in the top nine, playing his first eight holes under 3 to take the lead under 11.
After reaching a par-5 eighth place in two, Pope made his first bird of the day and regained the lead with a score of 12 under. A lead that will hold until the end of the championship. The Orange Tree Golf Club member continued rolling from behind, birding 11th and 12th to extend his lead to three strokes at 14-under.
“The pins were tucked in so much that I knew the guys wouldn’t be able to shoot 6-under or 7-under and chase me,” said Pope. “I thought if I played solid I would have a good chance.”
After playing another four holes evenly, Pope hit the 17th and hit 3 woods up on the green to 20 feet, throwing a putt for the eagle to go 16-under to win the championship and four shots leading from one hole to play. He finished bogey 18th and secured a championship win with a final round of 68.
“I haven’t looked at the scoreboard all day. I just focused on my game and knew when I hit 18 and heard the applause that it was enough,” said Pope, coming off the green as the 76th Florida Open Champion. Pope and Bradenton Country Club general manager Dave Taylor played many rounds together in the Orlando area for over 20 years and the handshake as champion on the 18th green meant a lot to them.
This is the first FSGA championship win for Pope, who played in his third Florida Open championship. Pope’s 63 points in the second round was tied for the lowest round of the championship, and his 15 under 199 in the championship is the second-lowest total in Florida Open history.
“I had high expectations, but when you’re not playing competitively, it’s a different game,” said Pope. “You leave here and all of a sudden maybe you don’t trust your stuff so much. It was nice to put everything on one card again, run the juices and feel the nerves. “
Derek Bard and Pete Kellerman took semi-second place, scoring 12 under 202 and taking home $7,187.50 each. Daniel Robinson finished fourth with a score of 10 under 204, ending the weekend with 66-68-70 rounds and collecting $4583.
Nathan Bertsch shot 67 in the final round, earning low amateur honors and finishing ninth with an 8 under 206. The Sarasota native took an eagle and three birds in the final round to earn honors. Jacob Penny, an amateur, scored 66 points in the final round, finishing 20th with a 4 under 210. His final round of 66 was the lowest round of the day.
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