Eustis' Nahal Wins State Match Play

TAMPA, FL – Raj Nahal defeated Chris Kennedy 1- up in the final match to win the 16th Amateur Match Play Championship at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach on August 9-12.

After wining five matches each, Nahal, of Eustis, and Kennedy, from Bradenton, met in the finals of the 2007 Championship.

“I was excited to play Chris since I knew him from junior golf,” said Nahal. “I knew it was going to be a good match.” Nahal, 19, a University of South Florida sophomore, took an early lead after making birdie on the second hole. “I made double on that hole twice this week so I just played it safe and hit the ball in the middle of the green,” said Nahal. “That gave me a lot of confidence.” Kennedy, an incoming freshman at University of North Florida, brought the match back to even with a par on #3. Nahal birdied the 5th hole and made par on the 6th hole to go 2-up. “I was just hitting the ball well and putting it in the fairway,” said Nahal. The match was all square after Kennedy birdied holes seven and 11. Nahal then went 2-up after Kennedy couldn’t get up and down and made two consecutive bogeys on holes 15 and 16. Nahal stuck to his game plan of “making pars and letting my opponent make the mistakes.” Kennedy narrowed the gap to one winning the 17th hole. On 18, Kennedy’s 15-foot birdie putt lipped out to give Nahal his first State Championship.

“It was a grind,” said Nahal. “I’ve been working hard this summer so this feels great.” Recently, Nahal finished second in the Orlando City Amateur.

It was a long, hot week of an 18-hole seeding round and two rounds of match play each day. “With every match, I got smarter,” said Nahal. “I learned to play the person not stroke play.” Nahal earned the 12th seed after posting even par in the seeding round.

In the first round of match play, Nahal knocked off 2006 Mid-Amateur Champion Bret Voisin, of Orlando, 6 and 4. He went on to beat Benjamin Perdue, of Chipley, in the Round of 32 and then edged out two-time State Champion Kevin Aylwin, of New Smyrna Beach, in the Round of 16 in 19 holes. “It was a really good match,” said Nahal. “I was down early but started making some putts to pull through.” In the quarters, Nahal was 1-up after nine holes and continued on to win three consecutive holes to beat Christian Blanchet, of Gainesville, 5 and 4. In his semifinal match versus Florida State University golfer Nicholas Smith, of Ocala, Nahal won 1-up securing his spot in the finals. On the 18th hole, Smith hit his ball into the water to allow Nahal to close out the match. “I just played consistently and let him make the mistake,” said Nahal. Overall, “It was a pretty stressful week,” said Nahal. “It was fun; I like match play.”

Since the number of entries received has always surpassed the capacity of the Championship, a qualifying stage was instituted this year. In the qualifying, players competed in 18 holes of stroke play in hopes of reaching the Championship at Sawgrass. The Match Play Championship began with an 18-hole seeding round to seed the 64 player field. Single elimination match play followed to determine the Match Play Champion.

To view complete results, please see www.fsga.org.

Organized in 1913, the Florida State Golf Association is a not-for-profit organization that governs amateur golf in the state of Florida. In addition to conducting 25 championships for amateur golfers in the state, the FSGA is responsible for more than 40 qualifying tournaments for USGA National Championships and the Florida Junior Tour. The FSGA also maintains the USGA Handicap System, performs course ratings throughout Florida and assists in junior programs and scholarships.

Round of 64
Judson Eustaquio, Lake Worth (67) def. Benjamin Shulman, Saint Leo (84),4 and 3
Tommy Parker, Palm Beach (76) def. Sam Rosati, Oldsmar (76),4 and 2
Brad Stainsby, Lakeland (73) def. Joel Durrance, Ocala (79),4 and 3
Eric Beringer, Delray Beach (73) def. George Fitzgerald, Coral Gables (79),4 and 3
J.C. Horne, Ormond Beach (71) def. Derek Camps, Celebration (81),5 and 4
Jon Veneziano, Mount Dora (75) def. Tommy Dudley, Jacksonville (77),2 and 1
Brent Dorman, Ocala (72) def. Jared Campbell, Margate (80),2 and 1
Nicholas Smith, Ocala (77) def. Jeff Dennis, Parkland (74), 4 and 3
Craig Watson, Palm Beach Gardens (81) def. Wills Reardon, Stuart (70),3 and 2
Max Kern, Sarasota (75) def. Lance Gillett, Cocoa Beach (76),3 and 2
Christian Blanchet, Gainesville (72) def. Doug Philp, Tampa (80),5 and 4
Ian Ross, Jacksonville Beach (78) def. Tory Carli, Sanford (74),7 and 6
Kevin Aylwin, New Smyrna Beach (70) def. Keith Martin, Gibsonton (81),5 and 4
Cameron Knight, Dade City (75) def. Jeff Golden, Winter Park (76),1 up
Raj Nahal, Eustis (72) def. Bret Voisin, Orlando (80),6 and 4
Benjamin Perdue, Chipley (74) def. Charlie Grace, Windermere (78),1 up
Tyson Alexander, Gainesville (68) def. Jeff Kaufman, Davie (84),4 and 3
Chris Toomy, Parkland (76) def. Niti Varavut, Oviedo (76),3 and 2
Gregory Della-Pietra, Stuart (79) def. Douglas Dvorak, Windermere (73),5 and 4
Danny Mayer, Winter Park (73) def. Doug Snoap, Apopka (79),2 up
Juan Aller, Miramar (71) def. Ken Roy, Jacksonville (81),4 and 3
Porter Smith, Odessa (77) def. Barrett Hough, Saint Augustine (75),4 and 3
Jack Hinton, Tampa (80) def. Olin Browne, Hobe Sound (72),5 and 4
Jonathan Hughes, Panama City (74) def. Kenneth Ezell, Apopka (77),4 and 3
Chris Kennedy, Bradenton (70) def. Andy Purnell, Jacksonville (82),19 holes
Preston Roberts, Debary (75) def. Carl Santos-Ocampo, Naples (76),5 and 3
Chris Condello, Heathrow (72) def. Justin Meier, Oldsmar (80),3 and 2
Gordon Love, Naples (79) def. Marc Dull, Winter Haven (73),2 and 1
Justin Jones, Jacksonville (71) def. Zachary Zehnder, Indian Rocks Beach (81),2 and 1
Gavin Cambre, Orlando (77) def. Ken Moody, Ponte Vedra Beach (75),3 and 2
Will Sprague, Jacksonville (72) def. Noi Chay, Land O' Lakes (80),3 and 2
Patrick Lamb, Lake Wales (77) def. Kyle Lepore, Ponte Vedra Beach (74),2 and 1

Round of 32
Tommy Parker, Palm Beach (76) def. Judson Eustaquio, Lake Worth (67),2 and 1
Eric Beringer, Delray Beach (73) def. Brad Stainsby, Lakeland (73),20 holes
Jon Veneziano, Mount Dora (75) def. J.C. Horne, Ormond Beach (71),2 and 1
Nicholas Smith, Ocala (77) def. Brent Dorman, Ocala (72),4 and 3
Craig Watson, Palm Beach Gardens (81) def. Max Kern, Sarasota (75),2 and 1
Christian Blanchet, Gainesville (72) def. Ian Ross, Jacksonville Beach (78),2 and 1
Kevin Aylwin, New Smyrna Beach (70) def. Cameron Knight, Dade City (75),2 up
Raj Nahal, Eustis (72) def. Benjamin Perdue, Chipley (74),3 and 2
Tyson Alexander, Gainesville (68) def. Chris Toomy, Parkland (76),5 and 4
Gregory Della-Pietra, Stuart (79) def. Danny Mayer, Winter Park (73),1 up
Juan Aller, Miramar (71) def. Porter Smith, Odessa (77),4 and 3
Jonathan Hughes, Panama City (74) def. Jack Hinton, Tampa (80),3 and 2
Chris Kennedy, Bradenton (70) def. Preston Roberts, Debary (75),5 and 4
Chris Condello, Heathrow (72) def. Gordon Love, Naples (79),4 and 2
Justin Jones, Jacksonville (71) def. Gavin Cambre, Orlando (77),4 and 3
Will Sprague, Jacksonville (72) def. Patrick Lamb, Lake Wales (77),19 holes

Round of 16
Tommy Parker, Palm Beach (76) def. Eric Beringer, Delray Beach (73),2 and 1
Nicholas Smith, Ocala (77) def. Jon Veneziano, Mount Dora (75),4 and 3
Christian Blanchet, Gainesville (72) def. Craig Watson, Palm Beach Gardens (81),4 and 3
Raj Nahal, Eustis (72) def. Kevin Aylwin, New Smyrna Beach (70),19 holes
Tyson Alexander, Gainesville (68) def. Gregory Della-Pietra, Stuart (79),3 and 2
Juan Aller, Miramar (71) def. Jonathan Hughes, Panama City (74),1 up
Chris Kennedy, Bradenton (70) def. Chris Condello, Heathrow (72),2 and 1
Justin Jones, Jacksonville (71) def. Will Sprague, Jacksonville (72),3 and 2

Quarterfinal

Nicholas Smith, Ocala (77) def. Tommy Parker, Palm Beach (76),5 and 4
Raj Nahal, Eustis (72) def. Christian Blanchet, Gainesville (72),5 and 4
Tyson Alexander, Gainesville (68) def. Juan Aller, Miramar (71),4 and 3
Chris Kennedy, Bradenton (70) def. Justin Jones, Jacksonville (71),3 and 2

Semifinal
Raj Nahal, Eustis (72) def. Nicholas Smith, Ocala (77),1 up
Chris Kennedy, Bradenton (70) def. Tyson Alexander, Gainesville (68),2 and 1

Final
Raj Nahal, Eustis (72) def. Chris Kennedy, Bradenton (70),1 up

 

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