Photo | Tommy Hicks
Playing through brief rain showers throughout the day, navigating the Azalea City Golf Club layout and fending off a pair of competitors, Sheldon Statkewicz managed all the challenges placed in front of him Sunday to claim the 65th annual Mobile Metro golf tournament championship for the second time.
He also won the crown in 2018 and each of the players in the final threesome of the day — Statkewicz, Gregory Jones and Price Brown — had previously won Mobile Metro Junior championships as well.
But the tournament would belong to Statkewicz, the former Spring Hill College golfer who produced solid, under-par play from start to finish. He opened the tournament with a round of 66 on Friday to take a two-shot lead, then followed with a 69 to head into Sunday’s 36 holes of play with a comfortable three-shot advantage over Brown. He remained in the lead after the first 18 holes on Sunday and used the final round to separate himself from the other challengers.
Statkewicz turned in a scorecard of 66-69-70-70—275, which is 13-under par on the par 72 Azalea City layout. Jones finished second with a 68-71-71-74—284 scorecard, with Brown shooting 68-70-70-79—287 to finish third.
“Four rounds under par, just steady play and good ball-striking. That’s all you’ve got to do to get around this course and shoot under par,” Statkewicz said. “The rain wasn’t a big issue. The wind was swirling around in different directions so it just took us a little longer to figure things out. But everybody had to play in it. The scores were lower the first two days, but you have to play with what you’ve got, I guess.”
All three of the top finishers in the 72-hole Championship Flight will be heading to Birmingham this week to compete in the Alabama State Amateur golf tournament at Pine Tree Country Club. Statkewicz said playing at Azalea City this week against good competition and on a course with similarities to Pine Tree — and especially winning — was a good warm-up for the state amateur event.
“It’s always good to get a win, no matter how many people play in the field,” he said. “It’s good to get some confidence for the next tournament. That’s really all you want to do in golf is keep building on good play and keep it going forward. I’m real excited for [this] weekend.
“There’s a lot of doglegs off the tees [at Pine Tree and Azalea City], so it’s good to come out here and get four rounds in and hitting it left, right and all the ball flights. It gets you ready to go for next week.”
Winning the Mobile Metro at Azalea City is special, Statkewicz said.
“It means a lot. This is my home course so obviously, I want to win when they have a tournament out here and this is the biggest one they’ve got so I always look forward to playing in it.”
Statkewicz said he intends to play a few more amateur events this summer and then embark on a professional golf career. He is also trying to qualify for the U.S. Amateur and if he is successful in that quest, he’ll remain an amateur through that tournament in August. If he doesn’t qualify for the U.S. Amateur, he said he’ll make his pro debut in the Alabama Open in July.
Jeff Darst took home the Senior Division championship. Darst turned in a three-day, 54-hole total of 224. He improved his score each round, opening with a 77 on Friday and following with a 74 on Saturday and a 73 on Sunday.
“I played real consistent and solid,” Darst said of his 54 holes of play. “I had a couple of wicked, what I call toe-tap hooks, and I ended up [having trouble]. [Saturday] I was 2-under coming into nine and hit a big toe-tap hook left and we couldn’t find the ball; I had two lost balls. But outside of those, I played pretty solid. The golf course is in good shape and I appreciate Azalea for putting on the tournament.”
The consistency of Darst’s play was the leading factor in his victory. He said he had been playing well, for the most part, heading into the Mobile Metro event.
“If you look at my scores they were going down each day,” he said. “I’ve been playing well lately. I tried to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open and other than four golf swings I played some of the best golf I’ve played. It’s just that now I’ve got a couple of things to work on with my driving, where I put myself in a bad place. I did that several times here in this tournament.
“A couple of weeks ago we played the Lite Scratch Tour over at Rock Creek and I think I was third. I played great on the back side of the course, but on the front side, I played horrible. I had a chance to win it, just had a bad back side [which was the front nine for the tournament]. I’m real close. I’ve been playing some really good golf.”
Fred Clausell took second-place honors in the Senior Division with a 54-hole score of 234. He opened the tournament with a 71. Greg Smith and Sam Morrow finished tied for third, both players turning in rounds of 238.
All other flights were contested in 36 holes of play, 18 holes on Saturday and Sunday. In the First Flight, Will Daigle took top honors in gross score with a 73-75—148 scorecard. William Phillips placed second in gross competition with a 75-78—153 scorecard. In the net score division of the First Flight, Patrick McDonald took top honors, shooting 68-75—143, while second place went to Marty Fike with a scorecard of 75-69—144.
In the Second Flight, the gross score title was won by Bill Suttle. He shot 80-77—157 and won by 14 shots. Ronnie Stokes took second in the gross score division with a scorecard of 83-88—153. Ryan Aiyer was the net division winner in the Second Flight, shooting 73-75—148. He edged out Eric Jones by one shot. Jones’s scorecard read 79-70—149.
In the Gold Tee Flight, Alan Darby claimed top honors in the gross score division, shooting 72-76—148. Joe Sherrod was second in the division with a scorecard of 73-77—150. In the net score division of the Gold Tee Flight, Billy Boyd finished first with a 71-74—145 scorecard, edging out Joe Sherrod who had a scorecard of 71-75—146.
Parmar runner-up in Chanticleer
Fairhope’s Robert Parmar placed second in the Super Senior Division of the annual Chanticleer National Senior Invitational golf tournament in Greenville, S.C., last weekend. The event is played on the Chanticleer Course of the Greenville Country Club.
The 54-hole tournament was won by Greenville Country Club member John Dennis, who turned in a three-day score of 1-over 217. Parmar had rounds of 76, 72 and 75 to finish at 7-over 223. Fairhope’s George Walker also played in the event’s Super Senior Division, but he did not make the cut for the final 18 holes of play.
Shelton makes cut at Memorial
Wilmer’s Robby Shelton, the former St. Paul’s and University of Alabama standout, finished tied for 32nd in last weekend’s Memorial Golf Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, also known as the tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus, who designed the course.
It marked the second consecutive week Shelton has made the cut in a PGA Tour event. He turned in scores of 71-71-73-74 for a 72-hole total of 1-over-par 289.
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