The Highlands County Ryder Cup takes center stage this weekend at Sun ‘n Lake Golf Club.
The friendly competition between the local professionals and some of the top amateurs in the county has been going on for many years.
The professionals lead in the overall series 13-10 and have won eight consecutive events. The amateurs won the first six years the competition was held.
“The Ryder Cup is a great event and one we all enjoy competing in,” said Sun ‘n Lake Golf Club professional Andy Kesling. “The pro team has dominated the last eight years, but the amateur team is very strong this year. The course is in the best shape I’ve ever seen it in and we’re looking forward to having fun and enjoying a great weekend of golf.”
The formidable professional team consists of Kesling, Mike Lamere, JJ Acevedo, Tom Grammas, Jason Beatty, Cody Brownell, Rene Brown, Bill Davis, Travis Kennedy, Courtney Gose, Dave Schumaker, Nic Staffieri, John Dean, Bob Forward, Bruce Moellendick and Ian Landry.
“We have some solid players on the pro team,” said Kesling. “We don’t get to practice much but we’re going to give it our best.”
The talented amateur team consists of Blake Liles, Ryan Chandler, Mike Browning, Rick Hass, Mike Hammond, Pete Delongchamp, Jeff Klingbiel, Mark Stockeland, Mark Hopkins, Mike Moore and John Vicker Jr. Alternates are Greg Long and Clay Davis.
“The amateur team is the strongest its been in a number of years,” Kesling said. “Blake Liles is the County Amateur Champion, Pete Delongchamp is the Sun ‘n Lake Club Champion, Mike Hammond and Mark Stockeland are very good and Ryan Chandler used to be a professional but has regained his amateur status. It should be very competitive this weekend.”
Action gets underway at 8 a.m. Saturday morning with six best-ball matches. Six alternate-shot matches will be played Saturday afternoon. Sunday is the final day with 13 singles matches set to be played.
There is a total of 25 points up for grabs in the two-day competition.
As defending champions, the pro team would keep the Ryder Cup in case of a tie, and needs a total of 14 points to retain the Highlands County Ryder Cup.
Saturday’s matches will be played on the tight and demanding Deer Run course, while Sunday’s important singles matches will be played on the Turtle Run course.
The public is invited to come out and watch some excellent golf at no charge. There is a $17 fee if you rent a golf cart.
“We invite the public to come out because there will be some really good golf being played by both teams,” Kesling said. Both courses are in incredible shape and the greens are fast and rolling true. We’re excited about the event and I’m looking forward to getting out there competing and having fun.”