As featured in TC Palm, Contributed by Craig Dolch.
One of the most competitive events on the South Florida PGA schedule is being held this week on the Treasure Coast.
The South Florida PGA Professional Championship is being contested Tuesday and Wednesday at Sailfish Point Golf Club in Stuart.
At stake is more than a trophy and bragging rights. The top eight finishers qualify for the Senior PGA Professional Championship in mid-October at Twin Warriors and Santa Ana in New Mexico.
Defending champion Jack Shoenfelt, Director of Golf Operations at Oriole Golf Club in Pompano Beach, is in the field along with former champions Jerry Tucker (four wins) of Stuart, Mike San Filippo (three) of Hobe Sound, Lee Rinker (three) of Jupiter, Dan Heaslip and John Lee of Naples, Chris Campbell of Vero Beach and Dennis Meyer.
Victor Tortorici, the longest-tenured PGA Professional on the Treasure Coast and Director of Golf at Sailfish Club, also is in the field.
In each of the last 18 years, the winning score in this championship has been less than 140, meaning players usually have to shoot a pair of rounds in the 60s – at one of South Florida’s top courses – to have a chance to have their name added to the list of champions.
It’s easy to see why the South Florida PGA Professional Championship is tough to win.
Not only do a lot of top players migrate to South Florida in their late-40s to enhance their chances of playing on the PGA Tour Champions, but for the last two decades they have had the opportunity to fine-tune their competitive skills because of the presence of the Treasure Coast Senior Tour, co-founded by Tucker and Roger Kennedy Sr.
Not surprisingly, a TCST regular, Mark Mielke of High Ridge Country Club, shot a 5-under 67 Tuesday to share the lead with Ben Stewart of Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach.
A familiar name was near the top of the leaderboard after the first round: Alan Morin, a PGA Assistant Professional at The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach. Morin shot a 4-under 68 and is tied for third place with Gene Fieger of Club Pelican Bay.
Morin has won Player of the Year honors in the South Florida PGA a record 11 times, and added POY honors the last two years in the Senior Division.
The South Florida PGA Professional Championship is one of the few South Florida PGA tournaments Morin has yet to win, but that may soon change.
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