93rd Annual New Year’s Invitational at St. Petersburg Country Club

St. Petersburg Country Club – 2019 New Year’s Invitational

Dates:  January 3-6, 2019 (Thursday thru Sunday) – Practice rounds – Wednesday, Jan 2nd

Times:   Starting time for Thursday thru Saturday will be 11 AM (shotgun start) with a 9:30 AM shotgun start for Sunday’s final round.

Divisions:

Championship Division – 85 players under 25, 15 Mid-Amateurs, 72 holes stroke play, from the back tees (6900 yds.)

Senior Division – 12 players, 54 holes stroke play, from the middle tees (6250 yds.)

Spectators: Free admission

Trophy: Winner gets a silver bowl and Top 15 receive similar, smaller bowls.

Participants in earlier New Year’s Invitational Tournaments have gone on to win a Masters, 3 PGA Championships, along with Players’ and Tour Championships, a FedEx Cup — overall more than 40 PGA Tour tournaments and 5 US Amateur Championships.

Event History

The tournament has been held continuously since 1927, its original format was match play, changing to stroke play in 1956. Lakewood Country Club, established in 1924, changed its name to St Petersburg Country Club in 2000.

The tournament’s early decades featured mostly local competitors with a few notable exceptions.  In 1928 the winner was 17-year old Johnny Revolta, at the time serving as one of the club’s locker room attendants and part-time course ranger.  Revolta went on to a professional career with 18 victories including the 1935 PGA Championship.  Beginning in 1939, Jim Caputo of Andover, Massachusetts won six consecutive Invitationals, setting a record not likely to be eclipsed.

The first stroke play winner was Bob Goalby. He went on to a long PGA Tour career, including a Masters title in 1968.  Pete Arend, a New Jersey native who wintered in St Petersburg, set the early-72 hole record in 1959 with a 285 total.  Arend’s second round 63 remains the lowest score recorded in the tournament.

In 1965, the tournament was reduced to 54 holes, retaining that format through 1975.  Jack Veghte, one of Florida’s finest amateurs in the 1960s and 70s, produced the lowest winning total, shooting 207 in 1965. Gary Koch won in 1974 and subsequently seven times on the PGA Tour.  Buddy Alexander won the first of his six Invitational titles in 1972.  Buddy’s father, Skip Alexander, was the club’s head professional from 1951 to 1984.

In 1976, the tournament returned to 72 holes and made a concerted effort to invite some of the best amateurs from around the country.  Players from college golf powers like Wake Forest, Florida and Oklahoma State began participating on a regular basis.

Pete Arend’s scoring record of 285 set in 1959 was not bettered until 1980 when Wake Forest’s Gary Hallberg won with a 277 total.  This record stood until Buddy Alexander won his sixth Invitational in 1991 with rounds of 68-67-71-66 for a 272 total. In 1999, one of Buddy’s players at Florida, Steve Scott, lowered that record by a shot. Steve is perhaps best remembered as the runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1996 US Amateur, that final match going 39 holes.

Just a year later, Jeff Klauk from Florida Southern celebrated the millennium by shooting what remains the 72-hole record with rounds of 67-68-67-65-267.  Jeff had been runner-up in the 1998 and 1999 New Year’s but left no doubt with an 8-shot victory on his third try.

2002 marked the last victory by a mid-amateur when John Corzilius, then 40, defeated Brandt Snedeker by 3 strokes to win his third New Year’s. Between 1987 and 2004, Corzilius finished sixth or better in the Invitational 15 times, a remarkable record for consistency.

In 2003, J. B. Holmes passed third round leader Snedeker with a final round 66.  Brandt returned the favor in 2004, closing with rounds of 67-66 to beat Holmes on the 72nd hole by a shot. In 2005 Indiana’s Jeff Overton came from 5 shots behind to win. Later that summer Overton won the clinching match for a victorious US Walker Cup side.

Peter Uihlein won the 2009 Invitational and went on to win the US Amateur the same year. 2010 saw the first playoff since 1995, with Florida’s Tommy Mou defeating Michael McGowan and Nuno Henriquez on the second extra hole.  In 2011, Cal-Berkeley’s Brandon Hagy established a lead in the final round, lost it but came back with an eagle at 18 to win by a shot. 2012 witnessed another playoff, taking a record-setting six holes. Virginia Tech’s Garland Green prevailed over Tennessee-Chattanooga’s Stephan Jaeger and former USGA Junior champion Jim Liu.

Toni Hakula of the University of Texas played the last 4 holes in 5 under par to win the 2013 title. Sam Horsfield, then a high school junior, won in 2014.  Sam repeated in 2015, chipping in on the 72nd hole for an eagle to win by a shot over LSU’s Brandon Pierce.  He was unable to defend his title in 2016, missing the tournament.

2016 saw a four-way playoff. Eventual champion, Jimmy Jones (then a sophomore at Florida Southern College) prevailed over Jimmy Stanger (University of Virginia), Andrew McCain  and Joey Lane on the 2nd playoff hole with a 6ft birdie putt.  Joe Alfieri, who finished 5th overall, won the Mid-Amateur title, with Marc Dull as runner-up.

The Invitational established a senior division in 1983. Having been through several format modifications, in 2009 the competition settled on a 54-hole event ending Saturday, all senior play from the white tees.  Several notable amateurs have won our senior division, including famed golf artist Bud Chapman and former New Year’s winners Bob Rankin and Phil Leckey. In 2012 Jim Holbrook added a second senior title to his 2009 win and, at 70, became the senior division’s oldest winner.  Tom Hyland won in 2013 and 2014.  Dennis Monahan, one of our area’s best senior players, shot even par 216 to win in 2015 and again in 2016 – but only managed a 3rd place in 2018. Jimmy Jones, Sr won it in 2018 with a 223 in wet and windy conditions.

Players who have played in New Year’s Invitational

Major Champions – Bob Goalby, Bob Tway, Jason Dufner, Johnny Revolta

Players Championship Winners – Craig Perks

Tour Championship Winners – Brandt Snedeker

PGA Tour Winners – Bob Murphy, Gary Koch, Gary Hallberg, Robert Wrenn, Mike Nicolette, Rocco Mediate, Len Mattiace,  Ryuji Imada, JB Holmes

Other Tour Players – Eddie Pearce, Vance Heafner, Mike Donald, Marco Dawson, Bob Friend, Lee Porter, Darron Stiles, Jeff Klauk, Akio Sadakata, Jeff Overton, Luke List, Larry Rinker, Lee Rinker, Mike Sposa, Bud Cauley, Peter Malnati, Jon Curran

US Amateur Champs – Bob Murphy, Buddy Alexander, Nathaniel Crosby, Peter Uihlein, Gunn Yang

Total wins on PGA Tour by NYI participants 74

Total wins on Web.com/Nationwide Tour 20

5 Ryder Cup Team appearances

2 Presidents Cup Team appearances

More than 20 major amateur titles incl. Western, Trans-Mississippi, Southern, North and South and Porter Cup

NYI Winners since 2000 who moved on to PGA Tour/Web.com Tour/European Tour

2000    Jeff Klauk                     PGA Tour 2009-2013 – set tournament record (21 under par 267)

2001    Akio Sadakata             PGA Tour 2003, currently on Japanese Tour

2003    J B Holmes                  PGA Tour 2006-present          4 victories; 223 cuts made, $23.5M in winnings

2004    Brandt Snedeker         PGA Tour, 2007-present 12 victories; 228 cuts made, $35.5M in winnings

2005    Jeff Overton                PGA Tour, 2006-present 4 2nds, won more than $12M

2006    Luke List                      PGA Tour, 2013 now back on Web.Com Tour

2009    Peter Uihlein               European Tour, 2013-present 1 victory, 2013 Madeira Islands Open

2011    Brandon Hagy             Web.com Tour made 11 cuts, finished 19th on money list in’16, eligible for PGA tour

2013    Toni Hakula                 Spent 2015 on Canadian tour made 3 cuts in 10 starts

About Author

Bruz Fellenz

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