13th Annual Ocala Open
By Ray Cech
World New Writer
It was a beautiful morning, Tuesday, March 12, as the Pro-Am teams teed off in the 13th annual Ocala Open. The Candler Hills Golf Course was in exquisite condition to welcome 35 professional golfers and their amateur partners.
Closing out their day on the course, amateurs and pros were treated to a buffet lunch at The Lodge at Candler Hills, followed by awards and applauds for the winners. John Elliott was the low pro with a finishing score of 67. The winning amateur team was led by professional Cory Howard with Jason Russ, Michael Russ, and Michael Downing contributing their amateur, winning ways.
After lunch and the awards ceremony, Kenneth Colen and his staff took the stage. Sponsors this year were exceptionally generous, allowing Mr. Colen to proudly donate checks to Hospice of Marion County and Interfaith Emergency Services. Each received a check in the amount of $45,000, the largest contributions ever donated to these charities from the Ocala Open.
Wednesday morning greeted 135 professional golfers, and by days end, they turned in some amazing scores. T.T. Crouch went on a tear, with a 63 on the par 71 golf course. He sank eight birdies with not one bogey on his score card. He went into Thursday’s round with a one-shot lead over Jeremy Grab and Brian Davis.
And while he didn’t match Wednesday’s low round on Thursday, the 27-year-old Crouch was still leading with 14 under going into Friday’s final round. Right behind him was Jeremy Grab at 13 under. Seth Fair and Ted Moon finished Thursday two strokes behind Grab.
Fifty-nine players made the cut for Friday’s final round. Crouch, the leader going into the round, looked like he might keep up his winning ways — he did, but not quite good enough to hold off the charge of his playing partner, 23-year-old, John Grab. Striking with a used putter recently given to him by his dad, Grab birdied the last five holes. His 18 under bested T.T. Crouch by two strokes, giving him first place prize money of $12,000. Crouch’s second place earnings were $8,000.
This was the 13th year that the Candler Hills Golf Club hosted the Ocala Open. The fact that it gets better every year isn’t by happenstance. It is because of the dedication and hard work of those committed to making the tournament such a special event. And a loud shout-out must go to all the volunteers who donated their time and energy — thank you.