Carroll storms to Jacksonville Amateur golf title

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Middleburg High and University of North Florida player Cody Carroll added yet another impressive title with a birdie on the final hole to win the 59th Jacksonville Amateur Golf Championship.

Carroll closed with a 5-under 67 to finish the 54-hole tournament at 7-under 206.

Second-place Pierre Viallaneix (6-under 207) and St. Johns’ Toby Ragland (1-under 212) were the only players who were under par.

The event was hosted by the Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association at the Jacksonville Beach Golf Club. The final round of the three-day tournament was on Saturday.

"There is nothing more satisfying than finishing off a tournament with the win, especially like that," said Carroll. "I bogeyed the first hole, a sloppy bogey on 4, then I made three pars, until I rattled off four birdies in a row from [Nos.] 5 to 8 to go from four down to two up for the final couple of holes. I birdied five which I think is the toughest hole on the course."

Carroll got stronger toward the finish with a birdie on the 13th to stay one up on Viallaneix.

"I had a really nice wedge shot on 13," said Carroll. "My strategy for each hole is to execute the best shot for my ability and not let what is going on around me affect that. In four holes, I made up six shots."

Viallaneix made the finish more dramatic with two birdies before the walk to the 18th tee box. In the final hole's dramatic finish, Viallaneix took a stab at rattling Carroll with an eagle score that forced Carroll to re-strategize his approach.

"He played for the green on his drive and wound up about 30 yards short of the green on his drive then made his pitch for the eagle," said Carroll. "I had another incredibly good wedge shot to set up the putt for the win."

The tournament included three women invitees. Defending U.S. Amateur champion Gabriela Ruffels, Ponte Vedra’s Hannah Stevens and Tori Mouton all failed to make the cut.

Other local players who finished among the Top 40 included: Grant Sutliff (2-over 205) in seventh, Rob Webster III (5-over 218) in 11th, Stewart Slayden (7-over 220) in 18th, Kip Webber and Michael Smith (9-over 222) in 22nd, Chris Solomon (10-over 223) in 31st and Jake Newman (20-over 233) in 40th.

Carroll has challenged himself with a series of tournaments around the country before returning to University of North Florida. With college nationwide responding to the COVID-19 situation, Carroll plans to continue his off-course fitness regimen while preparing for his junior season at UNF.

"I've played in two pretty big amateur tournaments in Dallas and in South Carolina and the pressure of the moment was not as much as you might think," said Carroll. "The finish at the Unbridled Tour was a good confidence builder, but the Texas event was one of the biggest amateur events in the world."

Viallaneix kept pace with Carroll torrid weekend with a 71 in the first round, followed by a 66 in the second to set up the final round theatrics. Viallaneix closed with a 1-under 70 in with a traumatic double-bogie on the eighth hole that gave Carroll the opening he needed.

"He hit his drive out of bounds and had to re-hit his drive," said Carroll. "Even though it was an opportunity, I stay more aware of just adjusting my strategy to what is playing out in front of me. It's an everchanging strategy."

Carroll third round drama seemed to make the crafty late round veteran even more energized with a three putt on this very first hole causing some trepidation. Carroll remained four shots off Villaneix pace after five holes before Carroll buckled up and hit the throttle with four straight putts for birdie (12-footer), par (18-footer) with two short putts making the dramatic scoreboard shift.

Carroll is the ninth UNF player to win the prestigious award since 2002. Defending champion Jordan Batchelor, also a UNF Osprey and now the UNF assistant golf coach gave Carroll his trophy.

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