Golf­ing in the sun

A pair of lo­cals com­pete in Op­ti­mist In­ter­na­tional

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

Rather than head for prime va­ca­tion spots in Florida such as Walt Dis­ney World, Gulfstream Park or other theme parks in the Sun­shine State, South­ern Mary­land golfers Thomas “Wade” An­tonielli and Gavin Gan­ter com­peted in their re­spec­tive age brack­ets at the Op­ti­mist Golf In­ter­na­tional at the PGA Na­tional Re­sort & Spa.

Gan­ter, of Swan Point, fin­ished in a seven-way tie for 17th with a 79, nine shots be­hind 14-15 cham­pion Ethan Adam, while Hunt­ing­town res­i­dent An­tonielli fin­ished 143rd over­all with a three-round to­tal of 263 in the 16-18 cat­e­gory. Adrien Pen­daries won the four-day event with a score of 283, edg­ing run­ner-up Lorenzo El­bert, Jr. by one stroke.

“I thought the greens were a lit­tle dif­fer­ent,” said Gan­ter, a ris­ing fresh­man at La Plata High School. “Their greens are Ber­muda grass in Florida, which is a lot dif­fer­ent than what I’m ac­cus­tomed to play­ing at Swan Point. It was a very chal­leng­ing course, but over­all I thought I played well down there.”

An­tonielli, a 2017 Hunt­ing­town High School grad­u­ate who is head­ing to Ma­ri­etta Col­lege in Ohio this fall to play golf and ma­jor in in­ter­na­tional sys­tems, spent his fresh­man and sopho­more years at a high school in Ari­zona be­fore his fam­ily re­lo­cated to South­ern Mary­land in 2014. Like Gan­ter, An­tonielli also found as­pects of the course in Florida chal­leng­ing.

“Ac­tu­ally, I didn’t mind the greens,” said An­tonielli, who was part of the Hur­ri­canes’ South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship team in 2015. “I didn’t play my best golf down there, but it had noth­ing to do with the greens. For me, it was great just be­ing able to play against

that level of com­pe­ti­tion on that course. I’m look­ing for­ward to play for the team at Ma­ri­etta. But that tour­na­ment in Florida was my last one for the sum­mer.”

Gan­ter, how­ever, said

that he has two more tour­na­ments this sum­mer be­fore head­ing to La Plata. This week­end he will com­pete in a two-day tour­na­ment at the Bris­tow Manor Coun­try Club in Bris­tow, Vir­ginia and later this month he will com­pete in an­other two­day tour­na­ment at Swan Point.

“I al­ways look for­ward to play­ing in the two-day tour­na­ments no mat­ter where they’re held,” Gan­ter said. “Of course, I like play­ing at Swan Point, which is my home course. Oc­ca­sion­ally, I have the chance to play a round with Robby Early, who is the club pro­fes­sional at Swan Point. He’s

al­ways quick to give me a few point­ers when I’m out on the course with him.”

Dur­ing his three days on the course, Gan­ter gained an added ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the last three holes, known as “the bear trap” for its dif­fi­culty. On pa­per, the 16th hole, a short par-3, might ap­pear very invit­ing. But the

hole is sur­rounded by wa­ter and the is­land green tests the nerve of even the most ex­pe­ri­enced, sea­soned vet­er­ans on the course in ad­di­tion to new­com­ers.

“I guess they call the last three holes the bear trap for a good rea­son,” Gan­ter said. “Those three holes are re­ally tough, es­pe­cially No. 16. It’s a short par-3, but you have to hit it just right onto a green sur­rounded by wa­ter. Both No. 17 and No. 18 are re­ally tough holes, too. I man­aged to sur­vive them, but you def­i­nitely think about them when you make the turn and start the back nine.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Gavin Gan­ter, a ris­ing fresh­man at La Plata High School, re­cently com­peted in the Op­ti­mist Golf Cham­pi­onships in Florida. Gan­ter, who reg­u­larly plays at Swan Point, will com­pete in more tour­na­ments this sum­mer be­fore start­ing high school com­pe­ti­tion in the fall.

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