BARTOW - Florida Southern sophomore-to-be Jimmy Jones shot a 3-under par 69 in Monday's final round of the 52nd Annual Youth Villa Classic held at Bartow Country Club to finish as runner-up in the championship flight of one of the five major amateur golf tournaments in Polk County.
Jones, who was a late entry into this year's tournament, played his eighth round of golf in nine days on Monday after finishing tied for 33rd place at last week's NCAA Division II National Championships in Conover, N.C., on Wednesday and led his Moccasin team to an eighth place finish in the stroke play portion of the tournament before the Mocs fell in the quarterfinals of match/medal play to Lynn on Thursday. Jones played five rounds of golf in five days in Conover as he played a practice round on Sunday, before playing three rounds of stroke play and then concluding with 18 holes of match/medal play this past Thursday.
After returning home on Friday from North Carolina, Jones hit the course on Saturday morning in Bartow not knowing whether or not he was going to play in the tournament, but after a golfer withdrew Saturday morning, Jones earned a spot in the tournament and shot a four-under 68 in the tournament's first round, before carding a 1-over par 73 in Sunday's second round.
Jones, who entered Monday's final round in a tie for fourth place, surged into a tie for the lead after nine holes and then birdied the No. 12 hole to get to 6-under par overall. He would hold onto a share of the lead until bogeying the 17th hole. Jones, who birided the 18th hole to get back to 6-under par, finished the 54 hole tournament with a 6-under par 210 to fall by one stroke tp Jimmy Morris, who carded a 7-under par 209 to win his first ever Youth Villa Championship after eight runner-up finishes since first playing the event in 1982.
"I played a really consistent round all day long on Monday," said Jones, who was named a Second-Team All-Sunshine State Conference selection this past season as a freshman for the Mocs.
Jones said that putt he made for birdie on No. 18 in the final round was huge for him.
"That was a good putt for my self-confidence, just for my game as a whole, to have to make that putt and apply some pressure," said Jones, who is a Tampa, Fla., native.
Jones wasn't the only current Moccasin player in contention for the Youth Villa Classic Championship as junior-to-be Levin Hoffmann (Sarstedt, Germany) was tied for the lead at 6-under par through 14 holes in Monday's final round, but Hoffmann fell out of the lead when he bogeyed the 15th hole and finished with a final round score of 3-under 69. Hoffmann totaled a 4-under par 212 to finish in a tie for third place in the championship flight. In addition to his 69 Hoffmann, who finished tied for 54th place at the Division II National Championships, opened the Youth Villa Classic with a 1-over par 73, before firing a 2-under 70 in the second round.
Junior-to-be Jason Huntington (Lakeland, Fla.) was the final current Moccasin that played in this year's Youth Villa Classic as he carded a 4-over par 220 for 54 holes to finish second in the Championship Division's second flight. Huntington, who finished tied for 96th at the Division II National Championships, opened with an even-par 72, before carding back-to-back rounds of 74 to finish three shots behind Nic Thomas (217), who finished first in the Championship Division second flight.
Florida Southern women's golf coach Robbie Davis finished with a 2-over par score of 218 for 54 holes to finish ninth in the championship flight. Davis fired rounds of 73, 72 and 73 respectively.
The Youth Villa Classic is one of five major amateur golf tournaments in Polk County and the tournament benefits the Florida Sheriffs Youth Villa in Bartow.