VILLAGE OF ESTERO, Fla. – Over the past three days, Brian Kennedy (Highland Beach, Fla.) and Daniel Russo (Hagaman, N.Y.) put together twenty-two birdies and an eagle against a lone bogey to post a total of 23-under par 193 to win the 38th playing of the Society of Seniors’ Ed Tutwiler Four-Ball. They were victorious by three strokes over the duo of Bill Barnes (Bonita Springs, Fla.) and Rokki Rogan (Fort Myers, Fla.) in the event hosted by Estero Country Club at The Vines and sponsored by Callaway Golf. The Tutwiler field consisted of 38 two-man teams playing Four-Ball stroke play over 54-holes.
Neither Kennedy nor Russo had set foot on the Gordon Lewis layout at Estero Country Club prior to Sunday’s practice round. The game plan was simple enough; make no bogeys. Unfortunately, they were unable to achieve that goal, but the number of birdies made (and an eagle) offset the lone blemish of the week.
“The comfort level we’ve had playing golf together over the past 15 years or so makes this format great for us,” said Kennedy. “We know if one guy is out of the hole, the other is going to step up. Danny just played unbelievable today, he was 5-under after four.”
“I’d say I was unconscious for about an hour this morning,” laughed Russo.
Russo started off his day birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie on holes one through four to state their intentions early while jumping out to a four-shot lead over Barnes and Rogan.
“I told Brian before the round, when you have a lead, it’s important to get off to a good start. A good start can eliminate some teams, but if you get off to a bad start, it brings the field back into it and anything can happen,” said Russo.
Barnes and Rogan had zero intentions of going away quietly, despite Russo’s hot start. After a bogey on No. 10 (par 4, 394yds) by the leaders, Barnes made birdie on No. 11 (Par 5, 474yds) to cut the lead to two and piqued the interest of those trying to chase down the leaders. Russo showed resiliency and responded with birdies on No. 12 (par 4, 319yds) and No. 13 (par 3, 164yds) to again claim a comfortable lead.
Kennedy added, “Bill and Rokki played well, they just wouldn’t stop making birdies and kept the pressure on. We made a mistake off the tee on ten that led to the bogey and then they cut it to two with birdie on 11. Danny’s birdie on 13 got us back ahead comfortably and we were able to play solid from there.”
The leaders withstood two late punches as Rogan birdied No. 16 (par 4, 353yds) and Barnes birdied No. 17 (par 3, 122yds) to again cut the lead to two heading to the final hole. Kennedy slammed the door on No. 18 (par 4, 415yds) with a finishing birdie on one of the toughest holes at Estero.
Finishing in third place at 18-under 198 was the Tennessee connection of Steve Mann and Kenny Wilson. Fourth place was claimed by the Winter Park duo of Randy Elliott and Jack Jackson at 17-under par, and rounding out the top five was the team of John Steele (Boyds, Md.) and Tim Vigotsky (Palm City, Fla.) at 15-under par.
Special thanks to the staff and membership of Estero Country Club for their generous hospitality in hosting the 38th Ed Tutwiler Four-Ball.
Founded in 1983, the Society of Seniors is the preeminent men’s senior amateur golf organization in the country. From its inaugural event at Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield, NJ, its 900 plus members enjoy the ten (10) events it conducts annually throughout the United States. For additional information on the Society of Seniors or how to join please visit www.societyofseniors.com.