ST. PETERSBURG — The Vinoy Invitational was anybody’s event as tough conditions, including a persistent wind and lightning-fast greens, created a logjam among the leaders.
After 18 holes Wednesday at the Renaissance Vinoy Golf Club, Clearwater Central Catholic’s Ryan Orr and Northside Christian’s Jeff Heinicka were tied at 72. Three others, St. Petersburg’s Jack and M.J. Maguire and Palm Harbor University’s Christian Senger, were tied for third at 73.
It was the same with team scores with St. Petersburg and Calvary Christian tied for the lead with a combined 311.
In the battle for individual honors, Heinicka won a playoff that extended to two holes by making par on both. Orr had a chance to make par on the second hole, but his 2-foot putt lipped out.
“I felt bad for Ryan because it was a short putt,” said Heinicka, who finished fourth last year. “The conditions were tough, and I was happy I was able to battle back and stay in it.”
Early on, Heinicka did not think he would be in contention. He doubled on the ninth hole to put him 3 over. But he bounced back by making par on the 10th and 11th holes and birdieing the 12th, 13th and 14th.
In didn’t take long for Jack Maguire to emerge from a crowded field in the playoff for third place. He was the only golfer to birdie the par-4 first hole.
“I hit an iron off the tee to about 90 yards, then I got it 5 feet from the hole,” Maguire said. “From there it was a straight, easy putt.”
Maguire and his teammates also came out on top in the team standings after their foursome combined to make two pars, bogey and birdie on the first playoff hole against Calvary Christian.
“It was a little windy and things played fast,” Maguire said. “The tees were moved up, and it made it a little closer. But we were able to adapt and play well.”