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A little holiday warmth leads to more for golfing buddies

Posted: December 20, 2013 - 11:28pm

A pair of college buddies from North Carolina decided to get out of the cold and play golf for a few days in sunny Florida.

Now they can face any forecast as winners of the 37th Henry Tuten Gator Bowl Pro-Am Championship.

Harold Varner, who just earned his card for the Tour, and amateur partners Brandon Arthurs, Pete Aiello and Andre Green shot a second-round 12-under-par 60 Friday at the San Jose Country Club to finish in a three-way tie at 22-under-122.

They then beat teams led by professionals Chris Stroud and Bubba Dickerson in a playoff — eliminating Stroud’s team on the first hole and beating Dickerson’s team on the second hole.

Varner and Aiello played together at East Carolina. Just making it to the two-day affair that started Thursday at Timuquana Country Club was an adventure, but both agreed it was worth the effort.

“I flew to Orlando and got there at 5:30 in the morning [Thursday] and drove up in time to play,” Varner said.

“I flew from Raleigh [N.C.],” Aiello said. “We had a couple friends [Green and Arthurs] from here who wanted to play, so we decided to go where it’s warm.”

Varner’s team opened with a 10-under-62 on Thursday. Varner shot a 6-under-30 on the front nine Friday, while Aiello had a 4-under-32 that included a run of four consecutive birdies that started on their 10 th hole.

Dickerson’s group included amateurs Jim Ross, Harvey Eber and Adam Krestalude. They had the day’s best round at 13-under-59 to get into the playoff.

Stroud’s team, which had amateurs John Limanti, Andy Allen and Alberto Castillo, matched their first day score of 11-under-61 when Limanti birdied the final hole.

The playoff format included the total gross score for the entire four-man group. Dickerson had an 18-inch kick-in birdie to help his team finish even-par on the first hole, while Varner and Green both birdied to offset bogeys by their partners.

Varner’s team then won it on No. 2 with two pars and two bogeys.

“Now we’re ready for Christmas,” Aiello said.

The winning team got tickets to the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl game between Georgia and Nebraska at EverBank Field, as well as official Gator Bowl watches. Varner also received $2,000.

At the same time, Varner joined an elite group of winning Gator Bowl professionals that includes: Dan Sikes, Mark McCumber, Steve Melnyk, Rocco Mediate, Kenny Perry, Jeff Klauk and Paul Tesori.

Jeff Klauk’s team wound up fourth at 20-under-124, while J.C. Horne’s team was fifth at 19-under and teams for defending Gator Bowl champion Jeff Dennis, Sean Dale and Richie Bryant were tied for sixth at 18-under.

Friday’s final round at San Jose Country Club (par-72)

Format: Best gross ball of foursome.

122 (22-under)

x-Harold Varner (P), Andre Green, Brandon Arthurs, Pete Aiello (62-60)

Bubba Dickerson (P), Jim Ross, Harvey Eber, Adam Krestalude (63-59)

Chris Stroud (P), John Limanti, Andy Allen, Alberto Castillo (61-61)

(x-won in a two-hole playoff)

124 (20-under)

Jeff Klauk (P), Fred Klauk, Josh Hammond, Pete Abernathy (63-61)

125 (19-under)

J.C. Horne (P), Rob Sandlin, A.J. Crouch, Ted Smith (62-63)

126 (18-under)

Jeff Dennis (P), Mark Urbanek, Matt O’Connell, Kurt Kowaluk (64-62)

Sean Dale (P), Brendan Rager, Pete Kellermann, Chip Brooke (64-62)

Richie Bryant (P), Wes Jennison, David Anthony, Spencer Schindler (63-63)

127 (17-under)

Brad Rollinson (P), Kevin Slayden, Kevin Slayden Jr., Spencer Slayden (64-63)

Gary Murfitt (P), Donnie Allison, Jamie Salmon, Jarod Garcia (62-65)

Leonard Thompson (P), Bill Calfee, Chris Tuten, Henry Tuten (62-65)

128 (16-under)

Clint Avret (P), Bill Burgstiner, Jeff Robinson, Tommy Dudley (65-63)

129 (15-under)

Matt Every (P), Lewis Price, Scott Toole, John Wagner (66-63)

Mark Petzold (P), Will McClure, Paul Tesori, Nick Gilliam (66-63)

130 (14-under)

Gerry James (P), Justin James, Alan Henderson, Doug Bevan (62-68)

131 (13-under)

Ramon Bescansa (P), Michael Del Rocco, Jordi Barrenechea, Sean McGill (66-65)

Frank Lickliter (P), Lee Fields, David Novaloski, Chris Bell (67-64)

132 (12-under)

Spencer Brown (P), Ben McClung, Alex Turnbull, Eric Larsen (68-64)

Eric Smith (P), Colin Monagle, Devin Kennedy, Bucky Smith (67-65)

Bob Duval (P), Dan Riggins, Scott Regner, Jeremy Macdonald (67-65)

Rob Bradley (P), Rob Schiller, Scott Schroeder, Jacob Davidson (65-67)

133 (11-under)

Woody Blackburn (P), Andy Cheney, Burger Warren, Randy Briggs (68-65)

Sean Pacetti (P), Andy Senasac, Jordan Eubanks, Brady Hollenbacher (68-65)

Hayes Farley (P), Rocky Staples, Steve Carter, Matt Saxton (67-66)

134 (10-under)

Vince Covello (P), Eric Graybeal, Mike Graybeal, Shaun Murphy (66-68)

135 (9-under)

Tyler McCumber (P), McCarthy Crenshaw, Bill Fuge, Mark Mitchell (69-66)

Richard Scott (P), Tommy Stroud, Steve Melnyk, Butler Melnyk (68-67)

136 (8-under 136)

Brian Blackburn (P), Aaron Zarle, Chris Henderson, Tom Krystyn (70-66)

Todd Bork (P), Mark Taylor, Steve Hodgett, Paul Coalson (69-67)

Tom Maxwell (P), Mark Rutland, Louis Letellier, Luke McCann (67-69)

Jim Houston (P), Lance Herlong, Larry Smith, Bart Abstein (66-70)

138 (6-under)

Mike Broderick (P), Chase Berlin, Scott Jones, Dave Warner (70-68)