SEBRING - Cole Berger has played golf for only three years, but the Lakeland teenager has learned the game quickly as evidenced by his 1-under 71 in Thursday's Sertoma Junior Golf Tour event at Country Club of Sebring.
The 16-year-old Berger played baseball for several years before taking up golf, and his quick development makes his decision to take up the demanding sport a good one.
"Cole has become a good player in a short time," Sertoma Junior Golf Tour Director and Sun 'n Lake Golf Club professional Andy Kesling said. "He's only been playing for a few years and he has great hands and played a solid round.
"He's an ex-baseball player and he's found out he's got a lot of ability when it comes to golf."
The Sertoma Junior Golf Tour event attracted a field of 70 junior golfers, ages 6-18, who competed in sweltering conditions on the demanding Country Club of Sebring layout.
"I'm really proud of all the kids for playing well in some tough conditions," Kesling said. "It was very hot and humid and they all did a good job on a tough golf course."
Berger won the boys 17-17 age group with his 71, Bradley Brewer placed second with an 82, while Easton Davis and Trenton Farrow tied at 83 and Jonah Brown and Will Bennett tied at 85.
Kendal Griffin finished first in the girls 14-18 division with a 74, Morgan Baxendale was second at 77, Taylor Moody carded a 78 and Sarah Liles came in with an 89.
"That's a good score by Kendall," Kesling said. "Morgan is a friend of Kendall's and Taylor is from Naples and her family has a place in Lake Placid which allows her to play here during the summer."
In the boys 15-16 age group, Ben Tubbs was first with a 76, Sam Rogers was a close second at 77, Andrew Wally shot an 82 and Matthew Arnan and Cory Franks tied at 85.
Ashley Engle cruised to first place in the girls 10-13 age group with a 48 for nine holes, Alyssa Armentrout was second at 55, Hannah Revell shot a 59 and Emily Dressel fired an 84.
Zach Doorlag finished first in the boys 9-10 division with a 46, Jaxson Davis came in second at 51 and Clay Jacobs and Ethan Armentrout tied at 58.
"Zach is quite an athlete and we're glad he's able to play golf because he plays a lot of baseball," Kesling said.
In the boys 13-14 age group, Scott Hamilton shot a 55 to edge his brother, Seth Hamilton, who carded a 56, Julian Crozier carded a 70 and L.J. Peppers came in at 81.
Beckham Donovan won the boys 11-12 age group with a 42, Jackson Griffin placed second with a 51, Josh Bible fired a 56, Will Redding carded a 57 and John David Spiegel shot a 59.
In the boys and girls age 6-8 age group, which played six holes from 200 yards out, Parker Griffin and Jack DuPriest tied for first place after each shot a 31, Brody Hall carded a 36 and Ian Frasier finished with a 37.
"There's a lot of talent in that age group," Kesling said.
The next Sertoma Junior Golf Tour weekly event is set for Thursday at Sebring Golf Club. Tee times begin at 8:30 a.m.
"I hope we can get more kids to come out to the weekly events,"Kesling said. "This is a great way to improve your game by playing on different courses each week and learning to hit different shots.
"We're off to a great start to the summer and we're looking forward to playing at Sebring Golf Club on Thursday." firstname.lastname@example.org