We always look forward to returning to The Legends at Orange Lake. It’s an Arnold Palmer designed venue that’s way more than the normal resort style golf often found near the home of the famous mouse! It’s a very well laid out golf course on a huge piece of land with two distinctly different 9’s and it always provides a great challenge to players of all abilities.

And as if that wasn’t challenging enough for most of the week, prior to this one taking place, we were watching intently to see if Tropical Storm Fred was even going to allow us to host a golf tournament on Saturday!

On Friday afternoon we did what we usually do prior to weather threatened tournaments (happily we don’t have too many of these!) and we considered if we should play or postpone?

On this occasion all 3 of us, with as much weather info as we could gather, agreed we should play. A big factor of course was the fact that we KNOW many of you were also studying the weather at the same time and no one had called off and, just as important, we had a very strong field of players ready to play.

While numbers were a little lighter than our last visit here it was more than made up for by the quality of those who had signed up. Almost every entrant for this one was either a regular Highlander player committed to improvement through regular competition or a regular medal winner. In fact between them these attending players had amassed no fewer than 19 medal wins in 2021 season.

We were also joined for the first time by two new players making their Highlander Tour debut. Welcome to Camden Shaffer (South Lake HS) and Anthony Relucio (Oviedo,FL). We hope you felt welcome and you enjoyed your first tournament experience with us!

In the end Fred did play his rather unwelcome part in this one. Shortly after our final group left the first tee the rain began and the skies darkened. The forecast said lightning was close and with everyone’s safety in mind our weather service text was sent to request everyone stop play and return to the clubhouse. This delay lasted around 75 minutes before it became clear again and we returned to play.

Later in the day, and just as we thought we might get a break and finish, the heavens opened once more! I’m happy to report this time we stopped play for just 35 minutes but the effect on course conditions after such a storm cannot be underestimated!

During the course of any golf tournament conditions will always play a part and this one was no different. Our players should ALL be given great credit for remaining as focused as they did when faced with both the changing conditions AND the delays we (well Fred mainly!) forced upon them. Well done to everyone who got through what turned out to be a tougher, and significantly longer, day of competition than we had expected!

Our results of each flight are shown below:

The Claret Jug Flight

 

Our unique “all age” flight of players where entry can only be gained by players who have picked up 3 or more player flight medals so far during the current season.

We always say that it’s often tough for any player to win a medal regardless of which player flight they are in however when you are being challenged at every future event you compete in by only those other serial winning players it undoubtedly requires you to put a low number on the board or miss out. Once again this was the case as two of our most successful Highlander Tour players of the season so far gave their very best in the worst conditions to add to their medal tally.

Riley Sillaway (Longwood) earlier in the month had become our TCL Junior Open Champion of 2021 after two days of thrilling junior competition golf at Glenview Champions in The Villages. His character building win there secured him not only the Championship but also saw him collect his 5th HJT medal of 2021.

Braden Hawkins (Clermont) started 2021 in exceptional form and was one of our first players to reach the magical 3 medals won figure and achieve promotion to The Claret Jug Flight for the remainder of 2021. Since then he’s added another two Claret Jug wins to his total and, like Riley, now sits on 5 medal wins for the season.

Riley had played only two holes when the first delay was called. Par on the first was followed by an uncharacteristic double bogey on number two. For many the interruption coming immediately after a bad hole would be a worrying sign however it appeared on this occasion that the break in play merely allowed our Junior Open Champion time to reflect and on his return, and despite the soggy conditions, he made amends in consistent style making par on the next 5 holes and a birdie on number 8. At the turn Riley had once again shown great resilience to turn things back in his favor with a +2(39) after 9 holes played.

Braden kept close with 4 pars and a birdie of his own at number 2. A few shots given back would frustrate but there was still a lot of golf to play. At the turn Braden’s +4(41) saw him only two back of the lead.

We haven’t seen Braden play for some time and it really was great to watch him once again. He’s an elegant and strong player with an exceptional temperament. He’s gained a great deal of experience through competing and that experience shows as he’s very much aware that the game requires you to be able to dig deep and move on quickly from the disappointing shots and  focus only on what’s ahead of you.

On Saturday not everything went his way but enough of it did to remind us all just how good his game can be. Despite a few dropped shots, delays and changing conditions he still put in 100% effort all day long. His back 9 highlights included two more birdies at 15 and 17 and his very best and most consistent form arrived in the closing holes. Braden finished really strong playing the final five holes in -1! Overall his scorecard for the day showed 41-38-(79)

Well done Braden, it was great to see you back!

Riley has made a habit recently of successfully defending his position at the top of our leaderboard. He did so again here despite a couple of , albeit minor, early setbacks. His focus and his belief in his game though can rarely be questioned. At 12 he made birdie and that was to signal his most consistent period of this round.

A run of 5 par makes from 13 through 17 kept him in a good place and, despite a shaky finishing hole, after 18 his card showed 39-38-(77) His two shot advantage was intact and he had secured medal win number 6 …another Claret Jug win to become our joint top medal winner of the 2021 season!

Congratulations Riley from everyone at HJT, it was a tough day for everyone and one where you showed a great deal of character and resilience to keep giving your very best!

Nearest The Pin – Shot of the Day:

 

This one was to be a double celebration for the Longwood youngster as Riley Sillaway added a Nearest the Pin win to his medal triumph!  It was certainly a REALLY close call and it involved a shot from our 1st player of the day (Nathan Williams) who early on found the green with an iron shot that finished 23ft from the flag. As, one by one, the rest of the field played no one put it any closer than Nathan, right up to the point where our last player of the day, Riley, stepped up and floated a nicely struck and well judged shot high towards the flag.

When it landed it would require measuring by two independent HJT staff members. How close was it ? We agreed that Riley’s shot was 8 inches closer! Good shot Riley and we hope you enjoy your prize award!

The Old Tom Morris Flight:

 

Our 16-17’s in this one and despite the delays and changing conditions this one turned into a real two way battle to become the lowest scorer in the flight between two exceptionally  talented young players. Both of whom we have spoken about before in these reports, on a number of occasions, and both are already 2021 season medal winners on the trail of more tournament successes.

EJ Maupin and Trenton Waters are VERY similar in so many ways! Both are players we know well from many of our single day and 36 hole events. They share a love of the game and a real desire to improve through perseverance and hard work!

Interestingly we have said on numerous occasions on here that both EJ and Trenton are, in our opinion, fast becoming two of the strongest and most experienced competitors we have and we fully expect our 2021 season to propel both to the next level of development. When playing well and with confidence it’s great to watch these guys play as even their personalities are similar! Expect to see exceptional sportsmanship and behavior and ability that’s making them fine young competitors.

EJ and Trenton have both picked up medals already this season with Trenton winning the Old Tom Morris Flight at our 36-hole Masters Event at Eagle Ridge in May and EJ triumphing recently, also at Eagle Ridge, in one of the most exciting and enthralling 3 way battles for a medal this year. Both would have opportunities in this one to add another medal win to their tally!

It was Trenton who started this one in the strongest possible way with an impressive birdie at the 1st.It was even more impressive as he was the only player in the field to do so! Par at 2 and 3 were made before the first of the weather delays and on his return Trenton quickly set about keeping that consistency going with another run of 4 pars! A couple of shots given were back on the closing two holes but given the lengthy weather delay and the soggy conditions to record a +1(38) opening 9 was exceptional from Trenton!

EJ gave us another glimpse of how experienced he has become in battling through when things don’t go your way! It started well enough with par on the 1st but 2 through 4 proved tough with shots given back on each of those holes. On the 5th tee he showed he has the character and determination to focus only on what’s ahead as he reset and showed real class to finish the front 9 stronger than the rest of the field. Two pars and back to back birdies at 8 and 9 meant he kept his day alive. EJ’s front 9 was +3(40)

With a two shot advantage it was Trenton’s turn to show his own experience as he begun the closing 9 holes in impressive fashion. Par-par-birdie-par-par and he was looking unstoppable just before the weather turned nasty once again and forced our second, shorter delay. As the rain subsided Trenton struggled to get back into that earlier groove, shots were dropped on each of the closing holes, to his credit though nothing worse than single shots but there’s no doubt that EJ, playing in the group behind, would possibly sense an opening that earlier in the day might not have arisen. Trenton had played some great golf all day and even with the setbacks he suffered on those closing holes he put up a strong 38-38-(76) to take the clubhouse lead in The Old Tom Flight>

EJ would know that it would most likely take a very special back 9 finish to pick up the lowest scorer medal in this one. He has been in this position before though and he has no lack of desire and ability to give it his best. Golf can turn quickly in your favor or against you and good players know this. At 10 another test of character as a shot was dropped. His answer was birdie at 11 and par at 12 and 13. A bogey at 14 was, again frustrating but 15 and 16 steadied things once more making par on each. At this stage a par-par finish on the final two holes would see EJ and Trenton tied at the top of the leaderboard!

On this occasion it was not going to be EJ’s day. In golf things CAN change fast and in this case it was as quick as one frustrating hole, the 17th where bad luck took hold and that elusive par turned into a two shot dropped double bogey! 18 WAS made in par but unfortunately the difference in this one would be those two shots as EJ recorded a creditable 40-38-(78). No doubt he was frustrated BUT as expected of both of these fine young players and friends when they both met after there was only sincere best wishes and genuine respect for each other’s achievements on a day blighted by delays and bad weather!

Well done EJ and congratulations to Trenton who made it medal win number two . There was so much fine golf on display from both of you today and we cannot wait to see your strong development continuing in the weeks and months ahead!

 

A happy, and slightly relieved, Trenton with medal win 2 of the season. Trenton is now in touching distance of becoming a Claret Jug player and we think that’s where he belongs !

The Young Tommy Morris Flight:

 

It’s always great to welcome new players making their debut in Highlander Tour events and this player flight for our 14 and 15’s had not one but two new faces in it. It wasn’t an easy day for anyone and we applaud all of our players for showing amazing perseverance and for battling all day to produce their best efforts.

Debut players like Anthony Relucio (Oviedo,FL) have very limited tournament experience so far and we want to take this opportunity to point out once again that we have the utmost admiration for having the confidence to take this step into competitive golf. Anthony did a great job in his first outing and he should be very happy with his day’s work. Young players too often get hung up on one thing only, scoring! Rest assured that the only formula to improve over time is to practice hard and compete at every opportunity. In the last year alone we have been blessed to meet so many young players who have the desire and motivation to improve and achieve their goals and we think Anthony may just be another who can do just that. Well done Anthony on a good HJT debut. Hopefully we will see you again really soon to continue the good work you have now started?

It was another debut player Camden Shaffer (South Lake HS) who was to enjoy a debut medal win here at The Legends.

Camden showed he is a strong player with great potential. It wasn’t an easy day for him by any means and there is no doubt he has capacity to shoot lower scores in him too. He suffered a bad start but then came right back strongly and showed great determination and character to battle through the remainder of that front 9. A birdie at 5 was a real highlight of his front nine as he carded a +5(42). It proved tough to keep things consistent on the opening holes of the finishing 9 but he did show signs of that battling character as he worked hard all day long to give his best despite changing conditions and weather delays that can result in loss of focus and frustration.

In the end Camden recorded 42-49-(91) which was enough to take a debut medal win in The Young Tommy Morris player flight. Congratulations Camden from everyone at Highlander Tour. We hope you enjoyed the experience and we look forward to seeing you again at another HJT event soon.

Well done Camden! A debut HJT medal win on a really long and tough day at The Legends!

The Player Scores:

 

Thank you to everyone who came along to this one. We are pleased we got to finish but sorry for the weather delays and that it turned out to be such a long day out there!

We would also like to thank Jimmy Bilsky and his staff at The Legends for hosting us and for providing a challenging course that still remained playable despite the heavy storms throughout the day!

Thank you as always to our Tour Sponsor (Todd and Melissa Coon) of TCL-Tri County Landscapes for everything you do to help juniors develop through golf in our community.

Our next tournament is another exciting opportunity to join us as we make our debut at the impressive Ron Garl designed Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando on August 28th. We have tee times from 1pm and registration is open now. HJT Members entry fee is $55 and Non-Members $70. We hope as many of you as possible will join us for this one and Player Registration and more venue information can be reached by clicking HERE 

For full address and venue details for Eagle Creek GC click HERE

 

Thank you to our sponsor.

 

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