On Saturday and Sunday (24th/25th July) we hosted our 3rd Highlander Alumni Tour competition event of 2021. Playing out the 36 hole stroke play TCL Highlander Alumni Challenge on the Glenview Champions Fox Run and Stirrup Cup courses our Alumni players went out in advance of our TCL Junior Open Championship competitors.
Earlier this year we launched Highlander Alumni Tour in order to allow us to continue to offer many of our most senior players, including those who have just graduated high school, opportunities to continue to compete alongside other senior players and keep their game sharp during the period before some of them take their next step in academics, and possibly go and become a collegiate golfer!
Previously many of these players had found themselves in the position of no longer being able to play in junior events after high school was completed as they were no longer classed as junior players. Recently, in a move that we applaud, JGS (Junior Golf Scoreboard) advised that these players COULD still play in events and still receive valuable ranking points up to the age of 19.
At the weekend we welcomed 4 competing players in this flight who would play for both the Alumni Championship Medal and a unique commemorative hand painted ceramic tile trophy. Two of the four players, both recent High School graduates who are still under the age of 19, were also playing for those important player ranking points from JGS!
Our first two players are fairly new to our Tour and did not previously compete with us as junior players. Michael Lis-Planells was representing Ave Maria University, Florida. Michael is also a current student of the Panigoni Golf Academy.
Tanner Clough of Oxford, Florida was also joining us to compete for the first time in a Highlander Alumni Event.
The remaining two players in this Alumni Challenge are very well known to our Tour having played in many of our Highlander Junior events since we launched in late 2019.
Jack Panigoni (18) of Wildwood was representing The Villages and Panigoni Golf Academy. Jack was with us at the very beginning of our tour and successfully claimed a significant number of medal wins during season 2020. He was also recognized as The Villages High School boys team lowest scorer and stand out player for several years before graduation a few months back.
Nick Zarillo (18) of Lake Mary ,Florida and representing The Mike Bender Academy is our current Highlander Junior Tour Champion Golfer of the Year 2020 (Claret Jug) Trophy holder. Nick is our Tour’s all-time top performer and medal winner and in our 2021 season he continues to regularly pick up medal awards with 3 Flight medal wins, 8 Claret Jug medal wins and, so far, 3 Alumni Tour medal wins.
After two tough days of play from the longest available tees on the golf course (7100 yards) and in both extreme heat and then blustery conditions each player gave their very best to record their lowest possible score. After 36 holes the placings and scores were as follows:
1.Nick Zarillo – 75-76-151
2.Tanner Clough – 87-77-164
3.Jack Panigoni – 84-83-167
4.Michael Lis-Planells – 86-87-173
Well done to all of our players in this one. There was some fine golf played at times by all players and we hope that you all enjoyed the experience provided by this two day event.
Nick Zarillo ran out as a fairly comfortable lowest scorer in the end in this one but we do also want to give a special mention to Tanner Clough who made the biggest score improvement on day 2 taking a huge 10 strokes off his day one total, well played Tanner!
So, it’s yet another strong and decisive win for Lake Mary’s Nick Zarillo!
There is little doubt that coming into this one Nick would have been most people’s favorite to triumph, and rightly so, as his performances previously have earned him that top player tag.
In golf however being expected to win and then going out and doing it are often two different things! We’ve had the privilege of watching this young man play on Highlander Junior Tour events for the last 18 months.
It’s fair to say we now know him pretty well and, in our opinion, no other player we know can touch him when it comes to his mental strength and ability to concentrate on only his game to get the job done. Even on days when he’s not been at his very best you can NEVER rule him out of a tournament, in fact we’d go as far as to say we have never known a better HJT competitor who seems to have the consistent knack of finishing tournaments even stronger than he starts them! In competition golf that’s worth its weight in gold!
As Nick collected his prizes we were very much aware, and a little bit sad, to announce this one may be his last tournament with us for some time. Shortly he will head off to play Collegiate golf representing SEU (South East University) in Lakeland, Florida.
Perhaps we can expect an Alumni Tournament return at some stage in the future…who knows?
For now though Highlander Junior Tour would like to take this opportunity to wish Nick Zarillo our sincere and heartfelt best wishes for the future. It has been a huge pleasure for us to play a small part in your golf journey so far, hopefully for you this is just the beginning!
Your loyalty to our Tour and your presence at so many of our events has made us better, your ability and dedication to our great game has had a lasting effect on younger players and you, and your family, should be very proud of the role model you became to so many of them!
We will certainly miss you and your family, with dad Darren on your bag at EVERY event you’ve played with us and ALWAYS walking the course…..it’s been a whole lot of fun!
Rest assured we will be checking out those SEU results regularly and we hope to see you continuing to achieve in golf.
Stay humble Nick, don’t change and keep hitting it long and straight!
Ladies and Gentlemen our Alumni Championship Challenge Winner is Nick Zarillo.