Godwin fires 63, sets Youth Villa Classic records in wire-to-wire victory
“By Del Milligan
BARTOW – There was no stopping Tiger Godwin on Monday in the final round of the 54th annual Youth Villa Classic at Bartow Golf Course.
“I shot 9-under on the last day, and I still lost by 10,″ said an exasperated Jimmy Jones of Tampa, the runner-up for the third year in a row. “That’s running into a buzz-saw if I’ve ever heard of it.″
Godwin, a Bartow native, fired a blistering 9-under-par 63 of his own with eight birdies and an eagle to complete a wire-to-wire, record-setting victory and become a two-time tournament champion.
He also received the trophy from Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in 2008 at the Villa, which is one of Polk County’s five major amateur golf tournaments.
“For three consecutive rounds, that was probably the best I’ve played,″ Godwin said.
Godwin, and Jones, also tied the 18-hole scoring record of 63 held by several players.
Godwin wasn’t surprised he shot 63, which he unleashed in front of a large hometown gallery on a sweltering 95-degree day with little wind, unlike the first two rounds.
“I’ve been playing pretty well the past few months,″ he said. “I just kind of set a game plan for the week, and I stuck to it. I’ve been making putts, and everything started going in today.″
After Godwin rolled in a 35-foot putt from the back fringe for eagle on the par-5 14th hole to get to 8-under for the day and 18-under for the tournament, then birdied No. 15, the all-time course record appeared within reach the way he was playing. But Godwin, who shares the course record with Sellers and Bartow Club Pro Chris Banks, parred the final three holes.
“All day Kelly and I were kind of joking about (the record),″ Godwin said. “I really didn’t think about it until that putt went in on 14. And then I was like, ‘I’m 18-under, I’m tied with Kelly’s record.’ ″
Godwin went into the final round with an eight-stroke lead over Matt Anderson of Lakeland, who just finished his sophomore season at Valdosta State.
What did happen was he birdied three of the first four holes to take away any hope Jones or Anderson might have had.
“Starting off eight back, I knew I needed to be four or five under through the first six, and maybe put some heat on him,″ Anderson said. “But he just went out and birdied 2, 3 and 4. It was hard to get anything going when he just slammed the door right out of the gate.″
Godwin kept the birdie barrage going at No. 6, then made his only bogey on the par-3 seventh hole.
But he birdied 9, 10 and 12 before the eagle on 14, and poured in an 18-footer for birdie on the par-3 15th hole to reach 19-under.
Godwin pointed to three things that paved the way for his runaway victory.
“I putted the ball very well, but I managed the course extremely well. There was only a couple of times where I got myself out of position,″ he said. “And I kept my composure very well. In previous years, I would get too excited and let my emotions run off with me.″
Sellers closed with a 68 for a 1-under 215 to finish fourth, while Brady Godwin took fifth at 220 after a 75.