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Gene Zeigler wins boys' 15-18 crown in 24th Annual Players Championship

Gene Zeigler wins boys' 15-18 crown in 24th Annual Players Championship

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Florence's Gene Zeigler poses with his trophy after winning the boys' 15-18 division in the SCJGA's Players Championship.

HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- One could not have scripted the final round of the 24th Annual Players Championship any better. As the day unfolded it would highlight the stellar talent from across the state as the final major of the 2020 season got underway. Birdies would fall for many throughout the day, but per usual - Hartsville Country Club would make competitors earn every red number, leading to playoffs in every age division.

The leaderboard grew tight early in the Boys 15-18 Division as players would flip-flop with birdies, eagles and even an albatross being carded in the final round. As players moved to the back-nine, the focus would move round one leader Zach Phillips (Inman), 2019 Jay Haas Player of the Year Gene Zeigler (Florence) and Waymon Thomas of Mount Pleasant. Launching himself into a tie at the top, Thomas would card an eagle on the par-5 9th hole and then hole-out from 240 yards on the par-5 18th hole for a double-eagle. Zeigler carded birdies on his final two holes to join Phillips and Thomas in first place and all ultimately meet back at hole 1 for a playoff.

After matching pars on the par-4 first hole, players would move to the par-5 9th hole where Thomas would par while Zeigler and Phillips tapped in for birdie to move on and back to hole 1. Phillips would hit his tee shot out of bounds, leaving the door wide-open for Zeigler. Knocking his approach shot to within 20 feet, Zeigler would top the victory off with a birdie to take the title.

Beginning the day, the focus would be on Isabella Rawl (Lexington) and Sydney Roberts (Chesnee), but waves would quickly be made by 2019 Beth Daniel Player of the Year MK Talledo (Spartanburg). Talledo would coast to a smooth three-under par (33) on her first nine holes and turn up the heat as she moved to her final nine. with seven birdies, she would post a nine-under par (63) and break the 18-hole tournament record and move herself into a tie for first place. Roberts posted a three-under par (69) and force a playoff with Talledo.

With great tee shots off the first hole, Roberts would find the back bunker on her approach shot while Talledo left herself a 25 foot putt for birdie. Roberts hit an incredible sand shot, leaving herself four feet for par. Wanting to be aggressive, Talledo knocked her birdie putt five feet past the hole and would miss her par putt. Taking a deep breath, Roberts stepped over her putt and hit the center of the cup to clinch the Girls Division champion's title.

The Boys 13-14 Division had no shortage of drama and excitement down the stretch in its own right, with Greenville natives Hugh Faulkner and Tip Price finishing their 36th hole tied at five-over par (149). On the first playoff hole, both competitors tied with pars and headed to their second sudden-victory hole, the par-five ninth. It was from there that Faulkner hit a pin-seeking wedge to within four feet of the hole and would make the birdie putt, which would be enough for the victory. First round leader Harrison James (Chapin) would round out the top-three finishers with a total of seven-over par (151).

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