TAMPA, FLORIDA | Chip Brooke recovered from a nightmarish start to play near-flawless golf for his last 15 holes in the Gasparilla Invitational at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club, winning the prestigious mid-amateur tournament by one stroke ahead of Tug Maude.
The Altamonte Springs, Florida, resident, who finished runner-up at the 2018 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball alongside Marc Dull, began the final round a stroke ahead of Maude, the 2019 Travis Invitational winner who recently got back into amateur golf. The pair were seemingly engaged in a virtual match-play scenario, being a handful of shots clear of the field.
Brooke (above) and Maude ended the day where they started, at 5-under par and 4-under par for the tournament respectively, but the journey to reach that point was anything but boring.
The theatrics started immediately as Brooke made bogey at the first and Maude birdied the short par-4 second, flipping Maude’s one-stroke deficit to a one-stroke advantage.
And then the third hole happened.
With both players having missed the green short and right on the reachable par-5, Brooke accidentally hit Maude’s ball for his third shot and Maude hit Brooke’s ball. Both players were assessed a two-stroke penalty and had to return to where their actual second shots had finished.
“Truthfully the stuff that happened on three kind of took the nerves out. ... I can’t believe I did that."
They each did well to make a double bogey from that point, but had to watch as the third member of the group, Jordan Sease, made a 15-foot eagle putt to go from five strokes down to one shot back. About 130 yards away from them, Nick Maccario made birdie at the par-3 fourth to get within two strokes of the lead.
“Truthfully the stuff that happened on three kind of took the nerves out,” Brooke said. “Like, ‘How stupid are you?’ I can’t believe I did that. I remember the last time I did that I was 16 years old. I asked Tug when he did it last and it was when he was a freshman in college at a qualifier.
“It just settled me down from that point. I knew there were still 15 holes left.”
Brooke and Maude made birdies on the fourth hole and they quickly returned to their two-horse race. Maude made birdie on No. 7 to extend his lead to two strokes, but it was all Brooke from that point. He made birdie at No. 8 while Maude made a sloppy bogey, creating a tie, and then Brooke walked in a long birdie putt at No. 12 to take back the one-stroke lead. It grew to two shots at the par-4 14th when Maude missed the green to the left and hit a poor bunker shot, leading to a bogey.
Brooke hit six of his last seven greens and was bogey-free for his last 15 holes to erase his 3-over start, offering little opening for Maude.
“For a national event at a place like this, you want to win this so bad,” Brooke said. “The trophy is cool, the members are awesome and this is just such a cool place. This is a big one for me.”