VERO BEACH — The Florida golfing world came to Vero Beach last weekend to participate in the Florida Open Golf Championship held at Quail Valley and John’s Island West.A record-breaking 1,100 players endeavored to qualify at courses throughout the state for the Florida Open, which was not held last year bringing organizers to Vero Beach to try and resurrect the 63-year-old event. The field was narrowed to 76 professionals and 80 amateurs for the three-day tournament. Golfers played 18 holes each at Quail Valley and John’s Island West on Friday and Saturday. The field was cut again to the low 60 players, who played in the finals on Sunday at Quail Valley. Vero Beach was represented by a number of players; Joe Kern, head pro at Indian River Club, and amateurs Bobby Bird of Golf Roundup and Chris Piumelli, a Quail Valley member, all made it through to compete in the finals on Sunday. Other local participants who competed Friday and Saturday included professionals Brien Paquette, Chris Campbell, Patrick Berry and Donald Meadows, and amateurs Charles Peavley and Scott Tolliver.
Speaking with Kern after the tournament, he mentioned that he has always liked tournament golf and since this one was going to be in Vero Beach, he wanted to try and qualify. Kern began playing golf in high school and has worked at the Indian River Club for the past 10 years. A large entourage of his supporters walked the courses and offered encouragement throughout the competition. Kern entered the finals in third place but unfortunately, after a few bad shots early on Sunday, didn’t end up where he’d hoped. “It’s a mental game,” says Kern. “You have to have the skills, but you also have to be able to think your way through.” Amateur Tom Murray, from Orange Park took home the trophy and the winning low professional was Rod Perry of Port Orange. The tournament is slated to be held at the Doral in Miami next year.