The 22nd Nolan Henke-Patty Berg Junior Masters Tournament finished the first round Wednesday with two of the favorites sitting at the top of the scoreboard.
Previous champions Landon Weber of Fort Myers and Brittany Shin of Cape Coral shot well enough at Cypress Lake Country Club to either lead or share the lead in their respective divisions.
Weber, who won the 13-15 year-old division three years in a row, graduated to the 16-18 division this year. He shot an even-par 72 to share the lead after 18 holes with Martin Jensen of Bronxville, N.Y.
Cape Coral’s Brittany Shin pitches her ball onto the green during the opening round of the 22nd Nolan Henke Patty Berg Junior Masters golf tournament Wednesday at Cypress Lake Country Club. She took a three-stroke lead into Thursday’s second round. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.
Cole Connor of Fort Myers is one stroke back with a 73. The rest of the field are five or more strokes behind the leaders.
"I played pretty solid," Weber said. "I left a lot of birdies out there. I like this course because it fits my game, and plays to my shot type."
To win his fourth straight title, Weber says he has to play smart, be consistent, and keep on the fairway.
Weber has been playing the game since age 3, and competitively since age 7. His family originally is from South Dakota, but moved to Southwest Florida four years ago so he could pursue golf.
"Landon and I went to Kentucky together to a golf weekend when he was only 6 to see how we could improve our game," said Landon's father, Scott. "They took a video of his swing and compared it to Tiger Woods. They thought it was identical, and that he shouldn't change it."
Weber and his parents believed it was a God-given talent, and so chose to make the move to Florida to give him more opportunity. The family of four live in Fort Myers, but Scott still has his work in South Dakota, and travels there often to maintain it.
Tied with Weber, Jensen comes to Fort Myers every year during the winter specifically to play golf.
"I am here about 14 or 15 days out of the year, and play a lot when I'm here. Usually I will try to get in 36 holes a day," he said.
Jensen's grandfather, Marty Sekreta, lives on the Cypress Lake Country Club, so that gives him an advantage for this tournament.
Weber has the same advantage as Jensen, as Cypress Lake is the home golf course for his Fort Myers High School golf team. Ironically, when asked how many times they've played this course, both Weber and Jensen said, "about a hundred times."
For these two, Thursday's second round is the first time they have ever played together. Since they're tied for the lead, they are paired together.
Christopher Spoone is the lowest 16-18 year-old golfer from Cape Coral with an 80.
Shin, 13, won the girls' division in 2012 at age 11. Wednesday, Shin shot a 1-over-par 73. She was very consistent in her drives, hitting 17 of the 18 fairways, and driving down the middle.
"My shots were on the green," Shin said, "but I missed a lot of putts that I shouldn't have. I'm trying to be humble. Anything can happen on the golf course," she said.
Shin, a cousin to LPGA player Michelle Shin, leads the girls' division by three strokes. In second place is Sydney Schrader of Naples at 76.
In the boys' 13-15 division, Fort Myers' Blake Wheeler leads after carding a 72. Mark Iwinski is second at 75.
The lowest 13-15 year-old Cape Coral resident is Alec DiLallo at 80.
The Henke-Berg is a three-day, 54-hole tournament. Competition continues Thursday and concludes on Friday.