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Pro golfer Mark Anderson talks

Mark Anderson, a star on the Web.com Tour, talks about the Hotel Fitness Championship, Sycamore Hills Golf Club and the Web.com Tour Finals with Justin Cohn of the Journal Gazette

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
John Lass hits from the sand on No. 9 at the Mad Anthonys’ Pro-Am on Monday at Sycamore Hills.

New format swells pro-am with talent at Mad Anthonys

Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Komets broadcaster Bob Chase was part of the winning team in the pseudo-scramble along with John Didier, Grant Dailey, Mark Hesterman and pro Alistair Presnell.
Former Saint Francis men’s basketball coach Jeff Rekeweg hits from the sand on No. 18 at the Mad Anthonys’ Pro-Am on Monday.

The Mad Anthonys have been holding golf tournaments in Fort Wayne since 1956 – and there have been myriad formats through the years – but one could make the case that the tournament has never had the talent that was at Sycamore Hills Golf Club on Monday.

In the newest incarnation – now called the Mad Anthonys Hotel Fitness Championship Pro-Am – players vying for their 2014 PGA Tour cards rounded out the field of amateurs in the charity event.

This is the first year of the Hotel Fitness Championship, which is the first of four legs in the Web.com Tour’s new finals, and the tournament has a purse of $1 million and a rake of $180,000 for the winner.

The Mad Anthonys Pro-Am was the first event of the week, which continues with today’s practice rounds, the Chick Evans Memorial Pro-Am on Wednesday and then the championship Thursday through Sunday.

“I think the Hotel Fitness Championship is a great event for Fort Wayne,” Mad Anthonys president Don Banowetz said. “The Mad Anthonys is a great addition to it. The ability to put those two events together, it’s the right thing to do.”

Last year, the Mad Anthonys’ tournament raised $740,000 for the Children’s Hope House, which which provides lodging and support services for children undergoing pediatric and neonatal treatment.

This year’s amount will be announced at a later date by the group of local businesspeople.

Winning the pseudo-scramble this year was the team of John Didier, Grant Dailey, Mark Hesterman, longtime Komets broadcaster Bob Chase and pro Alistair Presnell, with a score of 26-under 46

Finishing second, thanks to a scorecard playoff, were John Ferguson, J.T. Croy, Seth Keirns, Tommy Schoegler and pro Steve Wheatcroft. They shot a 49.

For many of the pros, some of whom who hadn’t yet arrived, it was their first look at Jack Nicklaus-designed Sycamore Hills. The field is comprised of players in the top 75 on the Web.com Tour, which is one step below the PGA Tour, and Nos. 126 through 200 on the PGA Tour’s FedExCup points list.

While 25 tour cards have already been decided, another 25 will be won in the finals. And positioning of all 50 cards will also be determined.

“The gentleman we played with today, Troy Matteson, he hit the ball unbelievably well,” said Banowetz, whose team had a 52. “He’d never seen the course before and I believe he shot even par. It’s a real treat to watch a guy hit the ball that purely and consistently.”

For Mark Anderson, eighth on the Web.com Tour this year with $225,184 in winnings, it was a treat to see Sycamore Hills in the Mad Anthonys event. He’d only seen nine holes of Sycamore Hills before, but he’d never played a hole here.

“I hadn’t had the chance to see the back nine before,” Anderson said. “It’s great. It’s a lot of fun. There are a lot of cool holes, especially on the back nine. There are a lot of unique angles you’ve got to take and I’m really excited to play it this week.”

While the Mad Anthonys are used to having the spotlight to themselves, sharing it with so many other events, including another charity Pro-Am on Wednesday, has been an adjustment.

“Both events will end up doing well. I know we have,” Banowetz said. “We’ll look ahead next year to see if we might rectify (any problems).”

jcohn@jg.net

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