Rep. Tony Benavente went down in the books as Marianas Golf Association's very first winner after beating 24 other competitors in the new club's January Ace of the Month Tournament held last Sunday at the Marianas Country Club.
Benavente shot a 45 on the front nine and a charged toward the club house with a 35 on the back side for an even gross score of 80 that was adjusted into a field-low net of 68.
Club president Carl J. Hocog led the eventual winner by eight strokes after the first nine holes, but the former crumbled after the turn and saw his 37 from the start spoil after posting a 44 on the closing leg. Hocog ended up with a gross 81 that factored into an even 70 net and earned him runner-up honors.
In third place came J.J. Atalig, who scratched in a pair of 40s on the front and back for a gross card of 80 that was shaved down to a 74 net.
Notably, Greg Sablan Jr. matched Atalig's net score, but was bumped down to fourth position via the MGA's tiebreaker rule. Sablan Jr. shot a pair of 48s for a gross 96.
In the closest to the pin contests, Benavente won hole No. 12, while Joey Dela Cruz prevailed on No. 6, Ned Norita on No. 8 and Ron Benavente on No.16.
Eight members played from the championship tee in MGA's first tournament, while 15 competed from the white tees, including two ladies.
The tournament was played with a handicap system where male players with a handicap of 10 and below teed off from the championship tee (blue tee), while those with a handicap of 11 and above teed off from the men's white tee. Female participants naturally use the shortest red tees.
MGA, which aims to develop golfers' performance while delivering transparency and innovative tournaments to challenge its members to perform to their full potential, takes pride in their handicap system, as most other organizations do not utilize the championship tee during their monthly tournaments. To compensate members who compete from the championship tees, a +2 handicap is added to their standing for a competitive tournament.
Hocog emphasized that a player's handicap determines which category it will be entering in major tournaments, such as the Tournament of Champions, the HANMI Golf Classic, and Northern Marianas College Foundation Open.
Meanwhile, Hocog is inviting members of the community to join MGA. The club will have its February Ace of the Month tournament on Feb. 17 at Coral Ocean Point. Show time is set for 9am with a 10am tee off.
For more information, contact Atalig at 285-4115, Greg Sablan Jr. at 483-8263, email email@example.com or visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MarianasGolfAssociation.