APGA Tour rising star Marcus Byrd captured his second title in 15 months, winning the APGA Tour Valley Forge Championship, the second of four events in the APGA Tour Farmers Insurance(r) Fall Series, on Wednesday at Bluestone Country Club in Montgomery County, just west of Philadelphia.
Byrd’s triumph, in only his second year on the tour, included three putts of over 40 feet during Tuesday’s first round as he forged a four-stroke lead. He played mistake-free golf over the final 18 holes to pocket the $7,500 first prize from the $25,000 purse.
The fifth-place finisher in the regular-season Lexus Cup Point Standings, Byrd is now a top contender for bonus pool prize money in the Farmers Insurance Fall Series, which concludes with events in Houston (October 25-26) and Los Angeles (November 9-10).
His first-round heroics included nine birdies en route to a six-under 65 and a four-shot lead over Andrew Walker of Holt, Michigan. He shot a nine-under, 65-68-133, five shots better than Gabe Lench of Lake Mary, Florida, who finished 71-67-138. Joseph Hooks of Farmington Hills, Michigan, took third at 70-71-141 on the par 71, 6,372-yard layout in Montgomery County.
The 25-year-old resident of Washington D.C. starred at Middle Tennessee St. and competed in the 2020 U.S. Amateur at Bandon Dunes. He started in golf with First Tee of Greater Washington D.C. playing at Langston Golf Course at the age of seven and carved out a distinguished junior career, winning the Georgia State Junior Championship in 2013 before earning Conference USA Player of the Year plaudits as a college senior.
“My putter was hot and that helped with the long putts yesterday and a bunch of one-putt greens today,” stated Byrd, who protected his lead with a mistake-free, three-birdie round. “My game is moving in the right direction. I’m a pro golfer who is just not there yet.” Byrd has multiple runner-up finishes in recent months, including a tie for second at the Mastercard APGA Tour Championship in San Antonio last month. He is just back from Portugal, where he competed at the DP World Tour Q-School, shooting a 28 on the front nine in the third round but failing to move to the next stage over the four-round tournament.
In the APGA Tour’s new Cisco Junior Series presented by the Champ Foundation, Philadelphia-area amateur Matt Vital of Bethlehem defeated K.J. Ofahengaue of Utah on the first playoff hole by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt. It was his second victory in the Cisco Junior Series this year and he is in the driver’s seat to secure a berth in the APGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Invitational at Torrey Pines in January when the APGA Tour plays a tandem event during the PGA TOUR’s Farmers Insurance Open.
Among the other Philadelphia-area players, Zach Juhasz of Bethlehem shot 72-70-142, good for fourth place; Louis Kelly of Sewell, New Jersey, shot 72-71-143, finishing sixth; and Jeff Cunningham of Philadelphia, who played golf at Drexel, shot a 72-81-153 for 39th place.
APGA Tour Valley Forge was hosted by the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board, which promotes the Montgomery County region’s 50-plus golf courses as part of its MontoGolf initiative. APGA Tour Valley Forge week kicked off Sunday with the Advocates Foundation Youth Clinic at The Club at Shannondell in Audubon, PA, where young people from The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia and other community organizations interacted with experts in the fields of health/wellness, mental health, career options and golf, including APGA Tour players and officials. The program included the awarding of $2,000 in educational grants to essay contest winners.
APGA Tour competition continues with the series’ first international tournament, the Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship October 11-12 at Port Royal Course in Southampton, Bermuda.
The APGA Tour was established in 2010 with the mission to bring greater diversity to the game of golf by hosting and operating professional golf tournaments, player development programs, mentoring programs, and introducing the game to inner-city young people. The tour has grown from seven events with $200,000 in prize money in 2020 and 14 events with over $400,000 in prize money in 2021, to 18 events with over $900,000 in prize and bonus money in 2022.
The APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Fall Series is designed to further the APGA Tour’s mission of bringing greater diversity to the game of golf and to provide additional playing and earning opportunities to APGA Tour players.
Sponsoring the APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Fall Series is part of several actions and initiatives that Farmers(r) has taken to help advance its commitment to diversity and growth in the game of golf. The national insurer has provided funding for APGA TOUR events and the organization’s athletes, sponsored players including Kamaiu Johnson and Willie Mack III, hosted the first-ever APGA event at a PGA TOUR tournament at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open, provided Mack with a sponsor’s exemption into the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open, and provided Johnson and Ryan Alford with sponsor’s exemptions into the 2022 Farmers Insurance Open. This support led to a landmark moment for the APGA Tour as the 2022 APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Invitational was the first-ever APGA Tour event to be broadcast on national television with the final round airing on Golf Channel.
Photo: APGA Tour