Sport

Booker High’s Winter picking up some big wins over the summer

Armed with a new set of clubs, golfer captures the Suncoast Junior Match Play Invitational this past weekend

SARASOTA

The only real problem Jonah Winter has experienced during this coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic was the delivery of his new irons.

“It took a long time for them to get in,” he said.

But the clubs arrived last week, just in time for Winter to use them in the Suncoast Junior Match Play Invitational held at three area courses.

After playing Friday at Heritage Oaks Country Club to determine seeding, Winter went through the match play during the weekend undefeated at Palm Aire Country Club and Laurel Oak Country Club’s Jones course to defeat Max Barile of Land O’Lakes 2-up in Sunday’s final.

“I played OK,” Winter said. “I had some good shots here and there.”

And his new clubs were a big hit.

“I just had to figure out the distances,” Winter said. “They were really good.”

Along with hitting his irons accurately, he said, “I got off the tee in the fairway when it counted and made some putts when it really counted.”

It was the second win of the summer for Winter, who has played five times a week during the pandemic.

He said Sara Bay Country Club is one of favorite area courses, because “The greens are such a challenge. They are in a bowl shape. A lot of the shots will funnel off the green. It’s a real good challenge.”

However, the course Winter plays the most is Palm Aire, where he is a member. He recorded his two best scores at the course, shooting 31 over 9 holes and 66 over 18.

Winter’s love for golf came by watching the game as a youngster. Inspired by Tiger Woods, he played his first tournament when he was 9 years old.

“When I first started, I figured a lot out on my own,” he said. “I’ll go get a lesson here and there. I try to do a lot of it on my own.”

Winter said the best part of his game is putting and the area he needs to work on the most is chipping.

A rising senior at Booker High, Winter has qualified for the FHSAA State Championships the past two seasons.

Last year, he finished 17th in Class 2A with an 80-75-155, 10 shots behind the winner. It was an improvement from his sophomore season when he ended in a tie for 33rd with a 165, 21 shots back.

Winter is looking forward to his senior year on the links.

He hopes to progress during the season and “qualify for districts, regionals and states.” It’s always fun to play really nice courses.”

The Tornadoes are not a traditional powerhouse in golf, but Winter enjoys being a team leader.

“I have such an interest in golf and a passion for it,” he said. “I practice all the time and I’ll try to help the other guys out on my team. I have my own personal goals throughout the season and, of course, make it to states is one of them. I’m self-motivated to succeed.”

Winter also enjoys playing basketball and fishing in the lakes around Sarasota.

Looking to study finance in college, he still is in the process of choosing a college.

“I need to get in some good scores and find a good college and go somewhere and make a difference,” he said. “Some have reached out, but I haven’t found the perfect match yet.”

While he does not mind heading out of state for college, it will not be too far north.

“North of Florida, but not where it gets really cold,” Winter said.

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