Manning back on right track with victory

The Augusta State senior wins the New Year's Invitational by three strokes.

Published January 8, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Major Manning's future is in golf. He proved that Sunday with a convincing win in the 81st annual New Year's Invitational at St. Petersburg Country Club. The senior at Augusta State shot par 72 to finish the four-day tournament 15-under 273, three shots ahead of Alan Bratton.

Manning found out last summer that his future does not include baseball. While playing home run derby with friends, he broke his foot and was unable to play golf for six weeks. He missed Augusta State's fall season, and the New Year's Invitational was his first tournament since the injury.

"I'll never do that again," he said.

Manning took a seven-shot lead into the final round after 66 Saturday. He birdied the first two holes, but consecutive bogeys brought him back to par. He birdied Nos. 9-11 but had three bogeys on the back nine. Bratton, from Orlando, made a late surge with 67 that included eagle on 18. He won the mid-amateur division for players 25 and older, six shots ahead of former Gator Dalton Melnyk.

"I started out really well," Manning said. "I guess at the end there it was just a lack of concentration."

The win was Manning's first. He said he had a few second-place finishes at Augusta State.

"It means a lot to me," Manning, 22, said. "It gives me a lot of confidence heading into my senior year. I haven't been able to play a tournament since last spring so to win it is really awesome."

Jon Curran and first-round leader Jonathan Mount tied for third at 278. Defending champion Luke List of Vanderbilt was fifth at 9 under, two better than he shot last year. Peter Uihlein, who played at David Leadbetter's academy in Bradenton, finished 8-under 280. Local player Mike Barbosa shot 72-282.

Orlando's Keith Keister, 57, won the senior division at 2-over 290.

Rodney Page can be reached at 727 893-8123 or page@sptimes com.