Nick Gabrelcik runs away with New Year's Invitational thanks to closing eagle

New Year's Invitational

Nick Gabrelcik runs away with New Year's Invitational thanks to closing eagle

Amateur

Nick Gabrelcik runs away with New Year's Invitational thanks to closing eagle

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Nick Gabrelcik had considerable breathing room coming down the final stretch at the New Year’s Invitational on Sunday. He brought a five-shot lead to the 18th tee at St. Petersburg (Florida) Country Club.

“I wasn’t nervous because I knew I kind of already won unless something really out of the ordinary happened,” Gabrelcik said.

It did, but it worked in his favor. Gabrelcik had a 30-yard approach to the par-5 18th and ended up jarring a pitch with his 60-degree wedge. The ball didn’t even bounce, just went straight in the hole. It effectively sealed a major amateur victory for the 17-year-old who is focused on preparing his game for the next level in the coming months.

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Big brother’s influence key in Gabrelcik’s path forward

Gabrelcik, a high-school senior at J.W. Mitchell High School in Trinity, Florida, has signed to play for the University of North Florida beginning next fall.

Gabrelcik led from the start in St. Petersburg after an opening 5-under 67. Subsequent rounds of 71-67 left him at 11 under for the tournament, and seven shots better than runner-up Charlie Dubiel, a junior on the Cornell roster.

The third round of the event was washed out on Saturday. After the initial waiting period at the course, Gabrelcik returned home to take a nap, watch some football and eventually take in his cousin’s basketball game.

“I didn’t really think about having the lead that much until this morning,” Gabrelcik said. “I’ve been in this position before so I knew how to deal with it.”

Gabrelcik drew mostly from the experience of winning the Florida Amateur Public Links in June. He had played the final round alongside University of Florida sophomore Eugene Hong in that event and managed to hold him off with a closing 2-under 70 at Orange County National in Winter Garden, Florida.

The teen had won the Florida Match Play Championship in the summer of 2018.

The day before teeing it up in St. Petersburg, Gabrelcik was fighting a hook. His desired ball flight is a low draw. He found the fix and with his dad on the bag for the New Year’s Invitational, played confidently the whole week.

“I didn’t miss many wedges or short irons in,” he said. “Made a lot of birdies and not many mistakes.”

Gabrelcik has also put increased focus on his putting, particularly inside six  feet.

“I want to become dominant from that range,” Gabrelcik said. “If I have a par putt, I’m not worried about it.”

Ideally, the New Year’s Invitational title will raise Gabrelcik from his current position of No. 879 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. As he climbs, more doors should open to tougher competition. Gabrelcik hopes a USGA event, namely the U.S. Amateur, are in his future, among other events.

“This is a pretty big win,” he said. “Hopefully it does move me up in the WAGR rankings. All these amateur events are here to prepare me for when I go to college in the fall so I can play against more college kids.”

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