Jacksonville Sports Day

Spencer Captures Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association Match Play Championship

JACKSONVILLE – Having only recently recommitted himself to playing high-level amateur golf, 50-year-old Mark Spencer enjoyed the spoils of victory on Sunday when he canned birdie putts of 12 and 17 feet, respectively, on the 17th and 18th holes at Queen’s Harbour Yacht & Country Club to capture a 1 up victory over Marcus Reynolds of Watkinsville, Ga. in the 11th Jacksonville Amateur Golf Association (JAGA) Match Play Championship.

In the third- vs. fourth-place match, Scott Blackshear of Jacksonville, Fla. prevailed over Gregg Carrier of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., 3&2.

Spencer, who moved from Oklahoma to Jacksonville in 1988, never led in the championship match until the final putt dropped on No. 18.

Reynolds, just 18 years old, had the upper hand for most of the match, cruising to a 3-up lead through the first nine holes with wins on Nos. 1, 8 and 9. He was out in 36 to Spencer’s 39.

The tide turned in Spencer’s favor on the par-4 11th when he caressed a pitching wedge from 115 yards to 8 feet and converted the birdie putt.

Reynolds’ undoing came on the greens on the next four holes, all of which he three-putted. Walking off the 15th green his lead had evaporated and the match was tied.

But the College of Coastal Georgia freshman hung tough and reclaimed the lead with a par 4 on No. 16, only to feel the dagger of Spencer’s birdie-birdie finish on the par-5 and par-4 finishing holes.

When the final putt dropped, Spencer’s thoughts immediately turned to his lifelong friend and golf buddy, Chris Askew, who lost a battle with cancer two years ago.

“It was all I could do to not break down afterward,” the champion said. “I cried into my towel but pulled it together so my eyes weren’t too red in the pictures. This was for him.”

Walking every step of the championship match was another Spencer friend, Chris Watson, who gave the Askew eulogy. Askew was a fire captain in Austin, Texas.

Born in Minnesota, Spencer grew up in Dallas and Putnam City, Okla. He played golf for one semester while attending Florida State College at Jacksonville. He is familiar to many people on the Northeast Florida golf scene. For four years he serviced area golf accounts for Nike Golf. Currently, he is Manager of Technology for True Temper Sports’ baseball division. He also founded Sports 4N6, a sports analytics company.

The champion clearly remembers his first JAGA tournament experience of 30 years ago. “It was the Jacksonville Amateur in 1991 at The Ravines, played the same weekend John Daly won the PGA Championship in Indiana. I had a good finish, a fifth, I think, which probably means I was too young to know how good a finish that was.”

Spencer has been married to his wife Sheryl for 25 years. They have two sons; Jacob, who plays soccer at Mandarin High School, and Jackson, who plays baseball at Milligan University in Tennessee.

In getting to the finale, the 16 see Spencer defeated 2020 and ’21 Underwood Cup Amateur Team captain Andy Purnell, 2020 Match Play runner-up Jacob Posze of Jacksonville (3&2) and Nate Moseby of Jacksonville (4&3). Spencer’s semi-final match was conceded by Scott Blackshear, who had back problems but returned to win the consolation match on Sunday.

Reynolds was the 26th seed and he ousted Jim Loftin of St. Augustine, John Lobb of Jacksonville, and Matt Kleinrock of Jacksonville by identical scores of 2&1, before soundly defeating Gregg Carrier, 5&3 in their semi-final meeting.

The championship began on May 21 with 32 seeds based on the results of the May 16th qualifier at Queen’s Harbour.

The top finishers will be awarded World Amateur Golf Ranking points. The JAGA Match Play is one of three JAGA tournaments recognized by WAGR, joined by the First Coast Amateur and the Jacksonville Amateur.

In addition to becoming the eleventh name engraved on the JAGA Match Play Championship trophy, Spencer was presented with a sterling silver engraved money clip from Underwood Jewelers and a $450 certificate to the Queen’s Harbour golf shop.

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