LONGBOAT KEY -- When his senior season at Lakewood Ranch High ended short of capturing another state championship last fall, Spencer Schultz took a hiatus from competitive golf.
After five months away from the tournament grind, Schultz needed to knock off the rust he had with his short game and with his driver.
Both came in handy Monday when he snagged medalist honors with a 3-under 69 at the Florida Open qualifier held at the Longboat Key Club's Harbourside course.
"For the past month, I've been working really hard on it," said Schultz, who practices regularly at Sara Bay Country Club.
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Four qualifying berths were awarded Monday, with North Port's Sebastian Mark (72),
Lakewood Ranch's Doug Ferris (73) and Sarasota's Michael Visacki (73) advancing with Schultz to the Florida Open at Jacksonville's Timuquana Country Club slated for July 17-19.
Schultz started his return to tournament golf with an attempt at qualifying for the U.S. Open at the local stage held at TPC Prestancia last month.
That and a subsequent Florida State Amateur qualifying attempt didn't yield the desired results, especially with his driver.
So Schultz turned to his dad, Matt, who played collegiately at Stetson, and found out he was standing too close to the ball at address.
A little maneuvering away from the ball meant Spencer could pound 300-yard draws with his driver Monday, and he nailed every fairway on his final nine.
"It was just a simple tweak," said Schultz, who tallied five birdies to offset one double bogey. "I had it way too close and I was catching it on the heel."
Aside from a four-putt on the par-5 fifth hole, Schultz tamed Longboat's tricky Harbourside layout with the lone under-par score.
While Schultz breezed to a qualifying berth, Visacki and Ferris needed to outduel The Concession Golf Club's membership director Alan Pope and Clearwater's Benjarong Murray in a sudden-death playoff after all four posted 73s.
The playoff lasted one hole, the par-4 10th, because Murray blocked his tee shot into the water hazard on the right that led to a double bogey and Pope bogeyed following a tee shot to the left fairway bunker and an approach shot that plugged in the sand guarding the front right of the green.
Visacki, who had just 52 yards for his second shot after hammering his drive on the 379-yard hole, dropped a 3-footer for birdie to qualify.
Visacki stayed aggressive with his approach shot, despite Murray and Pope's trouble finding the green in regulation.
"You never know what can happen," said Visacki, who is playing professionally now after his career at the University of Central Florida. "Even like (Sunday), watching Dustin (Johnson) three-putt. You didn't think he was going to. You've still got to keep your foot down on the pedal."
Ferris two-putted for par to secure the final qualifying berth in the playoff.
The Brooksville native played professionally for 12 years before getting married two years ago and starting a family.
He spends more time teaching out of GolfTec Sarasota near Lakewood Ranch nowadays, limiting his competitive golf to about two events a year.
Taking in the U.S. Open victory by Jordan Spieth late Sunday night offered some inspiration to draw from for Ferris on Monday.
"It actually helped me (Monday), because it was a grind," Ferris said. "The front nine that we played, the blue, is the hardest nine holes probably in the county. It's up there with Concession. It's really hard. Even with no wind, it's hard. It's a placement course. ... I just kind of hung in there."