McAllen Amateur returns with loaded championship field

2019 McAllen Amateur Golf Championship champion, San Antonio's Luke Antonelli. (Photo Courtesy Palm View Golf Course)

McALLEN — With seven former champions, a golfer with a +5 handicap and the first female entrant since 2011, the 19th Frost Amateur Golf Championship looks to be a highly competitive event after taking a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which is broken into different flights, will be held June 26-27 at Palm View Golf Course in McAllen. All 150 spots are full and there is a short waiting list, and that includes not having the normal 20-30 golfers participating from Mexico due to the status of the international bridges.

“We will miss those from Mexico who can’t play and hope next year they can return,” said Carlos Espinosa, golf director at Palm View. “But we have filled the field a month before the tournament. Usually it’s filled a couple weeks out so this is very encouraging. I’m excited to see many of these golfers compete this year.”

The Championship Flight contains 27 golfers. Espinosa said looking down the list of golfers is an impressive lineup, including newcomer Manuel Casanova III, whose +5 handicap at Rancho Viejo is the lowest handicap to participate in the event, which began in 2002.

“This is a really strong field, with a +5 plus golfer and seven former winners,” Espinosa said. “It’s going to be some remarkable golf.”

Former champs returning include the 2019, and defending, champion, San Antonio’s Luke Antonelli.

“I guess he’s held the title for two years because of the pandemic last year,” Espinosa said. “But nobody has won this tournament back to back, even though I know that it will happen eventually.”

Other returning champions include Mission’s Miguel Del Angel (2008, 2010, 2013, 2016), three-time champ, McAllen’s Ron Kilby (2007, 2005, 2003) two-time winner, San Antonio’s Genaro Davila (2014, 2012), McAllen’s Ernie Garza (2011), Harlingen’s Ross Ledesma (2004) and Monterrey’s Viviano Villarreal (2002).

Villarrreal’s win came in the first event. He holds the course record with a 6-under 66 during the first round of that initial event, which he won by a tournament six shots, which was equaled when Joe Avitia of Edinburg won the event in 2017.

Del Angel, who last won in 2016, has finished first or second in the event eight times. Beside his four wins, he also took second in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2014.

Michelle Moroles becomes the first female competitor since 2011, when Ashley Chafee completed. Moroles is a former state qualifier from Sharyland High who also played four years at UTRGV. Chafee is a former McAllen High golfer and current coach at Sharyland High.

“I’m anxious to see how she fares and still want to see if someone can defend their title,” Espinosa said. “We also have four young men playing for the first time that not long ago were playing high school golf and were state qualifiers.”

Those golfers include McLean Beckwith and Calvin Lackey (Weslaco High), Aaron Martinez (Mission Veterans) and C.W. Phillips (McAllen Memorial).

One of the eligibility rules state that golfers can not have competed in high school or college golf tournament during the 24 months preceding the first round of the McAllen Amateur.

“We need the young players to sign up to compete,” Espinosa said.