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Mitchell wins wild tournament

The Mustangs had a player disqualified (they weren't the only ones) and still topped Zephyrhills, second despite a scoring error.

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 23, 2002

WESLEY CHAPEL -- Three holes into Tuesday's Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament, Mitchell coach Scott Williams learned one of his players had been disqualified for breaking a club in anger. On the back nine, his No. 2 player carded a quintuple-bogey 9, followed by a triple-bogey 8 two holes later.

After all that, the Mustangs scrapped and scrambled enough to win by five strokes, led by senior Kyle Laux's par round of 72, which gave him medalist honors at Lexington Oaks Golf Club.

"What a roller coaster," said Williams, whose team shot 321 to end a four-year title reign by Zephyrhills. "I took what happened today as a challenge. I actually got excited, getting to see how the team would respond to the adversity. I took it as a positive for the way our team was able to rise up. Kyle finishing up with a 72 helped a lot."

Zephyrhills, led by A.J. Blackstone's 78 and Kyle Pierson's 79, finished second, and would have been within stroke were it not for a frustrating scoring error. If you think 9 on one hole is tough to get over, how about 40?

Players sign off on hole-by-hole scores only. The Bulldogs' J.J. Mine signed his scorecard after putting his front-nine total of 40 strokes in the slot marked for the ninth hole. By the rules, he was credited with 40 on that hole instead of the 4 he shot, giving him 117 instead of his actual 81. As a result, the Bulldogs had to count Greg Lail's 85, but the error didn't change the Bulldogs' status as runners-up.

Despite a challenging course, some of the biggest problems had nothing to do with drives and putts. Hudson had three of its five golfers disqualified for running out of balls, and Mitchell was hampered early when Cole Cisbani was disqualified on the third hole.

Mitchell, which got its second-lowest score from No. 5 player Mark McGrane, clinched by playing the final hole at a combined 1-under 19, led by senior Tyler Clippard, who struggled to a disappointing 87. Clippard, last year's medalist, nearly eagled the final hole, settling for a tap-in birdie.

Ridgewood went into the final hole one stroke behind Mitchell and three ahead of Zephyrhills, but the Rams' four players shot a combined 8-over on the hole, losing nine strokes to the Mustangs.

"I knew it was close going into 18, and unfortunately, we didn't finish out well," Rams coach Gary Anders said. "It's a tribute to those guys (Mitchell). Clippard could have thrown it in early, and he just missed an eagle on the last hole. Those kids hung really tough and played very well."

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