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PHU's Elliot all by himself

The Hurricane junior is the only member of his team to advance to today's region tournament.

By LAURA LEE
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 4, 2002


PALM HARBOR -- What could have been a road trip to Sarasota with a group of friends is now an ordinary drive south for Jason Elliot because of two strokes.

One stroke kept the Palm Harbor University team out of the Class 2A, Region 4 tournament. Another during a playoff prevented one Hurricane from advancing as an individual.

That means Elliot, a junior who had the third-lowest score (77) at last week's district tournament, is the only Palm Harbor golfer to advance to the region tournament today at Serenoa.

"I was kind of hoping they would pull it off and we would all go as a team," Elliot said.

He even drove a cart during teammate Stephen Myers' playoff, shuttling him to the tee.

"He kept saying, 'Steve, I want somebody to go with me. Make this,"' Hurricanes coach Brent League said.

Instead, Elliot will have to face the region's best alone. League said he'll be there with snacks, water and support but is going to hang back.

"I'm going to stay out of his way and let him do what he does," League said.

All season, Elliot has played stroke for stroke with the county's best, averaging 37.2 in conference play. After tying the school record with a low round of 34 a few times, Elliot broke it last month, shooting 33 at Lost Oaks. He said he eagled a par 5, birdied a par 5 and kept making his putts.

"He's consistent," Myers said. "You can always count on his score."

But this time, Elliot's score will only count for himself.

Elliot, 17, has been playing golf since he was 10. His instructor lives in Gainesville, so he works most of the time on his own.

"He's very solid at knowing his swing," League said. "He's a very good coach for himself."

Elliot would like to make a living out of the sport and plays everyday.

"Right after school I go play and golf until dark," Elliot said.

As hard as he works, Myers said during practice Elliot is a lot of fun.

"He's real outgoing and he speaks his mind," Myers said. "If he plays bad (in practice), he goes into silent mode and he goes to his own little place."

During matches, Elliot also is quiet and reserved. Despite how he's playing, Elliot said he tries to stay focused.

"I try to stay calm and try to not worry about where I'm at so it doesn't get to me," Elliot said. "I just try to take it one shot at a time."

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