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Tierra Verde's Cully overcomes late five-stroke deficit for win

Published May 11, 2005

When is the last time you heard of a professional golfer making up a five-stroke deficit on a tournament's final hole to win it all?

Jennifer Cully, 36, of Tierra Verde did just that in last week's LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) Southeast Section Championship at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens.

In a scene similar to the final round of the 1999 British Open, in which Jean Van De Velde of France lost a three-stroke lead and eventually the title with a triple-bogey on the 72nd hole, Cully capitalized on the leader's five-over 9 on No. 36 in the LPGA event.

Briefly, Cully drove down the middle of the par-4 final hole while her main opponent, Pam Brosnihan of Lake Worth, drove into a fairway bunker. Brosnihan's second shot landed in a green-side bunker, and Cully found the green from 147 yards. After a 20-minute rain delay, Brosnihan took six strokes to extricate herself from the sand box. She one-putted from 8 feet, but that amounted to a 5-over nine on the hole. Cully birdied for a 3 for a remarkable six-stroke difference on the final hole.

Brosnihan "was in (the bunker) deep and kept going straight for the pin," Cully said. "She kept chunking it. She could have more easily come out into the fairway and onto the green, but she persisted. To her credit, she was very gracious at the end. She congratulated me."

More important than the $3,300 Cully received, the victory secures a spot in the McDonald's LPGA Championship, June 9-12 in Harve de Grace, Md. The Apollo Beach Golf Club head pro qualified for the LPGA major along with four other Teaching and Club Pro section winners from across the country. "I'm most proud of this win because of the quality of players in our eight-state section and the fact that the win has major implications," Cully said.

T&CP NOTES: Cully posted 73 and 74 in the sectional. But bogeys on 13, 14, 15 and 16 during the final day put her in a deep hole, in which she narrowly escaped. Cully has played in four other LPGA Tour events but never a major. She will compete for the LPGA T&PC crown in July.

WOMEN'S STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: North Port's Gennifer Mendez, 17, won last week's amateur title at Southern Dunes in Haines City. In the final, Mendez defeated Weston's Diane Lang 4 and 3. Terrell Italiano of Tampa lost to Mendez in a 2 and 1 quarterfinal. Tierra Verde's Mary Ann Petrillo had a 79 in the opening stroke-play round, which dropped her into the consolation flight. Petrillo got on a roll, winning her first three matches. However, in the final match, she lost to Lady Lake's Sharon Keil 2 and 1. Clearwater's Christine Martin was defeated 4 and 3 in the third-flight final by Christine Woods of Vero Beach.

STATE CLUB TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Wentworth Golf Club finished fifth among 30 teams in the two-round tournament at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie. The winning squad included David Niles, Wayne Cesky, Michael Cook and David McShera.

DUNEDIN CITY INVITATIONAL: In a scramble format, 4-under 68 held up for the winning women's team Saturday at Dunedin Country Club. The members were Barb Lehr, Emily Morey, Kim Fachtmann and Connie Mason. It took a match of scorecards to separate the two top squads. On the No. 1-handicap hole, a 321-yard par-4 eighth, Lehr's drive and approach shot were used, then she sank the winning putt from 15 feet. In the men's division, 14-under 58 captured first. The winning foursome consisted of Mike Silvernail, Mark Dremstedt, Ed Heckman and Don Uhl.

U.S. OPEN QUALIFIER: Innisbrook will play host today to a first-round qualifier for the national championship, June 16-19 in Pinehurst, N.C. Starting at 8 a.m., 22 county pros and low-handicap amateurs will be in contention for an estimated five spots to advance to a sectional qualifier. Two of Pinellas' top players, Dunedin's Bob Heintz, fully exempt of the PGA Tour, and Georgia Tech's Mike Barbosa of St. Petersburg, are in a group that starts at 9:12 a.m. Rounding out the Pinellas field are Belleair's Matt Simmons an d Chris Simonds; Clearwater's Grant Abrams, Eric Blanchard, Robert Cronk and Andy Goodwin; Dunedin's Rick Kalil and Ken Palladino; Palm Harbor's Jay Overton, Danny Allen, Jeremy Evans, Ben Piehl, Joshua Pierce and Scott Sabadosh; St. Petersburg's Robert Baynard, Matt Saglio and Dan Stone; Denton Walker, St. Pete Beach; Patrick Olive and Lew Smither, Tarpon Springs; and the mini tour's Brett Weeks, Trinity.

NATIONWIDE TOUR: Dunedin's Bob Heintz and Greg Kraft of Feather Sound finished strong in the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday. Both had their best rounds of the tournament, with Heintz posting 3-under 69 and Kraft shooting 70. Heintz birdied five of his last six holes.

[Last modified May 11, 2005, 00:46:18]

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