Invitational boasts elite collegians
By DAVE THEALL
Published January 4, 2006
The field for the 80th annual New Year's Invitational at St. Petersburg Country Club, with 80 players with handicaps of 2 or less, appears to be as potent as ever.
And that's without 2003 winner John Holmes of Kentucky and '05 winner Jeff Overton of Indiana. They both earned their PGA Tour cards last month at Q-School.
Among the top college players lined up by tournament director Richard Hope are:
Luke List, a junior at Vanderbilt who finished second at the 2004 U.S. Amateur and went on to make the cut at 2005's Masters and finished 32nd. Adam Scrimenti, a senior at Johnson & Wales from Sarasota, shot 12-under in last year's New Year's Invitational to finish second.
Mike Barbosa, a senior at Georgia Tech from St. Petersburg, is the local favorite. He led the Yellow Jackets to a runnerup finish in the 2005 NCAA Championships.
Dalton Melnyk of Atlanta, a recent graduate of Florida, finished third last year.
Former tournament winner Buddy Alexander, the Florida Gators coach, is sending six players down from Gainesville. They are Jessie Mudd, Ryan Cochran, Will Strickler, Tyler Rucarean, Toby Ragland and Ben Hartmann.
The University of Tennessee will be represented by Jon Mount, Phil Pettitt and Ben Spickard.
Both the University of California and Kentucky will have several team members, including the Wildcats' Cale Barr, runnerup for the '05 State Amateur. Other colleges represented include Duke, Virginia, Ole Miss, Missouri, Kansas, Ball State, Eckerd, North Florida, Seton Hall and Georgia State.
Three-time winner John Corzilius of Venice is a perennial contender. He finished tied for sixth with List and Rucarean last year.
Other area players of note include John Veghte, Sam Lewis, P.J. Penrose of the host club and Ryan Cockman.
The senior division, 55 and older, will be strong with defending champion Doug Root in the field, Jim Holbrook, plus former winners Kent Whittemore and Phil Leckey.
Starting Thursday at 11 a.m., the seniors will play from the white tees. The championship divisions - students and mid-amateurs - will play from the blue tees at 6,718 yards on all four days for the first time.
FATHER-SON TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Dennis and Joe Williams used hot putters to claim victory in last week's tournament, which was held over two days at Tarpon Woods Country Club.
The dynamic duo opened with 4-under 68 in the scramble format, two strokes out of first behind Ken and Chris Fawcett and Steve and Andrew Turker of Dunedin.
On Thursday in the better-ball format, the Williams stormed back with 76 and 144 total to squeeze out the win by two strokes.
The Turkers tied with Tampa's Mick and Tyson McClimans at 146. On a match of scorecards, second place went to the McClimans.
Dennis Williams, 59, a Cypress Run member, said putting kept him and his son in the thick of it right down to the final hole.
"What saved us was four one-putt greens on the front and four on our second nine," he said. The sons among this foursome had some credentials.
Andrew Turker, who played for Berkeley Prep, is the senior captain of the Cornell University team.
Joe Williams, 33, of Palm Harbor, is a former mini-tour pro who had to sit out of competition three years to regain his amateur status. He played on the Golden Bear, Emerald Coast, Moonlight and Tommy Armour tours. His average length off the tees, 280 yards by his father's estimate, also was a big contributing factor.
But when push came to shove on the final day, it was dad leading the way with par-saving putts of 15 and 6 feet on their 17th and 18th holes, which separated them from the field.
INTERNATIONAL JUNIORS: Last week's Canadian Junior Golf Association's World Challenge at Innisbrook included players from north of the border, Europe and South America, but three local standouts won the first-place trophies.
P.J. Kolosvary, a Countryside High senior, opened strong with 4-under 66 on the Highlands North course and went on to post 72 and a final-round 71 on the Copperhead course to win by six with 209.
Matt Cooney (Tampa-Gaither) went to a second playoff hole with Jhared Hack of Heathrow before securing the win in the boys 14-16 division. Preston Knox of Dunedin tied for third at 227.
Dakoda Dowd, 12, of Palm Harbor, shot steady rounds of 74-78-74-226 to easily win the girls division by 10 strokes. Brienna Heinzler, 16, also of Palm Harbor, finished second (80-80-76-236), followed by Justine Knox, 13, of Dunedin, fifth at 242.
LARGO SCRAMBLE: Seminole's Don Crotty again advanced to the winners' circle in the biweekly scramble at the city course. He teamed with Joe Mattie, Bob Winkler and Wayne Moore, all of Largo, in the final match of they year. They shot 12-under 50 for the win over 13 other teams.
[Last modified January 4, 2006, 01:07:18]
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