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Gleason pleased with her LPGA progress

Published September 10, 2006

A former standout junior golfer from Clearwater High is finding her game on the LPGA Tour.

Jenny Gleason, twice named the Times' high school player of the year who went on to excel at UNC-Greensboro, is coming off a successful outing at the State Farm Classic last weekend in Springfield, Ill.

After opening rounds of 71-71 for 2-under 142 to make the cut, Gleason finished with 73-73 for par 288. That was good for a tie for 58th with a paycheck of $3,506.

Overall this season, Gleason has made three LPGA cuts and missed by a single stroke three times in nine starts. She is averaging 1.83 putts per green and is ranked 30th in sand saves.

"That was a confidence booster in Illinois, and I know I'm getting better," said Gleason in an interview from Broken Arrow, Okla., the gateway to Tulsa where she is playing this weekend. "I've been patient this year, and it's paying off. And this course will help me. There's a premium on accuracy off the tee and hitting greens in regulation. That's my game. Plus, I have a new caddie and he's been a great help."

Gleason, 26, is playing in the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic, hoping to first make Saturday's cut then go on to a more lucrative payday on Sunday.

The competition again will be keen. Defending champion Annika Sorenstam will be there, plus all the top players trying to improve their place on the tour's money list and trying to qualify for November's LPGA playoffs.

Gleason, who has conditional status on the LPGA Tour, came as close as possible on two occasions last year to gaining exempt status.

For most of 2005 on the developmental Futures Tour, she was ranked between second and fifth on the money list. The top five finishers on that tour earn exemption to the following year's LPGA Tour.

Winning back-to-back tournaments and $20,000 in June 2005 went a long way toward her success. But closing the year with finishes at 65th and 57th enabled two others to slip into the final two spots. Gleason was sixth with $34,138 for the year.

Gleason moved on to the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in Daytona Beach, Nov. 30-Dec. 4, where she shot steady rounds of 73-74-71-73-73--364. That score left her a single stroke out of a playoff for one of the three remaining spots for full exemption on the 2006 Tour. But her high priority status on the conditional list keeps her close to the phone for a call from LPGA headquarters.

"I still have a chance of making the top 125 on the money list this year for conditional status next year," said Gleason, who is 172nd. "I expect to be in at least five more events. ...If not, I'll probably go back to Q-School where I've played well the past two years. ...This game requires patience; it's a process."

MORE LPGA: Seminole's Brittany Lincicome finished in the top 10 for the fourth time this year with her tie for ninth at the State Farm Classic. Her final round of 6-under 66 enabled her to finish 14-under 274 for a purse of $28,115 to pass Bradenton's Paula Creamer on the money list. Lincicome ranks 11th overall.

CGA: St. Petersburg's Stan Lewis knew he had a special round underway early in last week's match at Lansbrook. Making pars and birdies led him to think he might shoot his age, 68, for the first time. He finished 1-over 73, which won the Senior Division and was four strokes better than Regular Division winner Decker Todd of Valrico.

JUNIOR FOLLOWUP: Countryside High's Tyler Wilkins was the top Pinellas finisher in the boys 16-18 division at last month's Sam Parks Invitational at Belleair Country Club. Wilkins shot rounds of 75-72-147 to tie for sixth, 11 strokes behind winner Matt Cooney of Gaither High.

Mike Bascovich of Clearwater finished at 148, followed by Belleair junior champion Greg McClimans (149) and Matt Alwin (150) of Belleair.

The top Pinellas boys after winner M.J. Maguire of St. Petersburg (72-72-143), were third-place Taylor Hancock of Clearwater (150) followed by Largo's David Dresslehouse (151) and Seminole's Devin Hernandez (152).

* At Naples, Clearwater's Taylor Hancock, who attends Skycrest Christian, defeated a large field in the boys 13-14 division of a South Florida Junior Tour event. He shot 69-68 for 7-under 137. M.J. Maguire took third with 146 (72-74).

JUNIOR RANKINGS: Largo High's Andrea Messer was the 59th-ranked girl by Golfweek for the 2005-06 season, which ended Aug. 31. Dakoda Dowd finished 69th, Evan Jensen 72nd and Courtney Harter 140th.

Among Pinellas boys, only P.J. Kolosvary of Safety Harbor made the list, finishing 108th.

MORE COLLEGES: The Nova women's team is one of five Florida Division II programs ranked among the top six in the nation by Golfweek. The others are: 1. Rollins, 2. Florida Southern, 4. Lynn, 5. West Florida.

The Florida men's team is ranked 14th. Sophomore Billy Horschel is a preseason all-American.

COMING UP: On Monday, East Lake Woodlands will begin its defense of the Pinellas Men's Interclub title at Lansbrook at 1 p.m.

On Friday, the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual scramble at Belleview Biltmore. It starts at 1 p.m. and is limited to 72 players.

The Egypt Temple Shriners Pro-Am Scramble is Friday with a 1 p.m. tee time at Dunedin Country Club. It's a benefit for Gabby Falcone, 6, of Dunedin, who has been treated (17 operations) for a muscle disorder at the Shriners Hospital in Tampa.

[Last modified September 9, 2006, 21:03:28]

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