Oldsmar player just misses victory

Published July 14, 2007

There were some tense moments on the 18th and final hole of the three-day Innisbrook Amateur that ended Sunday.

Thirty-six hole leader (73-72) Sam Rosati, 20, of Oldsmar teed it up on the par-4 dogleg left hole one stroke behind Takeshi Fuchigami of Tampa. Rosati drove his tee shot far left into the woods and into water.

That seemingly doomed his chances to a least salvage a tie and a playoff. But after taking a penalty stroke, Rosati executed a risky approach shot that found the green 65 feet above the cup. Rosati was back in the picture.

Fuchigami's opening drive was down the middle, but his approach shot was to the far left side of the green, and the pin was 45 feet away on a breaking curve. Rosati narrowly missed a par putt and made bogey. And Fuchigami also bogeyed by three-putting but held his lead, his first priority, for a win the 15th annual event.

"I was sixth here last year, so it was nice to win this time," said Fuchigami, 22, who plays out of Avila in Tampa and aspires to turn pro when he's ready.

"I haven't won a tournament since the Hunter's Green Championship a couple of years ago, so this win gives me renewed confidence."

Mike Sanderson of Homosassa finished strong with 1-over 73 on Innisbrook's Island course to earn a share of third place with Dunedin's Ken Palladino. A consistent senior (55-plus) with the County Golf Association, Sanderson was playing the challenging Island course for the first time. He won the First Flight of the tournament.

Rick Kerper of Safety Harbor and Jeremy Evans of Palm Harbor tied for fifth after shooting 10-over 226. In last year's tournament, they also tied after 54 holes but for first place. In that match, Evans made par on the first playoff hole for the title.

OTHER FLIGHT WINNERS: Mike Walters of Tampa, a former U.S. Senior Amateur semifinalist, recovered from an opening 81 with 76 and 74 for 231 and the Second Flight title. Alan Deichler, a member at Feather Sound, won the Third Flight with 80-81-78-239.

Doug Jones of Brandon, Tom Quinn of Tampa and Valrico's Jeff Clarke won Flights 4, 5 and 6, respectively.

CGA: After three grueling days in the hot sun at Innisbrook, Sanderson was back in the fray Monday at the county match at St. Petersburg Country Club. Not surprisingly, Sanderson, teamed with Tony Baccari of Odessa, won with 3-under 69.

In the senior division, it was Clearwater's Richard Bullock (again) in the winner's circle, this time paired with Bill Sanders. They shot 68.

In net scoring, Bob Cargo teamed with Chris Oliver for 59, which tied Roger Gillespie, who played solo.

U.S. SENIOR OPEN: Clearwater's Frank Saxon, 57, a multiple CGA Championship winner, stepped into the national limelight last week after qualifying for the 28th annual tournament at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

"It was brutal out there with thick rough and gusty winds coming off Lake Michigan," Saxon said. "If your tee shot found the rough, forget it, you'll never make par. You just had to punch out into the rolling fairways."

Saxon's challenge was also enhanced by the fact that his opening round was cut short by rain forcing, him to play - and walk - 26 holes Friday. Still, he improved the second day with 83 after opening with 87.

"All in all, it was pretty exciting," Saxon said. "I got to talk with Fuzzy Zoeller on the practice range and flew back to Tampa seated beside Wayne Levi. They said the course was just as tough for them. All in all, it was fun."

Brad Bryant won over Ben Crenshaw, Loren Roberts and Tom Watson.

LONG DRIVING PROS: Clearwater's Steve Monroe ripped a drive 350 yards at last weekend's RE/MAX St. Louis match, defeating five-time World Champion Jason Zuback and winning $12,000. It was the Clearwater High graduate's second strong finish this season. In May, he finished second in the RE/MAX Shootout in Dallas.

BOYS STATE: Zach Sobel, 16, of Palm Harbor University shared third-place honors with defending champion Blayne Barber of Lake City in the 53rd annual championship in Ocala earlier this week. The two-time Times' player of the year shot rounds of 70, 73 and 74 for 1-over 217. His steady play couldn't overcome the late charge by Michael Hebert of Orlando, who crafted a final-round 69 to go with his 70 and 75 for the win by two strokes over Taylor Szyndlar of Jupiter.

More than 340 entries were received by the Florida State Golf Association for the tournament. The field included some college freshmen.

Travis Ralph of Redington Beach tied for 12th with 225. Tyler Wilkins of Clearwater posted 233.

In the boys 13-15 age division, M.J. Maguire of St. Petersburg tied for seventh with 223, followed by Largo's Kollin Woodbury at 230 and Taylor Hancock of Clearwater, 235.

NORTH & SOUTH AMATEUR: Valrico's Matthew Galloway, winner of last week's State Am at Innisbrook, was eliminated in the first round of match play at Pinehurst, N.C. Clemson lefty Phil Mollica won the 36-hole event 8 and 6 over Ray Sheedy. It was the 107th playing of the event.

GIRLS INVITED: Elite Pinellas juniors Andrea Messer and Evan Jensen, both former state high school runnersup, have been invited to next week's Betsy Rawls Girls Championship in Pennsylvania. It's an AJGA major. Messer said she would go but her practice partner, Jensen, won't. Jensen is ranked 46th among girls by Golfweek; Messer is 96th. Vicky Hurst of Melbourne is No. 4.