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Local heading to U.S. Senior Amateur

By DAVE THEALL, Times Correspondent
Published August 19, 2007


In golf, it's not how you do it, it's simply how many strokes it takes.

At Monday's U.S. Senior Amateur Championship qualifier at Belleair Country Club, member Bob Wayland used all his skills and more to carve out a round of 1-over 72 from the back tees to get his ticket punched to the big show in Andover, Kan., starting Sept. 1.

Only two players from the field of 36 advance to join the full 156 for the 53rd annual championship at Flint Hills National Golf Club.

On the par-4 16th, Wayland was 4 over. He promptly erased three strokes over the final three holes.

First, he drove the 294-yard hole to within inches for a tap-in eagle.

On 17, he parred despite having to hit out of the woods.

On the final hole, before a group of spectators, Wayland's erratic approach shot found the greenside bunker. No problem.

He drained his wedge shot for birdie and the second spot from the sectional qualifier for the national championship.

"Overall, I had a good round despite three three-putt greens," said Wayland, who plays to a 1 handicap at Belleair. "Salvaging par after coming out of the woods on 17 saved me."

Phil Johnson of Valrico was the medalist finishing late with a score of 71 in his second attempt to qualify for the national title for men 55 and over.

NOTES: The field at Belleair was strong with contestants who have played at the national level. They include Bruce Scamehorn, who posted 75, and Tampa's Mike Walters, who advanced to the round of 64 at the championship two of the past three years. On Monday, he shot 80. ... Frank Saxon of Clearwater advanced to match play in the Senior Am in 2005.

STATE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP: Three Pinellas men advanced to match play for the top 64 players, then lost in the first round.

They were Sam Rosati and Justin Meier of Oldsmar, and Zach Zehnder of Indian Rocks Beach.

In the final, Raj Hahal of Eustis won 1 up over Chris Kennedy, 18, of Bradenton. Kennedy will play for the University of North Florida this fall.

STATE JUNIOR MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP: Two Pinellas teens advanced deep into match play at the recent state tournament at Eagle Creek in Orlando.

After qualifying for match play with 5-under 68, Mike Baskovich of Clearwater won his first two matches before losing to Pete Kellermann of Jacksonville in 23 holes. Kellermann is a recent AJGA winner.

Nick Buccina of Tarpon Springs won his first three matches before losing to Amit Odaiyar of Bradenton in the semifinals 3 and 1. Odaiyar lost 2 and 1 to Kevin Aylwin in the finals.

STATE JUNIOR TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: The First Tee of St. Petersburg sent a 16-18 boys team to Walt Disney World last weekend, where the team finished 10th overall.

Devin Hernandez shot 75-77-152, John Valenty posted 76-77-153, and teammate Trey Hill shot 81-81-162. They scored 305 using each day's two best scores.

Palm Beach County won with 284.

COUNTY GOLF: Tony Baccari and Mike Sanderson of Homosassa squeezed out a narrow win (68) at Monday's better-ball match at Countryside.

A single stroke back were Ken Palladino of Dunedin and Jeff Neugebauer of Odessa.

Bill Johnson teamed with Bill O'Hara (70) for the senior title. Ernie Meier and Bill Haldeman shot 62 to edge Larry Deavers and Robert Hathaway (63).

APPOINTMENT: Chris Slattery (Largo High/UNF) has been appointed head pro at Avila in Tampa. After stints at Innisbrook, Countryside and Deercreek (Jacksonville), Slattery returned to the area Aug. 8.

THIS WEEKEND: The Ryan Wells Memorial Junior Classic at Innisbrook's Highland North and South courses has attracted a strong field in three divisions. The boys are divided into high school and middle school; the girls into just one group.

As of Aug. 11, the girls field will be headed by Evan Jensen and Meghan Chapman, who finished third and fifth last year, respectively, behind winner Dakoda Dowd of Palm Harbor and runnerup Whitney Wenglasz of Oldsmar.

Jack Twomey of Tampa will be back to try to move up one place in the boys high school division. Last year he posted two rounds of 70, only to see Matt Cooney shoot 6-under 65 in the final round to go with his opening 72 for the win with 137.

Last year's third-place finisher, Rick Kittelstad of Lutz, is in the field, along with Mike Baskovich, Nick Buccina, Taylor Hancock, Terry O'Reilly, Travis Ralph, Tyler Wilkins, Greg McClimans and Justin Foster, plus players from Naples, Sarasota and Ocala. Play begins today at 8 a.m.

BELLEAIR: Belleair hosts a PGA West Central Chapter Pro-Am event Monday. For details, call the pro shop at 442-0229.

[Last modified August 18, 2007, 22:39:18]

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