Straight shooting gives seniors a win

By DAVE THEALL, Times Correspondent
Published February 9, 2008

Bill O'Hara, a retired police officer from Toledo, Ohio, is a straight shooter.

That's particularly important when the senior division tees at a County Golf Association better-ball match are set back to the blue ones and the fairways are narrow, as they were Monday at Wentworth in the East Lake area.

Playing with another 5-handicapper, Fred Cronkhite, a New England snowbird, they crafted 1-over 72 on the challenging course to win the senior division by three strokes over Art and Irene Sauve of Tarpon Springs.

"That course played to my strength in that I don't miss many fairways," O'Hara said. "And I practice my short game a lot, too, so that helps. But when I was off, Fred came through on his ball. ... Between us, we managed to make three birdies.

"That's about the fifth time in a row I've won a team match in the senior division," said O'Hara, 63, from Bayonet Point. "Usually I play with Bill Johnson, but he's recovering from major surgery, or Bobby Kilgore, who's off skiing, so to be matched up with someone new and still win was a pleasant surprise."

Juice Ahern, playing with partner Mark Wheaton of Tarpon Woods, had the shot of the day, sinking his pitch shot on the par-5 fifth hole for an eagle.

Jerry McClure and Rich Volcko of Spring Hill excelled from the black tees, crafting 68 to win the regular division by a stroke over Jeff Pett and Mike Sanderson of Homosassa. Sanderson is older than 55 and eligible to play with the seniors but prefers the more challenging competition.

West Coast Women: Lakeland's Sisi Hedges, the league champion in 2005 and '06, had a successful visit to Gulfport on Monday, shooting 6-over 78 for the win at Pasadena Country Club. Mary Ann Neary of East Lake Woodlands was a distant second, shooting 85.

Pinellas players swept flights A through D, headed by Kim Hollister of Innisbrook (85), who shared first with Jane Racila of Hunter's Green.

Kathy Conroywon B by a stroke with 88, just better than Cindy McManamon of Countryside. Cheryl Kinnebrew of Clearwater Country Club won C with 87, and Shirley Durfee (92) of the Vinoy and Kris Whitcraft (92) of the host course took D. Ninety-two players teed up.

Largo scramble: Twenty-one teams competed last week on the city course, and it took 15-under 47 for the win. The victorious members were Jim Sypprell of Madeira Beach, Vince Marquis of Indian Rocks Beach, Clyde Sawage of Redington Shores and Mike Casey of St. Petersburg.

Last week, three aces were made. Janet Van Natten of Largo made hers on the 17th hole, Ann Wallace of Tampa scored on the 12th, and George Mager of Indian Rocks Beach canned his on the third hole.

On Monday, Garnet Haley of Largo sank his tee shot on the 105-yard 16th.

Tides Club:Barry Foster of St. Petersburg aced the 122-yard fifth hole with an 8-iron on Feb. 2.

Juniors: At the Pinellas Police Athletic League (PAL) match at East Lake Woodlands, Christian Senger, a ninth-grader at Palm Harbor University, won with 5-over 41. Jake Johnson and Linzy Clark (East Lake High) tied for second. In the girls division, Brittany Gail and Sara Simon, both East Lake, finished 1-2 with scores of 49 and 50, respectively.

Deadline:Entries close for State Senior Championship on Feb. 27. Lake Jovita in Dade City will host a qualifier March 24. The championship will be held April 15-17 in Estero. To enter, go to www.fsga.org.

Pods Championship:J.B. Holmes, winner of last week's FBR Open, is set to tee it up March 6-9 in the PODS Championship at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club. Holmes, a former winner of the New Year's Invitational at St. Petersburg Country Club, won in a playoff with No. 2-rankedPhil Mickelson on Feb. 3.

Holmes, 25, the fastest player to reach $1-million on the PGA Tour, set in his rookie year of 2006, made news as a pre-teen golfer in Taylor County, Ky., where he grew up. He was on his high school golf team as a third-grader, was the No. 1 or No. 2 man by the fifth grade and won the Kentucky high school title as a sophomore, according to the tour's 2008 media guide. Last season, he averaged 313.1 yards driving, second best on tour.

Tampa's Ryuji Imada (University of Georgia) and Jeff Overton (University of Indiana), who are former winners of the New Year's Invitational, have committed to the PODS tournament as well.

Dunedin's John Huston (Auburn), the 2000 winner of the Tampa Bay Classic at Innisbrook, is in the fold as well.

Mickelson has not yet committed, tournament official Rick Odioso said.

For ticket information or more details, go to www.podschampionship.com.