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Royal Knights' No. 1 player could be No. 1 at Newberry

Meredith Soanes gets a scholarship to the South Carolina college.

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- River Ridge girls golf coach Steve Knobl was pretty impressed with the job his squad did this season. After fielding a small team that went just 3-11 in 1998, the Royal Knights turned around their fortunes with an 11-3 record.

The roster also was impressive, as River Ridge took as many as 15 girls to matches. The Royal Knights were the Sunshine Athletic Conference runners-up and snapped Gulf's two-year regular-season unbeaten streak.

Now Knobl is even happier to see that success pay off for his top golfer.

Senior Meredith Soanes has accepted a scholarship from Newberry (S.C.) College, where she could line up in the Indians' top spot as soon as next year.

"The coach told me they've lost a lot of people," Soanes said, "so hopefully I'll get the chance to compete right away."

Knobl said Soanes deserves the opportunity.

"She really came through for us this season," he said. "We weren't expecting too much entering this season, but the kids came out and we really did a lot better than we thought.

"It was nice to see Meredith be rewarded for her hard work. She really helped us out. She was our top golfer this season."

Soanes, 17, said she was looking toward the Carolinas for school anyway. She was considering Wingate College and Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina, but then Newberry came forward with a scholarship package worth as much as $5,000.

"It's beautiful out there," she said.

BY THE WAY: Knobl, who will be coaching girls golf and basketball at new Mitchell High next season, already likes what he sees in his new program.

Three eighth-graders who will be freshman in the fall, Amanda Palmer, Amanda Moore and Christina Beach, are experienced ball-strikers who have played mini-tours at Fox Hollow.

"A lot of the teams in the area have lost a lot of talent," Knobl said, "so this group of girls can be very competitive in that environment. It should be wide open this year."

HERE COMES MEMORIAL DAY: And Magnolia Valley will be ready, opening up the course to the public with special offers, prizes and open tee times on May 29.

The club has private members and already allows members of the public to golf there, but for Memorial Day the course will be throwing open the reservation book for the public to play. Prizes also will be given out. For more information, call (727) 847-2342.

SIGN THEM UP: Seven Springs is offering a junior program in June for kids ages 7 to 18.

The clinic begins June 14 and runs through the 24th. No times have been set yet, but there will be one-hour sessions. The classes will be divided into a series of six lessons three times a week and by age groups from 7-12 and 13-18.

The students will be instructed by PGA professionals and apprentices. The program stresses course etiquette, rules and the basics of the game.

There also will be weekly contests and giveaways. All participants will be custom-fit with a set of clubs by the end of the clinic.

The final session on June 24 will be a fun day. There will be a luncheon at which the kids will receive their clubs and any additional practice or instructional aids.

The fee is $65 per child. For more information, contact Mike Glenn at (727) 376-0035.

IT TAKES TWO: Adults won't be left out this summer. Seven Springs also will be offering a clinic for couples in June.

The one-hour sessions will begin at 10 a.m. on June 4, 11 and 18. They will focus on the swing and the short game. Instruction will be given by PGA pros and apprentices.

The fee is $100 per couple. Space is limited to just 10 couples. For more information, contact Mike Glenn or Joey Harrison at (727) 376-0035.

PERFECTION WATCH: Magnolia Valley's John Stone aced the 106-yard, par-3 No. 6 hole at his course Tuesday.

-- Got golf? Contact Pasco Times golf writer Jamal Thalji by phone at (352) 521-5757, ext. 25; by e-mail at thalji@sptimes.com; or by fax at (352) 521-0290.

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