Teenage amateurs Tryon, Takacs capture attention
By DAVE THEALL
© St. Petersburg Times,
Whereas professional golfers predictably dominated the U.S. Open local qualifiers last month, two teenage amateurs stole the spotlight in the Legacy at Alaqua Lakes course in Longwood.
Ty Tryon of Orlando took medalist honors with a 7-under 65. He was followed by Clearwater's Brendan Takacs, a 1999 graduate of Countryside High School who just completed his freshman year at the University of Central Florida.
Takacs, 19, was the runner-up with a 67 among six players who advanced to a sectional qualifier Tuesday and hope to capture a berth in the 101st Open. It will be played June 14-17 at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.
Takacs hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation, making 5 birdies and only 2 bogeys in his best competitive round. The highlight was consecutive birdies on the fourth, fifth and sixth holes, pars 4, 3 and 5, respectively.
"It was one of my best ever ball-striking rounds," said Takacs, a member at Countryside Country Club where he's the reigning champion.
"Basically, I drove long and straight and consistently hit good approach shots," he said. "If I can play like that at Old Memorial (in sectional), there'll be no problem (qualifying). I realize I'll have to have my "A' game there."
Reportedly, there are only three qualifying spots at Old Memorial, with 56 pros and 10 amateurs in the hunt.
The one part of Takacs' performance in the local qualifier that didn't satisfy him was his putting. With that in mind, he traveled down to Bradenton last week for a quick lesson from teaching pro Tim Sheredy at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
"He got me to stand a little further away from the ball and raise my hands a little," Takacs said.
The sectional qualifier involves 36 holes of walking, which Takacs sees as no problem.
"I like that course," he said. "It fits my game because it's long, a ball-striker's course without a lot of finesse. The greens are real undulated and quick."
NOTES: Former Georgia Tech all-American Matt Kucher, a resident of Jupiter, was a stroke back of Takacs in the qualifier at Longwood.
The Seminole-based Moonlight Tour had 45 former or current members advance from Open local qualifiers to sectionals. Among them were Chris Strong of Dunedin, St. Petersburg's John Lindner, a lefty who plays out of Mangrove Bay; ex-Clearwater resident Gary Sica and Tampa's Tim Petrovic, who has been playing successfully on the buy.comtour.
Strong, 36, a native of Ottawa, appears to be the hottest of the four, having won a moonlighttour.com event last week with a 5-under 67 at Huntington Hills in Lakeland.
Strong finished second in the Hunter's Green qualifier with a 3-under 69, consisting of 5 birdies and 2 bogeys. He played a practice round Sunday at Old Memorial and rested Monday for the 36-hole sectional marathon.
"Thirty six holes walking concerns me," said Strong, another Countryside member, "but the Moonlight Tour has prepared me for this challenge. I'm ready for the pressure."
Frank Magee, director of the Moonlight Tour, said the large number of west central Florida qualifiers attests to the quality of area talent and speaks well for the ability of aspiring players to hone their skills in his mini tour.
"The amazing thing is that 13 of the Moonlight qualifiers were local medalists or co-medalists," Magee said of his 8-year-old program. "They don't play off when there's a tie."
PINELLAS INTERCLUB: Cove Cay head pro Steve Bagley fired a 6-over 78 to pace his 10-member team to a victory in the season's ninth match, hosted by East Lake Woodlands last month.
In the better-ball format, the squad got a big boost from partners Steve Kennedy and Jack McCraney, who recorded a 65.
Cove Cay takes a one-stroke lead into the season's final match, which will be hosted Thursday by Belleair Country Club.
The Renaissance Vinoy is second in the standings and followed by Belleair and Belleview Biltmore. East Lake Woodlands and Seminole Lake are tied for fifth place.
East Lake assistant pro Steve Segesman had the round of the day, a 4-under 68.
The low amateur team was brothers Greg Gaetz, who carries a 15 handicap, and Kris Gaetz, a 6. Mike Johnson and Todd McGrath of Belleair tied for second with a 65.
WEST COAST WOMEN: Sandy Jones of Tampa Palms carded a 4-over 76 to win the WCWGA match May 24 at Innisbrook. Pinellas women won Flights A-D. Mary Miller of the Bayou Club won Flight A with an 85. Fay Edmondson, Innisbrook, took Flight B with an 82. Toni Robey of Countryside captured the Flight C title with an 87, and Nancy Mag, Innisbrook, won Flight D with an 86.
COLLEGE: Amanda Dick, a 2000 graduate of Countryside High School, led the Florida women's squad in scoring at last month's NCAA Central Regional tournament hosted by Purdue University.
Dick shot 234 (77-75-82) after her team-leading 219 (72-75-72) in the SEC Championships hosted by the Gators. On the season, she averaged 78.06, third best on the team behind Brittany Straza (75.82) and Jeanne Cho (77.65).
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