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Twiner preparing for college with a flourish

The Crystal River graduate has her stroke average down to 76.2 in a busy schedule of tournaments, practices and lessons before she heads for Western Carolina U.

By CAREY FREEMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


CRYSTAL RIVER -- Let's put it this way: Rebecca Twiner isn't very fond of poor finishes.

So, while the Crystal River graduate bides her time before leaving for Western Carolina University, she is leaving us with a little reminder of her talent.

Make that a strong reminder.

In her final season of junior golf, Twiner is well under her stroke average of a year ago, and in seven tournaments involving the North Suncoast Junior Golf Association and the West Central Chapter Junior Golf Association, the three-time high school district champion is 7-0 in her division.

Par for the course for one of the best female golfers to come from Citrus County.

Yet, for Twiner, there is always another level to climb to. In this case, she is looking to elevate her game for college play, and the only way to get there is to practice, practice, practice.

"It seems like I've been playing every day," Twiner said on Tuesday. "I'm still taking a lesson once a week (from World Woods professional Scott Wycoff). Yesterday I played in a tournament. (Wednesday) I'll play with my dad (Owen). I have another tournament I'm playing (today), and a lesson on Friday."

All that work is not going to waste. Twiner is currently two strokes under her 18-hole average of a year ago at 76.2, posting scores in the low and mid-70s with regularity. And her goal is pretty clear cut: She wants to make an impact in her first season with the Catamounts.

"My game is good," said Twiner, who departs for Western Carolina on Aug. 18. "We start school on Tuesday (Aug. 22) and we start practicing the next day, so I'll be going right into it. Right now I think (my game) is pretty stable where it is at, but there's always room for improvement."

Which is why she plans to enter more tournaments in the next several weeks. Her schedule leaves her time to complete the seasons in both local junior associations, which is not very good news for the competition. Twiner has shot over 80 in competition just once this summer and has gone as low as 71 in one event.

On Monday, Twiner started with a bogey, but finished with five straight pars in the rain-shortened NSJGA event at El Diablo in Citrus Springs for her seventh victory this summer. Today she will be competing in a West Central Chapter event at Scotland Yards in Dade City.

"I always want to win every tournament," Twiner said, "but you never know what kind of day you're going to have. I could have a bad day or a great day, or I could be totally out of it. My goal in every tournament is to stay focused and do the best I can."

There is a part of Twiner that doesn't want to leave her family and friends in Citrus County. But there is another part -- a more competitive side -- that relishes the challenges that will come once she begins competing in college. In addition, Twiner already has struck up a relationship with many of her future teammates and said she feels very comfortable with Catamounts coach Steve Lott.

"The first thing I'll have to do is get used to courses up there," she said. "The greens are more deceiving than they are here. Most are either uphill or downhill putts. It's just little stuff I'll have to work on, but not much.

"Plus, anything new is always fun. I think it will be fun. I'm not so much ready to leave home as I am ready to take the next step."

JUNIOR TOURNAMENT: Joel Coffman fired an 83 Sunday to win the age 16-17 boys division in the weekly West Central Chapter Junior Golf Association event at Biltmore Country Club.

Clifton Williams (78) tied with Matt Gessner atop the 14-15 group and won in a match of cards. Justin Greene (95) was best among ages 12-13, and Alex Cohen shot a 42 over nine holes to win the 10-11 group.

Hana Young shot a 79 to win the girls division.

HOLE-IN-ONE: Spring Hill's Roy Zinkiewicz on Sunday shot only the second hole-in-one ever at Heritage Pines, which opened in Hudson in January. He used a 6-iron on the par-3, 171-yard sixth hole, giving him easily the highlight of an otherwise forgettable day.

"It was one of my worst rounds in months (an 87), but that sure made up for it," said Zinkiewicz, 49, a retired detective who moved to Spring Hill from New York 12 years ago.

It was Zinkiewicz's second ace. His first came at Sherman Hills on New Year's Eve 1996.

NSJGA UPDATE: The North Suncoast Junior Golf Association's tournament Monday at El Diablo Country Club in Dunnellon was suspended and canceled after heavy rains. Scores in only three of 10 divisions were counted. The NSJGA is off this weekend, with the next tournament at The Dunes at Seville on July 8.

JUNIOR CLINIC: Sherman Hills will host three clinics for competitive juniors ages 13-17 on Sunday afternoons this summer.

The sessions are scheduled for July 23-30, Aug. 6-13 and Aug. 20-27. Participants receive lunch, 75 minutes of instruction and nine holes of golf for $15 per week.

Call Valerie Brown at (352) 544-0990 for more information.

Staff writers Brant James and Greg Auman contributed to this report.

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