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Regional tourneys bring pressure


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000

In high school golf, there are two seasons. There is the regular season, where golfers hone their swings and coaches experiment with lineups. Then there is the post-season, where golfers sweat every shot and coaches hold their breath.

In reality, not much matters in the regular season. Just ask the Seminole boys team. In 10 previous seasons, the Warhawks have never finished any lower than fourth at the district tournament. But this season, with the top four teams advancing to this week's regional tournament, Seminole had a bad day and finished sixth. Season over.

To avoid that fate, golfers try to peak at this time of year. Largo's Megan Riley is a prime example. Riley felt her game slipping away a month ago. Her swing was off, her confidence was low and her scores were high. She knew she had to get it together fast.

"Coming into districts, I wasn't playing well," Riley said. "So I had to get away from the golf course. I had to get back to reality. I had to think about the things I was doing wrong and then work on them. When I was playing badly, I was making the same mistakes over and over."

Riley sat down with coach Bill Schroeder and focused on the mental part of golf. They talked about staying focused, playing smart, taking it shot by shot.

The fundamental approach worked. Riley shot a 2-over-par 74 last week in the district tournament. Armed with confidence once again, Riley hopes to keep things going Monday in the regional tournament at Belleview Biltmore, her home course.

"I just have to stay focused," Riley said. "If I do that, I can play well."

For other players and teams, the district tournament was merely another chance to showcase their talent. The Countryside girls and boys teams were two of the best in the county this season, and that didn't change last week.

The Cougar boys eased to a district championship with three players shooting in the 70s. Countryside's girls also finished first at districts.

"We're playing pretty well as a team right now," said Countryside senior Jimmy Fitzpatrick, who shot a team-low 76 at districts. "We've got some guys that can shoot low. You hope we can do it on the same day.

"Our goal is to win a state championship, so we have to play well."

The top two teams plus the top two individuals advance to the state tournament.

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