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Cougar senior remains hot after big year

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2000


David Cosper is on a roll.

In a span of six weeks, the Countryside senior helped his team to the Class 2A state tournament where he finished tied for eighth with a 1-under-par 143.

Two weeks later, he won an International Junior Golf Tour event in Palm Coast with a 73-70-143.

Last week, Cosper took first out of a field of 51 at the National High School Coaches Association Seniors Championship, a tournament open to all high school seniors, with a 70-76-146.

In the middle of those tournaments, Cosper also gave an oral commitment to Florida.

"I've been swinging it well lately," Cosper said. "I've been working on my swing since the end of summer, and I think now it's finally starting to show."

That's not to say Cosper had a disappointing senior season. He had a 36.5 nine-hole average in regular-season tournaments. But he said he has been working on his swing all season.

He worked with former Tarpon Springs golfer Michael Koulianos, who now is a teaching professional. He tweaked his swing and paid special attention to his short game.

The result was increasingly low scores. Cosper shot 77s at the district and regional tournaments to help Countryside qualify for the state tournament. He followed that with an eighth-place finish at the Fairwinds Golf Course in Fort Pierce.

"David's been one of our most consistent golfers," Countryside coach Greg Bryant said. "When he gets it going, he can shoot some low numbers."

Cosper has been with Countryside for four years. He has bided his time behind other top golfers, but this year, he emerged as the No. 1 player on a talented team. Countryside finished fifth out of 16 teams at the state tournament, its best finish ever.

"It's gone by so fast," Cosper said. "We had our season-ending party after the state tournament, and it was hard to believe that this was the last time we were all going to be together. It was a quick four years."

Now Cosper is starting over. He'll play in American Junior Golf Association events starting in April. Then in the fall, he'll have to work his way up a very competitive Florida depth chart.

Just being at Florida is somewhat of a surprise. Cosper always wanted to go to Florida State. Both of his parents graduated from FSU and Seminoles football games have been a family tradition.

But during the recruiting process, FSU lost interest and Florida coach Buddy Alexander continued to pursue Cosper. In the middle of the golf season, Cosper switched from an FSU golf hat to one with a Florida logo.

"I bought my dad a hat that says "Gator Dad' on it," Cosper said. "I hope he wears it."

Cosper has put his sticks away for a while. An aching right knee forced him to skip the Dixie Amateur tournament this week. He'll take the holidays off before getting back to the practice range.

It was certainly a good fall for Cosper, the highlight of which was playing in the state tournament.

"It was a highlight for me because I was in contention," Cosper said. "And it was good because all our guys played well. It was a good way for me to go out."

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