LUTZ — For almost half her life, Steinbrenner junior Claire Becker had walked from her home off the sixth hole at Heritage Harbor to practice her short game.
All those extra strokes paid off Tuesday. Becker scrambled to save par on the first playoff hole and calmly drained a 6-footer on the third to edge teammate Alyssa Serino for the Class 3A, District 11 championship.
Both Warriors shot 77 in the first round to lead Steinbrenner to the team title with a four-player score of 323 — 89 strokes ahead of second-place Plant.
On the first playoff hole Becker’s second shot fell short, forcing her to get up and down and drain a “miraculous” 20-foot putt to force another hole.
“I don’t know (how I did it), to be honest,” Becker said.
Serino magically salvaged par on the next hole despite plopping her first shot into a gator pond. Both hit their tee shots on the next par 3 close to the pin, and Becker birdied to claim first place.
Alexandra Ackles and Addison Hill finished at 99 to put Plant ahead of Sickles. Both teams advance to next week’s region tournament.
Alonso’s Elysse Pillers, Grace Givens and Hailey Shaffer move on as individuals.
Plant’s boys team swept the top three spots to cruise to a district title with a team score of 290 — 12 strokes ahead of runnerup Steinbrenner.
“When you have four of the top six, it’s tough for them to overcome that,” said senior Todd Sessums, who shot 76.
Plant junior Patrick Mills had the day’s low round (70), one stroke ahead of Panther freshman Christopher Kern and three ahead of teammate Robert Eisch.
Zach Ishee (75) and freshman Baylor Griffin (76) were the top performers for the Warriors. Sickles sophomore Darin de Lelys and junior Joshua Bettencourt fired 77s to lead the Gryphons to regionals.
Individuals moving on are Gaither seniors Patrick Highland (79) and Nicholas Shea (81) and Alonso sophomore Nate Kosarich (81).
3A-13: Newsome shows it is still too tough
RIVERVIEW — Donte Davis made a bid to disrupt Newsome’s utter dominance, but the Riverview junior settled for second-place honors as his Sharks, Newsome and Durant advanced from the District 3A, Class 13 tournament at Summerfield.
Newsome placed all five golfers in the top nine to easily win the team title at 8-over 292. Wolves junior Tyler Bakich held off Davis and teammate John Michael Coultas for medalist honors, sinking midrange putts on the final two holes to finish 2-under 69.
Coultas was last year’s district champ by a shot over Bakich and Tuesday tied for second with Davis at even par.
“I made zero putts today until those last two,” Bakich said.
He was tied with Coultas at 1 under before getting in trouble on his approach to 17 then drilled a 15-footer on the fringe to save par. Coultas was in the next group and bogeyed.
Then Davis had his shot. On the 530-yard 18th he had a makeable chip for eagle right after watching Bakich push his third shot 15 feet past. However, Davis settled for par and Bakich drained his birdie for the two-shot margin.
“Terrible chip, but I played well today,” said Davis.
Had he birdied Davis would have set a school record for nine holes (32).
Riverview finished 17 shots behind Newsome with Durant another 33 back. The top three teams and top three individuals not on those teams — Plant City’s William George, Brandon’s Quinn Duffy and Bloomingdale’s H.J. Fitchett — advance to the Region 5 tournament next week in Venice.
Lakewood Ranch, which edged Newsome by four for the 2012 state title and has beaten the Wolves twice in tournament play this year, is in the region.
“We’re tired of congratulating them,” Wolves coach Jim Govreau said.
Riverview’s Darius Sanders (72) finished fourth and Newsome’s Kyle West carved out 73 after triple bogey had him 7 over. West had a rip in his contact lens and after getting a replacement went on a stretch of four birdies in six holes. Andrew Wally and Mark Nauert were the other top-five Wolves.
Chase Levesque (77, sixth) was the top Durant scorer with teammate Jacob Penny, who chipped in on 13, a shot behind.
Durant’s ability to hold off Plant City — the Raiders pulled to within one late after trailing Durant by double digits — kept Fitchett in the region field.
2A-17: AHN's Martin ready for next challenge
SUN CITY CENTER — For the third straight year, Academy of the Holy Names’ Emmy Martin took the top spot at the Class 2A, District 17 tournament.
Those titles are nice. But there’s another on which she has her eye.
“I’m looking to win the state tournament this year,” said Martin, who posted 2-under 70 at Sandpiper Golf Club on Tuesday, five fewer strokes than second-place finisher Caroline Gilhool of Robinson.
Martin powered AHN to a team win, and the Jaguars finished with 309, 120 strokes better than second-place Robinson. Armwood finished third with 463. In addition to those three teams, Lennard’s Morgan Beachum (106), Jefferson’s Teresa Shreve (119) and Spoto’s Karra Luanglath (144) move on to Monday’s regionals.
Holy Names coach Chris Kumka thought his team had a good day on the course; four of AHN’s five golfers finished in the top five individually.
Kumka saw a performance he expected from his star golfer, who finished with four birdies, three on the back nine. Martin is used to putting up eye-catching scores, he said, and her state title hopes are well within reach.
To take the top spot, however, Martin knows she needs to perfect her putting. She was pleased with her short game Tuesday, but it could be better.
“If there’s one thing she needs to continue to work on it’s basically from 100 yards in,” Kumka said. “She just feels like she’s not hitting it as close and not giving herself as many opportunities. If she does that, if she makes enough putts and hits enough fairways and gives herself some more chances, she’ll be fine.”
On the boys side, Robinson won with 323. Jefferson came in second (430), beating Lennard by one stroke. Robinson freshman Karam Paul posted 2-over 74, the low score for the boys, while teammate Andrew Skora (79) was second. Armwood’s Evin Jenkins (88) and Spoto’s Sam Beutler (98) and Chase Cwik (104) also advanced.
A-15: Dominating win for TC
At Westchase Golf Club, Tampa Catholic swept the top five spots to finish with 307.
Junior Nilo Sanchez earned the district championship by shooting 75, followed by teammates Anthony Pascua (76) and Lucas Mylet (77).
TC’s Joseph Testerman and Ryan Williams finished at 79.
Max Lerner’s 90 fueled Tampa Prep to a second-place showing.
Tampa Catholic junior Kayla Poff won the girls title with 74. That’s five strokes ahead of her teammate, runnerup Lindsey Gonzalez.
Lillian Berry (82) and Morgan Peterson (85) had strong showings to lead Tampa Prep to the team title with 348.
A-13: Cambridge girls win playoff
At Saddlebrook, Cambridge Christian’s girls won a one-hole playoff to edge Berkeley Prep for the team championship after both teams finished at 389.
Ashley Zagers earned the individual title with a day-low 74, two ahead of teammate Alison Armstrong. Junior Elaine Donigan’s 86 was the low score for the Buccaneers.
Carrollwood Day’s Claudia Rami (83) and Bishop McLaughlin’s Brooke Dalton (89) move on as individuals.
Saddlebrook Prep dominated the boys tournament with 279 — 58 shots better than Berkeley Prep. Saddlebrook’s Ryoto Furuya (67), Won Jun Lee (67) and Joe He (69) had the day’s top rounds.
James Donigan (78) and Michael Hoff (82) led the Bucs, who finished five shots better than Calvary Christian.
Individuals advancing were Cambridge Christian’s Matthew Liffrig (83) and CDS’ Nick Nugebauer (83) and Isaac Dieter (86).
Staff writer Kelly Parsons and correspondent Darek Sharp contributed to this report.