Here’s a warning for high school golfers in Pinellas County hoping to win tournaments this season: Better bring your “A-plus” game.
In a county known for producing quality junior golfers, the 2012 season appears especially loaded with good players. A quick check of area rosters shows at least 15 golfers spread throughout the area who can shoot par or better. And that’s not including freshmen or newcomers.
“There’s a lot of balance out there,’’ Clearwater Central Catholic coach Tony Pasquine said.
Pasquine should know. He is in his sixth season at CCC and has one of the best teams around. That includes last year’s Tampa Bay Times’ Player of the Year, senior Ryan Orr.
Orr, who has committed to the University of Florida, had a productive summer. He won the Florida Junior Tour Innisbrook tournament in May, qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur and tied for third at the Boys Junior Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
“He played in the Sam Parks Invitational tournament (at Belleair CC) last weekend and shot 1 under and lost by a shot,’’ Pasquine said.
“I was telling his dad at the tournament, he shoots 1 under and we’re not happy about it. The bar has been raised for Ryan.’’
Orr is the player to shoot for this season, but several golfers aren’t far behind. St. Petersburg senior Jack Maguire, a Florida State commit, played in the high school state tournament last season and also had a successful summer on the junior circuit.
Senior Kyle Kubala won a district championship last season and participated in the First Tee Championship on the Champions Tour this summer. In fact, he carded an ace during one round. And then there’s sophomore Kyle Shealy at Canterbury, senior Ben Murray at
Calvary Christian, junior Donald Wasoff at Countryside, junior Anthony Quintessenza at Northside Christian and senior Parker Fox at East Lake.
There are sure to be others.
“There are a bunch of good players out there,’’ East Lake coach Terry O’Reilly said.
That talent will be on display Sept. 1 at the East Lake Invitational at East Lake Woodlands Country Club. The tournament includes 15 teams from Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties, as well as Sebring and Winter Garden West Orange high schools.
CCC will bring its loaded roster of players. Aside from Orr, there is senior Connor O’Shaughnessy, junior Clayton Spillman, a St. Petersburg Catholic transfer, and sophomore Andrew Heric, a Shorecrest transfer who finished second at the district tournament last year.
“We’ll find out real quick where we stand,’’ Pasquine said. “This is without a doubt a very talented group of players.’’
Then there’s Calvary Christian, which could have the best 1-2-3 combination in the area. Murray should play at No. 1. Senior Harrison McClimans, who can go under par, should be No. 2. And senior East Lake transfer Zach Wood will likely play at No. 3.
“Any of those guys could be in the running for player of the year,’’ Calvary coach Jim Fuller said. “I don’t really have to worry about them shooting a high number. They’re going to be pretty consistent.’’
St. Petersburg will bring not only Maguire, but sophomore Blake Dyer and senior Jake Kevorkian. The Green Devils were tied for seventh at last year’s Class 2A state tournament. And East Lake has seven seniors returning, including Fox.
Postseason tournaments are still a few months away, but the East Lake Invitational will be a good indication of which teams, and individuals, bear watching this season.
“I put a lot of stock in these invitational tournaments,’’ O’Reilly said. “It’s 18 holes so you can have a bad hole or two and still come back. And that’s what the postseason tournaments are.’’
East Lake Invitational
When/where: 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1 at East Lake Woodlands Country Club
Format: Shotgun start, six players per team, top four scores count.
Teams: East Lake, Calvary Christian, Clearwater Central Catholic, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Northside Christian, Seminole, Osceola, Mitchell, Jesuit, King, Berkeley Prep, Tampa Catholic, Sebring, West Orange
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org