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For PHU senior, one more thing to do

Palm Harbor U.’s Zach Sobel, who stayed busy this summer playing junior events, is still trying to add an individual state title to his resume.

Special to the Times

Palm Harbor U.’s Zach Sobel, who stayed busy this summer playing junior events, is still trying to add an individual state title to his resume.

After three years of playing at the high school level, Zach Sobel has developed a potent mix of overpowering golf, increased discipline and hard-earned experience.

The Palm Harbor University senior doesn't just win tournaments and American Junior Golf Association events, he dominates them.

But even after accumulating a room full of trophies and already committing to play golf for Ohio State University next fall, there is something left for the two-time Pinellas County golfer of the year to accomplish.

Sobel still is trying to win an individual state title.

"It's a tough pill to swallow," Sobel said of coming up short at past state tournaments.

In 2005, Sobel, then a freshman, was third at state, the highest finish of his career. He was seventh in 2006 and failed to advance to the state meet last season.

"The biggest thing I'm trying to do is apply myself and my life to golf and to the school," Sobel said. "All I can do is work hard and prepare and the results will come."

Sobel started preparing this summer. In June, he shot 15-under 201 (68-62-71) to win the AJGA's Heritage Classic in Bluffton, S.C., by four strokes. Sobel shot a course-record 62 in one round, and his 201 total tied the AJGA 54-hole record. The field consisted of 59 top juniors from the South and Eastern states.

Sobel also finished in the top five in two other events.

"I was able to play at a really high level this summer, and I want to carry that into the high school season," Sobel said. "The purpose of playing in so many AJGA events was to get noticed by colleges and put me on track for my future.

"But (the AJGA meets) definitely helped prepare for the high school season. It gave me a lot of confidence. Now, I basically have to work harder than everyone and the results will come."

Boys

Top players

David Dresselhaus, Jr., Northside Chr.: Advanced to regions and nearly qualified for state.

Justin Foster, Sr., Dunedin: Led the Falcons to a district title.

Taylor Hancock, Jr., Calvary Chr.: Shot 68 at districts last year.

Devin Hernandez, Sr., SPC: Led the Barons to their first region title.

Travis Huston, So., Dunedin: The son of professional golfer John Huston gives the Falcons an added boost.

Alec Konstantin, Jr., Tarpon Springs: Kept the Spongers in the conference mix.

Lee McCoy, Calvary Chr., Fr.: Finished fifth at last month's U.S. Kid's World Golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C.

Terry O'Reilly, Sr., East Lake: Second-team all-county last year.

Zach Sobel, PHU, Sr.: Dominant on the AJGA circuit. Last summer, he came close to qualifying for the U.S. Open.

Aaron Watson, So., Calvary Chr.: Won Green Devil Invitational last year.

Kolin Woodbury, Jr., Indian Rocks Chr.: Always a title contender.

Girls

With the season days away, there is one question overriding others: Where did everybody go?

Last year's senior class was among the best ever with many signing Division I scholarships, including Seminole's Meghan Chapman (N.C. State), Largo's Andrea Messer (Vanderbilt), Largo's Evan Jensen (Florida), PHU's Brie Heinzler (Furman), Northside Christian's Morgan Jackson (Jacksonville) and East Lake's Whitney Wenglasz (FSU).

Now they're gone.

So is Dakoda Dowd. The teen phenom has decided not to play high school golf this season.

With so many changes, the status of girls golf seems unclear. Coaches are scratching their heads, trying to find replacements. Many are trying to find enough girls to field a team.

Welcome to girls golf 2008, a topsy-turvy season in which anything seems possible.

The one constant is Northside Christian. The Mustangs, who were third at state last season, return top players A.J. Newell and Michelle Butler, below.

"We're having to travel a lot to find teams to play," Northside coach D.J. Jackson said.

Other strong players returning include Indian Rocks Christian's Ryan Ashburn and Dunedin's Justine Knox.

District breakdowns

Class 2A, District 12: Clearwater, Countryside, Dunedin, East Lake, Gulf, Hudson, Mitchell, Palm Harbor University, Ridgewood, River Ridge, Tarpon Springs

Class 2A, District 13: Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs, Lakewood, Largo, Northeast, Osceola, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Seminole

Class A, District 14: Berkeley Prep, Cambridge, Citrus Park Christian, Jesuit, Newsome, Oldsmar Christian, Robinson, Seffner Christian, Tampa Catholic, Tampa Prep

Class A, District 15: Admiral Farragut, Calvary Christian, Canterbury, Clearwater Central Catholic, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Lakeside Christian, Northside Christian, Pinellas Christian Homeschool, St. Petersburg Catholic, Shorecrest

For the fans

Admission: Regular-season invitationals and postseason tournaments are free.

Regular season: Schools can compete in a maximum of 14 meets from Monday to Oct. 11.

Postseason: District tournaments are Oct. 13-14, region tournaments Oct. 20-21 and state tournaments Oct. 28-29 in Lakeland, Davenport and Haines City.

Classifications: Schools are divided by enrollment into two, ranging from the largest (Class 2A) to the smallest (Class A).

For PHU senior, one more thing to do 08/22/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 6:20pm]
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