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Zephyrhills' O'Neil to get a French lesson in golf

North Suncoast residents won't find the names Seilh, Palmola and Vieille-Toulouse on any road maps of Florida. But Zephyrhills High sophomore Erin O'Neil and Wildwood High senior Jon Wallace will be familiar with all three by the end of this week. They are the names of golf courses the two will play Thursday through Saturday during the sixth annual Chipie Junior Golf Challenge at Toulouse, France.

"I haven't heard much (about the French courses) at all so I don't know what to expect," O'Neil said last week. "My game is pretty good right now. I had a lesson from my teacher, Bill Skelley, before qualifying at Miami. I also went down and had him take another look at me after that."

Skelley found a flaw in O'Neil's backswing and corrected it, she said.

O'Neil, who plays out of Sundance, and Wallace flew from Miami to Paris on Sunday night and were scheduled for two days of sightseeing before a practice round Wednesday. They earned their expenses-paid trips to the prestigious tournament, which came to the United States for the first time this year, by winning national qualifiers Sept. 22 at Miami's Doral Resort and Country Club.

"I think Erin will do well in France," Sundance head pro Bill Rinaldo said. "She's probably one of the strongest players in the country. The girl is adaptable and has a competitive spirit that won't quit. I don't think the course makes any difference whatsoever to her."

New faces in Pasco: New head professionals recently were named at two courses in Pasco County.

Pat Eggeling, 35, has replaced Mike Moore as head pro at Quail Hollow.

Mark Thomas, 40, has moved up from assistant to head pro at Ironwood, where he replaces Rick Bell.

"We have new owners and we're trying to bring the course back to where it used to be," Eggeling said. "Quail Hollow was one of the best-conditioned courses in the Tampa area when it was built in 1964, and we want to restore it and build up new membership.

"One of my big things is that we're working on making this a top-ranked teaching facility and learning center. We have 23 acres to work with and are in the midst of designing the best teaching center in the area."

Eggeling played for the USF golf team from 1976-78, and graduated with a degree in public relations. He was an assistant at Quail Hollow from 1979-80 and head pro in 1987.

During the last two years, Eggeling was a teaching pro at The Seawane Club in Hewlett Harbor on Long Island.

Thomas was head pro at Ironwood for six months in 1989 before Bell was hired. Bell was head pro for the past year, and left the position to get into golf course maintenance and teaching.

"My experience under Rick (Bell) was invaluable," Thomas said. "He was a super teacher and I learned a lot from him."

Thomas said he plans to run more member-oriented events and expand the scrambles at Ironwood. A scramble each Sunday currently attracts an average of 52 golfers per week.

Plans also are underway for a Night Light tournament the second week of November, although details haven't yet been worked out, Thomas said.

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