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Veghte drives well, putts well, finishes well in Amateur

On the 72nd hole of the Florida State Amateur on Sunday, a right-to-left 20-foot putt stood between a third-place tie and fourth place for Clearwater's Jack Veghte.

After deliberating, Veghte (pronounced "VECK-tee") stroked the ball into the bottom of the cup for his fifth birdie of the day, a 68 for the best round of the day, and a 72-hole total of 287.

"I had one of the best tournaments I've had in a long time," said Veghte, a member at Feather Sound. "I drove well, and super on Saturday and Sunday. I only missed one fairway on Sunday. And using a new Fat Lady Swings putter from Bobby Grace (of Palm Harbor), my putting went real well too.

"It's like (Senior Tour pro) Bob Murphy said on television after winning Sunday's senior tournament, you've got to drive well and putt well to score well. You can't be hitting your approach shot from behind a tree or in a trap. You have to avoid trouble."

Veghte, 60, was one of only two seniors (55 and over) in the field. He is exempt from qualifying for the State Amateur as a three-time winner. He's a 1957 graduate of Florida State, where he was a member of the golf team.

The tournament was played at Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota.

"Sara Bay is a great Donald Ross-designed course," Veghte said. "It was built in 1925 and later restored to its original layout. It reads 6,700 yards, but played a lot longer because the course was soft. But we were fortunate to get in all 72 holes. It was raining all around us. The Lord seemed to bless us."

State Amateur notes: Veghte's next major challenge is the Southern Amateur July 19-22 at Holston Hills in Knoxville, Tenn.. He has finished second twice in the prestigious tournament that attracts the best amateurs from the South, including many college stars. Sarasota stock broker Mark Leetzow, 27, won the State Amateur on the seventh playoff hole with a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th. He beat Mike Bodney of Ponte Vedra Beach to break the 72-hole tie of 284, three strokes better than Veghte's total. Mike Barkley of Clearwater was the second Pinellas finisher, 10 strokes behind Veghte.

Mini tour: Last Monday at Bloomingdale, Clearwater's Bob Heintz shot an even-par 72 to win Division I of the Moonlight Professional Golf Tour match. The win was worth $1,000. Ryan Cockman of St. Petersburg, playing as an amateur, finished third in Division II with a 74. Upon review, Jason Hadden's 66 two weeks ago at Silver Oaks was not a course record, reports tournament director Frank Magee. The Moonlight Tour plays the 18th there as a long par-4 rather than a par-5.

19th hole: Carolyn Hill of Gulfport moved up to 96th on the LPGA money list Sunday when she won $5,585 at the LPGA ShopRite Classic at Somers Point, N.J. The top 90 from the official money list retain their exempt status for next year. Hill is the defending champion of the McCall's Classic at Stratton Mountain, Vt., where she won her first LPGA title last August.

Coming up, Part III: The Gulf Beaches Rotary Club will try for the third time to hold its annual Dreaming on a Par tournament July 2 at Bardmoor. It was rained out again this weekend. Call Pam Pettinato at 441-1069 to register.