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New tour seeks to lure pros with a $500 deal

The Magees already operate the highly successful Moonlight Professional Golf Tour. Their newest venture will have its inaugural event on the Pine Barrens course at World Woods Oct. 15-16, and they hope to have a "major" tournament monthly come 1998.

"Moonlight serves the developing player and is growing nicely," Frank Magee said. "We had over 3,350 rounds played last year, and with over 1,800 rounds completed in the first quarter this year are on target for over 6,000 rounds in 1996.

"NEXT will bring real major league professional golf to Florida on a consistent basis, with qualifying sites around the country feeding Florida with talent for large-purse competition. The format is similar to the USGA's Senior Open qualifying scheme with single-stage format."

Qualified golfers will be paid $500 in advance to come to Florida, where NEXT purses will be guaranteed to be $840 times the number of players. Players not living close to qualifying sites, once the 20-30 sites are announced, can contact the Magees at (813) 392-5175 and a site will be arranged that is convenient. One in seven golfers will qualify under the format.

The qualifying entry fee is $300, which is comparable to other major tours, Magee said. Golfers may attempt to qualify as many times as they wish for the "majors." Orlando, Tampa and Miami likely will be qualifying sites in the state.

"We're cautiously optimistic that the concept will be tremendously successful simply because there's such a strong need out there," Magee said.

"Like anything new, it will take a year or two to grow and should reach full maturation in three years. For 120 players, we're talking about a $100,000 purse with $20,000 for first place and each qualifier getting that $500 in advance. No other tour does that."

While some amateurs may compete to gain the experience, Magee stressed that NEXT is for the pro. He added that Inverness' Brian Brown will serve as tour administrator for the local section. Brown's number is (352) 637-3370.

THREE WIN JUNIOR TITLES: Three players from Citrus County won their divisions Saturday in a North Suncoast Junior Golf Association tournament at Pine Ridge Country Club.

Beverly Hills' Brad Bartle topped the boys 16-18 tournament bracket with a 73 while Inverness' Brittany Johnson won the girls 15-16 tournament with a 90. Crystal River's Brian Soluri won the boys 13-18 intermediate with a nine-hole score of 46.

Other high finishers qualifying for the Tournament of Champions in mid-August were: Inverness' Sean Milliord, second on a match of cards with 84 in boys 14-15 tournament; Hernando's Melissa Bush, third at 103 in girls 17-18 tournament; Floral City's Ronni Thomas, third with 99 in girls 15-16 tournament; Inverness' Nick VanDyke, third at 51 for nine holes in boys 10-11 tournament; Inverness' Scotty Johnson, second with 53 for nine holes in boys 10-12 intermediate; Hernando's Mike Holland, third at 53 for nine holes in boys 13-18 intermediate; and Citrus Springs' Laurie Bixler, second with 84 for nine holes in girls 10-12 intermediate.

Southern Woods will play host to the next NSJGA event Saturday.

Juniors also are reminded of the Marion Walker Scholarship Tournament Aug. 3 at Inverness Golf and Country Club, starting at 10:30 a.m. It's a parent-child event with a $25-per-entrant fee that includes a barbecue.

PLANTATION TAKES LEAD: A team from Plantation Inn Golf Resort in Crystal River took over first place Monday in the Suncoast Men's Travel League by shooting a 355 score on its home course. Glen Lakes finished second at 357, with Spring Hill and Citrus Hills tied for third at 358.

Other scores included LakeSide 359, Twisted Oaks 361, Pine Ridge 367, Sugarmill Woods 369, Seville 370 and Rivard 378.

Plantation now has 19 points for the second half of the season, followed by Spring Hill at 17.5. Rounding out the standings are Citrus Hills 14.5, Glen Lakes 14, Twisted Oaks 10, Sugarmill Woods 9, LakeSide and Pine Ridge 8, Rivard 4 and Seville 3.

Glen Lakes is the site for the next match next Monday at 8:30 a.m.

PLANTATION NOTES: Plantation Inn is offering players a chance to qualify the remainder of the month for Dave Pelz's Compaq World Putting Championship.

Entrants in seniors (over-60), open, women's or junior divisions can qualify as often as they wish so long as they play with another qualifier. The first-time entry fee in the event, co-sponsored by Titleist and Footjoy, is $15, with retries $3 each.

The top 20 qualifiers will compete in the Plantation Club Championship to be held by Aug. 11. Someone from that tournament will advance to a state event, according to Plantation assistant pro Mike Clary.

Head pro Jim Brennan reports he'll play 100 holes at the club Aug. 20 in support of National Golf Day. Pledges will be secured for each hole, with part of the proceeds going to a local high school golf program and the remainder to PGA National.

"We'll take donations of 25 cents, $1 or whatever supporters can afford," Brennan said. "We hope to raise $1,000."

Call 795-7211 for more information.

OCALANS WIN FOUR-BALL: Randy Briggs and Daniel Owen of Ocala shot 59-68 for a 127 score and a seven-stroke victory over the weekend in the Florida State Golf Association Four-Ball Championship at World Woods.

The lone North Suncoast team to finish in the top 20 was Crystal River's Bob Bleakley and Tim Kuntz. They tied for 19th at 138 with rounds of 71-67.