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Success costs winning golfer her handicap

Sometimes you have to pay a price for success.

It happened to Mary Critchfield of Tierra Verde after winning the annual Bevelle Crane Invitational two weeks ago at Lakewood Country Club. She went into the tournament with a 13 handicap, while 19 contestants entered with handicaps in the 2-12 range.

But after shooting steady rounds of 75 and 78 for a three-stroke margin over runner-up Terrell Italiano of Palma Ceia, she came away with not only the winner's trophy but also a lower handicap.

Based on her scores in the tournament and other West Coast Women's Golf Association matches during the past month, Critchfield's handicap dropped to 10.

Critchfield had reason to be concerned after taking the opening round lead with her 4-over 76. Not only was last year's runner-up, Italiano, just behind her, but there also was Carolyn Smith of Toronto, and co-favorites Sharon Gonsavles (2 handicap) of Palma Ceia and Sharon Baerenklau (4) of Countryside.

"My strategy the second day was to stay in the game," said Critchfield, the women's club champion at the Bayou and the Vinoy. "I just wanted to stay on track. It was wonderful to win on this course, one of my favorites."

Critchfield lost her tenuous lead to Italiano on the par-3 15th with a bogey from the fringe. But she got it back on the par-5 16th by sinking a breaking 20-foot birdie putt while her opponent was taking a 7 after hitting out-of-bounds. Italiano finished with an 80 for a three-stroke margin.

On March 13, Critchfield had a hole-in-one at the Bayou Club and on the 18th won the club's match-play title 5 & 4 over Dana Permuy.

MEN'S INTERCLUB: Lansbrook won Thursday's Pinellas Interclub match with a 19-stroke win at Wentworth. Partners George Sanchez and Bob Whittaker who shot a net better-ball 55, led the 10-member team. Dave Miller of Belleview Mido was low pro (72), followed by Wentworth's Royce Warren (76).

CLUB CHAMPION: Spencer Gaylord captured his second 1997 club championship at Lakewood Country Club on March 16 when he defeated Lakewood High basketball star P. J. Penrose in the 36-hole match-play final. In February, Gaylord won the club's senior championship.

SENIOR SUCCESS: Henry Goebel of Palm Harbor won four matches in the annual Blue Jay Estates before last month's finals, where he lost 2 & 1 to Jack Hughes in match play at Countryway Executive. Goebel, who is 85, shot a 74 on the par-61 course. Later last month, he scored his third career hole-in-one with a perfect shot on the 130-yard No. 2 hole with a 6-iron at that club.

Bill Sorton of Clearwater was the main man at his 95th birthday party at Pinecrest Golf Club on March 9. Club manager Al Demitri and many of Sorton's friends quietly slipped a new Titanium 5-wood into his bag for the occasion. Not realizing how the club got there, Sorton returned it to the pro shop thinking it was someone's lost club. He takes two buses and walks about a half-mile to the course two or three times weekly and returns home the same way.

SHORT PUTTS: Dan Stone of St. Petersburg shot a 1-under 143 missing the 36-hole cut at the Nike Tour Monterrey Open two-weeks ago. . . . Dick Mast, a former PGA Tour pro who graduated from Lakewood High, is ranked second in points by the National Mini Tour Association. . . . Kacey Smith (Largo High) led the Florida Atlantic women's team to a 10th-place finish at the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational March 10-11 at Winter Park. She had rounds of 82, 79 and 75. . . . Alice Miller set an LPGA record at this month's Welch's/Circle K Championship in Tucson, Ariz., playing her final round in 1 hour, 26 minutes and 44 seconds. She teed off first, played alone and shot 1-under 71.

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