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Cougars hold up in 6A-9

Countryside shot a team total of 310 at Cypress Run Golf Club to beat runner-up Seminole by five strokes in the Class 6A, District 9 tournament to advance to next week's state championship at Bent Tree Country Club in Sarasota.

Wink Amerman of Seminole will go after his second individual title. The state 6A champion in 1996 as a sophomore, Amerman was forced into a playoff for medalist honors after shooting 2-over 74 from the blue tees at 6,599 yards.

The other two players with 74s in the playoff were Brandon Takacs and Nick Bellamy of Countryside. Amerman parred the 363-yard first hole by hitting the green in two and two-putting while Takacs and Bellamy bogeyed.

Bellamy not only chipped in from the fringe for his five, he had the hot putter during his 18-hole round, needing only nine putts on the front nine. He came in with a 40.1 nine-hole average, so his 74 played a major role in the Cougars' return to state.

"Bellamy is a talented freshman," said coach Greg Bryant of Countryside, who has guided the Cougars to three consecutive conference titles. "But to come here under pressure and shoot 74 is impressive. His contribution was critical to our win today."

None of the Countryside players had played on the Cypress Run course, but that didn't seem to bother them. The team will return to Bent Tree for state, but captain Drew Bleakley is the only team member who played there last year. He shot 83. Junior Gregg Pette earned sixth with 79 to go with the two 74 scores for the team's winning 310 total.

Seminole played well despite playing without two team members. Lavana Davis and Natalie Smith were scheduled to play in the girls district tournament.

Amerman, headed to Louisiana State on a scholarship, birdied Nos. 4 and 8 to go with a bogey on the front side to go out in 1-under, but finished with bogeys on 15, 17 and 18 for his 74.

"I knew coming into this I was playing well because I had a 67 Saturday (in) winning the club championship at Pasadena," Amerman said. "I came here with confidence; there was no pressure on me. My goal coming into this season was to get back to state and I've done it."

Class 4A, District 9

PASADENA _ Shorecrest sophomore Brooke Smith shot 87 at Pasadena Yacht and Country Club to take top honors. Smith, whose sister Shane was a standout for the Chargers last year, led her team to the district championship and a berth in next week's state tournament. Smith also shot 87 to take second at districts last year.

Shorecrest shot a team total 443, while Palm Harbor University, the only other team in the district, shot 538.

Smith's teammate, Jessica Hallgren, took second at 106. Hallgren shot 48 on the front nine before carding 58 on the back. Kristin McLain was third with a 112. Won Ok Han, Admiral Farragut's only entry, was fourth at 113.

Palm Harbor University was led by Dana Johnson, who shot 115. Andrea Zantop was the Hurricanes' next best at 137.

Smith shot 45 on the front nine, but was able to shave off three strokes on Pasadena's difficult back nine. _ RODNEY PAGE