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Saxon battles well vs. young phenom

When an amateur shoots rounds of 71-73 for even-par 144 from the gold tees on a blustery weekend and comes in second in a tournament, he has few regrets.

That's basically the attitude of Frank Saxon of Clearwater, who challenged for the title of the Tampa Bay Amateur Championship at Bloomingdale Golfers Club on April 18 and 19.

Saxon, 48, led after the first round and was paired with Akio Sadakata, 18, a senior phenom at Chamberlain High, for Sunday's final round on the 7,150-yard layout. Sadakata was a stroke back.

Saxon got behind immediately with a double bogey on the first hole and a bogey on the second. He rallied with birdies on 15, 16 and 17, then left his attempt for a fourth birdie on 18 hanging on the lip. But the damage was done. Sadakata's 3-under 69 was good for a three-shot victory.

"I played real well under the conditions," said Saxon, who played high school golf for Plant and collegiately at Georgia Southern. "My putting, which has been going real well in recent months, kept me in it.

"But it isn't every day you get to play with a relaxed player (Sadakata) who has no weaknesses in his swing. It's obvious he's been well-schooled. The longer we played it was obvious he wasn't going to crack; he never had to deal with adversity. He's a cool customer."

Sadakata won a $500 gift certificate and Saxon got one of $400.

Saxon has won an unprecedented three consecutive County Golf Association championships and is looking forward to defending his title next October. But in the meantime, the electronics salesman is playing in a few fun tournaments, such as Sunday's Nick Cavallaro Invitational scramble at Belleview Biltmore. Teamed with Jerry Reynolds, Tom Longenecker and Bob Felton, Saxon's team won with a blistering score of 17 under par.

Saxon plays to a 1 handicap with the USGA and scratch with the County Golf Association.

WEST COAST WOMEN: Sharon Baerenklau of Countryside weathered the second-day pressure of the 20th annual WCWGA championship at Hunter's Green after her opening round of 73. She shot 74 Tuesday for a 147 total and four-stroke margin over Sandy Jones of Tampa Palms and defending champion Terrell Italiano of Palma Ceia.

PARC CLASSIC: At Saturday's tournament at Bardmoor and the Bayou Club to benefit the Pinellas Association for Retarded Children, Avila members Dr. Dennis Tencza and the Adcocks _ Johnny and sons Brian and David _ shot a 16-under 56 at the Bayou Club for first place in a scramble. They eagled two par-5s. On the Bardmoor course, Bayou members Barry Weinstock, Greg Sembler and Steve Warren teamed with Chris Maxon to win the morning round with a 63. In the first flight of the afternoon round at Bardmoor, a 60 won for Joe McGuire, Mike MacDonald, Eric Swender and Mike Pingalore.

CLUB CHAMPION: At Lakewood Country Club, Jeanne Swanson shot 77-80-80_237 to win the 1998 women's championship over runner-up Sue Riggins (250).

COLLEGE GOLF: Scott Crider, a Times all-Pinellas first-team selection now at Austin Peay University, tied for 13th at the recent Ohio Valley Conference tournament with rounds of 75-70-73.

Chris Covert, a Countryside grad at Furman, finished 28th at the Southern Conference tournament with rounds of 72-77-81 for the third-place Paladins.

Ryuji Imada (Chamberlain) finished third (72-72) for the Georgia Bulldogs as they won the SEC men's championship at Athens, Ga., April 18-19.

Mark Monroe (Clearwater High), a sophomore at Talladega College, will defend his National Minority Division II medalist title at The Reserve in Port St. Lucie May 1-3.