As Seminole's Wink Amerman strolled up the 18th fairway at Cypress Run Country Club last week, he knew exactly what was at stake. He was tied for the lead with Countryside's Brandon Takacs in the District 9 tournament.
Takacs, his playing partner, was safely on the green. Amerman was in the greenside bunker. He needed to get up and down to force a playoff and keep any chance of a state tournament berth alive.
Amerman blasted his sand shot 20 feet from the hole. Takacs was in with a par and an 18-hole total of 74. Amerman calmly stood over his putt, drained it, then went on to beat Takacs and Countryside's Nick Bellamy, who came in afterward with a 74, on the first playoff hole.
The putt ultimately earned Amerman his second trip to the state tournament, which is this Wednesday and Thursday at Bent Tree Country Club in Sarasota. Takacs and Bellamy will be there with their team, which won the district title.
The putt served as redemption for last year, when Amerman lost on the 18th hole as Sarasota Riverview's Mike Walker made a long putt to win.
"It got a lot of pressure off me," Amerman said. "Last year there was more pressure because I was trying to decide what school to go to. That took a toll. But this year I'm confident in the way I'm playing. It's all in your head."
Actually, Amerman could've made it easier on himself in the district tournament. He bogeyed the last three regulation holes. But there aren't many golfers hotter than Amerman right now.
He won the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship with a 72, followed that with a club championship at Pasadena Country Club two days later, then won the district tournament.
He will being trying to win his second state championship after winning as a sophomore at Sarasota's Misty Creek Country Club.
"Wink's the kind of guy that can make a double bogey, then come back with two or three birdies," Seminole coach Steve Hoff said. "He's a grinder. That's what makes him exciting to watch. He's got the talent to shoot some really low numbers."
Amerman, who will attend Louisiana State next year, has played Bent Tree before.
"The course sets up nice for me," he said. "The fairways are wide and the greens are good. It's not too long, so I can have wedges and 9-irons into the greens. The par-5s are reachable in two.
"But it's going to be tough to win it again. If you can win this tournament, it means you're one of the top golfers around."
For the past four years, Amerman has been one of the top golfers in the area. After winning the state tournament in 1996, he transferred to Bradenton Academy to learn under golf pro David Leadbetter. But he returned to Seminole before the '97 golf season.
"Winning the state tournament was a highlight for me the first time," Amerman said. "To win it as a senior would be the best way to end my high school career."