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Gleason, Saglio to battle nation's amateur elite

At least two local golf standouts will be heading to national championship tournaments this week and next.

Jenny Gleason, a June graduate of Clearwater High, has qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, N.C.

Admiral Farragut grad Matt Saglio qualified for men's U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach in a four-way playoff for the third and final spot at the Westin Innisbrook's Island course last week.

Gleason, 18, who will play for North Carolina-Greensboro, this fall, had considerably less trouble advancing to the "Big Dance" by tying for first with a par-72 at the Country Club of Ocala on July 22. Besides entry into the championship, Gleason was presented with a U.S. Golf Association silver medal as the co-medalist.

In her winning round, Gleason posted three birdies and a bogey on the front nine and three bogeys and a birdie on the back nine.

"I was very pleased with my round, especially my short game," said Gleason, the Times Pinellas player of the year. "My putting really kept me in it, as did my iron play.

"I've accomplished a lot just getting there, so I'm going there just to have fun. I can't be disappointed no matter what happens, although I'm certainly going to try hard to make the cut. Lately I've been working with my instructor, Vincent Reid at Chi Chi's, on hitting downhill and sidehill lies."

Medal play Monday and Tuesday will determine the top 64 for match play starting Wednesday.

Saglio earned a return trip to the U.S. Amateur by making testy putts on the second and third playoff holes, the Island course's Nos. 8 and 9. Last year he not only qualified for match play but won his opening match before losing to defending titleist Matt Kuchar of Georgia Tech.

"I feel good about going to Pebble Beach," said Saglio, a member at the Bayou Club. "I'm more mature now and and don't get easily rattled. Also, my course management skills are much better."

MORE U.S. AMATEUR: Three other Pinellas golfers are in the hunt for a qualifying spot at Pebble Beach. Dustin Atkatz of St. Petersburg, Kyle McCarthy of South Pasadena, and Brendan Takacs of Clearwater will try to qualify at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando.

TAP-INS: Terrell Italiano of Palma Ceia and the West Coast Women's Golf Association, arguably the top woman amateur in the state as winner of the 1999 state amateur, won't be competing with Gleason at the national championship due to a hand injury. She has played just one round since she won the state title at Lecanto in May. Pat Kaylor of Countryside Country Club shot rounds of 81-83 at last month's Senior British Open to miss the cut. Lanier Waters has resigned as assistant pro at Mangrove Bay to join the mini tour in South Florida, playing out of Fort Lauderdale.

FUTURES TOUR: St. Petersburg's Marilyn Lovander shot a course-record 66 en route to her second Futures Tour victory of the year in the Fleet Loretto Classic at The Links at Erie Village, Syracuse, N.Y. The $6,600 win increased her season-leading total to $30,183. Lovander, 44, followed her 66 with rounds of 69-72 for a 207 total, one stroke better than Dodie Mazzuca of Santa Cruz, Calif.

CLUB NEWS: Mangrove Bay and the Renaissance Vinoy are listed among the best 100 courses for women in the August issue of Golf for Women magazine.

Based on nominations from players and evaluations from the magazine's staff, the St. Petersburg courses were found to be most women-friendly from the standpoint of tee-box options, pro shop selections, the number of women teaching pros, women's programs, and other factors. With 46,894 rounds played at Mangrove Bay during the first six months of the year, golf director Jeff Hollis estimates that the year-end total will be in the 86,000 to 90,000 range. The Westin Innisbrook Resort is renovating and expanding its Copperhead course from 7,087 yards to 7,200. It will reopen on Sept. 12.