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4 youths prove they can Pitch, Putt and Drive

The Timber Oaks foursome advances to regional competition in the event patterned after the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick.

Jeremy Graham used his driver, Matt Faust his wedge, and Steven Postiglione his putter to win their respective age divisions in the first-ever Pitch, Putt and Drive contest at Timber Oaks Golf Club two weeks ago.

Fred Mielke also advanced, giving Timber Oaks four players in the regional, the next level of the contest that is patterned after football's Punt, Pass and Kick competition.

Timber Oaks owner Suzanne Pace said she talked to representatives from the Pitch, Putt and Drive contest and that they were putting together the regional contest but had no idea where it would be played. "But they're pretty sure it'll be in September," she added.

Mielke won the 10-and-under division with 910 points. Graham captured the 11-12 age group with 1,928 points, thanks to some solid putting and straight driving.

Graham, 11, made 2- and 10-foot putts for points, and picked up 728 from his drive, which was 147 yards. But the key to driving is accuracy, and the competition rewards the straighter drives. Graham's drive was only 7 yards off center.

Postiglione, 13, struggled with his chipping and driving, but sank a miraculous 40-foot putt to pick up 1,000 of his 2,345 points to win the 13-15 age group. He also made a 2-footer for another 500 points of his total.

Faust scored 2,927 points to win the 16-17 age group, sinking two putts (2 and 10 feet) and scoring a majority of his points with accurate pitching.

Pace said 23 kids competed in the Pitch, Putt and Drive contest.

"I figured there'd be about 15, so I was ecstatic," she said. "And we had 40 to 50 moms and dads and aunts and uncles there too."

ZEPHYRHILLS: The eighth annual Zephyrhills Open is scheduled for Aug. 20-22 at Silver Oaks Golf and Country Club, and head pro Keith Nicoletta is hoping for a field that could top 100.

Already, 66 players have entered the tournament, one of the biggest amateur events in the area and easily the biggest in Pasco County. "It's pretty well-known to all the amateurs," Nicoletta said.

He added that he usually gets a flood of entries around the 14th or 15th. Those already signed up include Atsushi Kozaki, the defending champion, and Pipp Patton, whom Koazki beat in a playoff last year, as well as noted local amateur Wyatt Myer.

Anyone interested, and with the required under-18 handicap, can enter by calling Nicoletta at (813) 788-1225.

NEAR MISS: Speaking of Kozaki, the former USF standout and Zephyrhills resident just missed qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship last week at Westin Innisbrook's Island Course. So did another Pasco County player, Wesley Chapel's Brian Swope, who plays collegiately for North Carolina State. Both fell in a playoff.

Kozaki and Swope tied with Matt Saglio and Kevin Warrick after two rounds and had to go to a playoff to determine the final golfer for the U.S. Amateur to be held at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California. Matt Raitz and Bubba Dickerson qualified in regulation.

But on the first playoff hole, the Pasco duo bowed out with bogeys and Saglio went on to advance with a birdie on the next hole.

U-S-A: Mike Hudson, who recently moved to Seven Springs, will compete for the United States Friday in the National Amputee Golf Association International Challenge at Chase Lake Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.

Hudson is one of 16 U.S. players from the NAGA who will take on 16 international players in Ryder-type match play. Each winner gets his team one point, draws are a half-point, and 12.5 total points wins the match. The winners' names are engraved on the David L. Robinson Cup.

Hudson will be competing in the Below the Elbow category along with John Novack of Circleville, Ohio.

ACE: Leftover from the hole-in-one tally was an ace by Danny Jacobs at Timber Oaks on July 9. Playing with Harold MacGregor and Rod and Tammy Weaver, Jacobs aced the 175-yard No. 9 with his 5-wood.