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Lincicome putts her way to 13th

In last week's Rolex Tournament of Champions, a major on the American Junior Golf Association circuit, Seminole's Brittany Lincicome had a difficult approach shot from a sidehill lie on her final hole _ the 380-yard par-4 ninth on Innisbrook's Copperhead From 150 yards out to a cup she couldn't see, Lincicome used a 7-iron and came up short _ by a mere four inches. She tapped in for the birdie, the second in her last three holes after having birdied the 350-yard No. 7.

Lincicome, 15, who will play for Seminole High School this fall, carded a 76-74-73-75_298 to tie for 13th in a field of 76 nationally-

ranked girls. The competition included 44 of the top 50 juniors in the country.

To play the final 36 holes, Lincicome had to make the cut of 153.

"My putting was the best part of my game (Friday)," said Lincicome, who captured individual district and regional titles last year for Osceola High as a ninth-grader and earned Times first-team All-Suncoast honors.

"I had only 29 putts," she said of the Rolex event. "Usually my strength is off the tee."

Lincicome is just getting over a wrist injury that affected her performance this past spring and early summer.

But she has played well enough in AJGA events this year to earn a 17th-place ranking in theGolfweek/Titleist Index, just ahead of more highly publicized Whitney and Mallory Code of Tampa and No. 20 Lisa Ferrero. The Code sisters are ranked 18th and 19th, respectively.

Ferrero was the Rolex tourney winner.

NOTES: Lincicome takes lessons from PGA pro Tom West at Bardmoor. She is home-schooled by her parents, Angie and Tom.

The highlight of Lincicome's career to date was a call from the AJGA office in Georgia last week telling her she'd been named to the East team for the annual Canon Cup match. It will be played Aug. 6-9 in Asheville, N.C.

Lincicome will be the youngest player on the 10-member team in the Ryder Cup format.

"I'm excited about being selected," Lincicome said. "I know most of the girls on the team. It should be fun."

The Pinellas boys in the Rolex tournament, Jason Overton and Danny Allen, who live in Innisbrook, missed the top-36 player cut.

MORE JUNIORS: Robbie Walters, one of Dunedin High School's top players last season, was a big winner in the recent City Invitational at Dunedin Country Club.

Although he didn't win the tournament _ he shot 3-over 75 for third place _ Walters won a drawing for an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas. He gave the prize to his mother as a Mother's Day gift.

Walters also excels in basketball at Dunedin as a 6-foot-4 starting point guard.

MORE DUNEDIN HIGH GRADS: Amy Benz, who played for the Falcons with PGA Tour pro John Huston in 1979, has left the LPGA Tour after 18 years and $1.5 million in earnings.

Benz has been named director of instruction at the Golf Club of North Hampton, a new facility at Amelia Island, Ga.

"I'm really enjoying it," Benz said. "I'm getting a lot of positive feedback, and I certainly don't miss the travel."

Two of Benz's tournament trips took her to Japan, where she won. Teamed with Huston, she also won the JC Penney Mixed Classic at Bardmoor in 1988.

Benz played at Southern Methodist, winning the collegiate championship her senior year.

She credits her father, Orrin, for having the most influence on her career. He won the First Flight of the recent club championship at Dunedin Country Club.

MINI TOURS: Dan Stone, a St. Petersburg High School graduate and a two-time All-American at Florida, is the second leading money winner of the Golden Bear Tour with $32,940.

It is a Florida-only professional tour under the aegis of living legend Jack Nicklaus. Stone has first-, sixth- and ninth-place finishes on the 15-stop tour this season.

In last month's win at the Waterford Crystal Classic at Summerfield, he shot an opening round of 9-under 63 en route to the top prize, $21,728.

Shane Smith (Shorecrest/Notre Dame), playing on the Futures Tour, plans to participate in an LPGA Q-School qualifier next month with hopes of making it to the finals, Oct. 10-13.

Former Largo resident and UF standout Michele Vinieratos finished in the money in last week's Futures Tour event in Guilderland, N.Y.

Beth Bauer, a former Pinellas Park resident and two-time All-American at Duke, placed second.

She earned $6,000 to remain in first place on the tour's money list. The top three at the end of the season receive 2002 LPGA exempt cards.

Palm Harbor's Joe Williams had seven birdies and no bogeys in his winning round of 7-under 65 in last Wednesday's Tour event at Huntington Hills in Lakeland.

Robert Cronk of Palm Harbor was the runner-up with a 69.

COLLEGE: Jenny Gleason shot a 2-under 70 to win the PGA West Central Chapter's Junior Championship at Belleair Country Club two weeks ago.

The UNC-Greensboro junior and Clearwater High School graduate had four birdies and a double bogey in the round, winning by eight strokes over FSU's Carrie Sordell of Windemere.

Gleason carded a 77 on Sunday in the first round of the Clearwater Country Club Junior Championship for a 10-stroke lead.

Brad Hubbard, a UF senior, is the young men's leader at two-over 74.

Gleason is a product of the Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation Junior Program. As a senior at Clearwater High, she fired a girls course-record 4-under 68 to capture a district championship.

Gleason earned All-Southern Conference honors her first two seasons at UNC-Greensboro.

TAP-INS: Bill Buttner, St. Petersburg Country Club's assistant pro, has entered this week's Club Pro Championship qualifier at the Country Club of Ocala.

Buttner, the runner-up in the recent West Central Chapter PGA Championship, earned his PGA Tour exempt card five times during his career.

After her guest appearance on the Golf Channel earlier this month, East Lake Woodlands teaching pro Karen Lesch started to accumulate e-mail messages _ 85 positive ones after the instructional session with host Peter Kessler. The show had six reruns.

Lesch said she responded to all the e-mails, which ranged in subject matter from compliments on her teaching style to questions about the golf swing and instructional books or videos she has done.

COMING UP: The Florida Women's State Championship continues through Thursday in Lakeland.

Mary Ann Petrillo of St. Petersburg, with a 3 handicap, is the top Pinellas entrant.

The Optimist International Junior Championships, for players 16-18, is scheduled for Thursday-Saturday at Palm Beach Gardens.

Airco Golf Course in Clearwater will reopen Friday under the operation of Pinellas County.

PGA pro Larry Thomas has been hired to manage the course and provide lessons.

There's a driving range, fully-stocked pro shop and restaurant. Greens fees are $19 for May-October.

For information, call 573-GOLF.

The Florida Suncoast Junior Tour for players 6-18 will make a stop at the Vinoy on Aug. 2, Clearwater Country Club on Aug. 14 and Isla del Sol on Aug. 27.

Players must pre-register a week before the event. For information, call Phyllis Lewellyn, 742-7307.