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State win provides a confidence boost

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, winner of the Class 2A high school girls state title last week, has an even more challenging duel on her upcoming schedule.

It is the Polo Classic, an American Junior Golf Association major Sunday-Nov. 30 at Walt Disney World.

Not only will Lincicome again face Florida's best juniors, but the best from California and a few international stars.

Last year, Lincicome made it to the second round of match play before losing to eventual runner-up Nicole Hage of Coral Springs.

Lincicome says the prep state win and a second-place performance in the Rolex Junior Invitational gives her more confidence entering the Polo.

"My all-around game is much better than it was last year," Lincicome said.

She earned AJGA first-team All-America recognition this season.

Lincicome said the biggest problem securing the high school crown was overcoming the weather. Starting at 8 a.m., on Wednesday, she birdied the first two holes before it started to rain and the wind increased.

In one important way, Lincicome was prepared. Her father, Tom, had checked the forecast and had the right foul-weather gear for her.

Lincicome's 2-over 74, coupled with an opening-round 69 for a 143, gave her the championship by three strokes over Lindsey Bergeon of Sarasota Riverview.

PGA TOUR: Financial report cards on the 2002 season are in.

Clearwater's John Huston tops Pinellas regulars, finishing 45th with $1,299,053 in official earnings.

Greg Kraft, weak with an illness much of the year, finished 171st with $222,614. He and Bob Heintz (192nd; $127,346) returned to second-stage events of the tour's qualifying tournament last week in Orlando.

Kraft tied for sixth with a 15-under 273 (69-68-69-67) to advance to the Dec. 4-7 finals at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. Heintz, who shot 1-under, didn't qualify.

"I played perfectly, not taking any unnecessary chances," said Kraft, who lives in Feather Sound. "I made aggressive swings off the tee and conservative (swings) to positions on the green, not always going for the pin.

"I'm really happy with the way I controlled the ball," he said.

Kraft has battled a debilitating disease, commonly called Valley Fever, which saps his strength.

"I don't practice like I used to," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be off the medication by the end of the year."

Although confident entering the final qualifying stage, Kraft said he's not taking it lightly.

"I know I belong out there on the PGA Tour. I've just got to go out there and get it done," Kraft said.

Heintz finished first on the tour in putting with 27.57 per round. Huston tied for 40th in sand saves with a 54.8 percentage.

St. Petersburg's Dan Stone, a two-time NCAA All-American at Florida, qualified for the second stage of Q-School but did not advance from last week's regional in Kingwood, Texas.

SENIORS: Palm Harbor's Jay Overton finished 51st on the Senior PGA Tour after winning $345,903.

He's at World Woods in Brooksville this week competing in the Champions Tour's 2003 Qualifying Tournament.

COLLEGES: Jenny Gleason (Clearwater High) tied for 10th, leading UNC-Greensboro to a 10th-place finish in the Edwin Watts/Palmetto Intercollegiate on Kiawah Island, S.C., with a 220.

Amanda Dick (Countryside) tied for 24th for the Florida Gators in the Auburn Tiger/Derby Invitational in Alabama. She shot 9-over 225.

Kyle Christman (Seminole) fired 3-over 75 for Winthrop University in the Old Dominion/Seascape Invitational in Kitty Hawk, N.C. He tied for 24th.

FORE/FOUR: For the fourth time in his career, Bill McCaskill of Tarpon Springs has been hit by an errant golf shot.

Playing at Clearwater Country Club last month, McCaskill was leaving the par-4, 361-yard seventh hole when he was hit in the temple by an approach attempt from a guest from the Panhandle in a following group of five.

The injury knocked McCaskill unconscious. He was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center where he was treated and released.

McCaskill said he heard someone yell "fore" just as the ball hit him. The man who struck the ball was playing from behind a tree and couldn't see him, McCaskill said.

"I was hit right above the eye socket," McCaskill said. "I had a mild concussion and was given a CAT scan.

"The doctor said that if the ball hit an inch away from where it did, I'd have been a dead man," McCaskill said.

The next day, wearing a construction worker's hard hat, the 12-handicap player was back at the club joking, ready to compete again.

The fourth hit on McCaskill, 73, a retired air conditioning businessman, ties his record of four holes-in-one.

"I'm more proud of the 25 eagles I've had in my career," McCaskill said.

TRANSITION: Steve Bagley, director of golf at Cove Cay Country Club, has resigned effective Nov. 30.

He will be replaced by head pro Bill Armstrong, 36, who has been at the club six years.

Bagley said after 25 years as a pro at clubs in Massachusetts and Florida, he wants to ease up some and try a different career, such as investments or real estate.

He has joined Wentworth Golf Club in East Lake, where his fiancee, Lynda Jensen, is a member. She's a former Florida Women's State Amateur Champion playing under the name of Lynda Brown. She later played on the Futures Tour, leaving as the leading money winner.

THIS GAME IS EASY: Joseph Lusardi was calm when his 5-iron tee shot on the 103-yard 17th hole at the Chi Chi Rodriguez course landed on the green and trickled into the cup.

"He wasn't excited at all," said Randy Cohen, the director of junior golf at the club who witnessed the rare feat.

"Maybe he wanted to see it go in on the fly. But Joseph had only been playing the game for a month, and I guess he didn't realize what he had accomplished."

Lusardi, 9, is a fourth-grader at Modesta-Robbins School, located at Chi Chi's.

MORE CHI CHI'S: The Silver Jubilee Kids Klassic was played Sunday and Monday. Fuzzy Zoeller was the special guest.