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Local player makes top 10 in state tourney

St. Petersburg's Michael Abrams tied for eighth in last week's Florida State Mid-Amateur Championship at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach.

He gradually improved with 76-75-74 for a 225, tying with Paul Royak of Tampa, Ed Kenny, Lake Worth; Pete Leveille, Orlando; and Bruce Scamehorn, Winter Haven.

The tournament is for players 25-and-older. The format was modified from match play to stroke play due to the threatening weather.

The finalists among 350 entries played 18 holes Thursday and 36 on Friday. The winner by three strokes was Steve Carter of Jacksonville. He fired a 3-under 213 (72-67-74).

CGA: The County Golf Association last week traveled to Manatee County, where Pinellas competitors dominated the regular division for players up to 55.

J.R. Robertson of Belleair Bluffs won with a 6-over 78, three shots better than runner-up Barry Smith of Clearwater, at Legacy Club in Bradenton. Gulfport's Chris May won the net division with a 70, playing to 15 handicap.

Damon McCormick of St. Petersburg netted 73 with a 13 handicap, one stroke ahead of St. Petersburg's David Dale.

The best rounds were crafted by seniors.

Bill Cristafulli of Nokomis and Tampa's John King recorded par 72. Ron Morrison, Tampa, won the net division with a 61 and the help of a 12 handicap. He was followed by Dunedin's Wayne Mateer (68) and Sarasota's Ed Nettles (69).

St. Petersburg's Ernie Muschner, winner of the 2004 CGA stroke-play championship, had eagles on the par-5 second and 14th holes.

CHARITY TOURNAMENT: Largo police officer Mike Eaton not only organized the annual St. Paul Youth Choir scramble at Belleview Biltmore, he played on the winning team.

Along with Rex Gaugh, Karl Meter and Rick Hollis, they put together a 13-under 59 to take first place.

Sixty players teed up for the fund-raiser, and there were 20 no-shows due to the threatening weather, Easton said.

EXECUTIVE WOMEN: Kim Byle of Dunedin parlayed flight victories in the Tampa Bay and state Executive Women's Golf Association 2004 Championship to qualify for the national finals earlier this month at Hermitage Country Club in Nashville, Tenn.

Byle, a lead systems technician with the county Property Appraisers Office, finished third among 25 players in the fourth flight.

The president of the local chapter of the EWGA is Bonnie Lovell, (813) 792-8366.

COLLEGES: Lara Smilnak (CCC), a freshman at Boston College, finished first for the Eagles and tied for 28th among 106 players in last week's Dartmouth Open in Hanover, N.H.

She posted 83-84_167. Next on the schedule is the Yale Invitational on Oct. 16.

HIGH SCHOOLS: The perennial powerhouse Countryside boys and the Northside Christian girls are off to a fast start this season.

Both are undefeated and hoping to make another run at district, regional and possible state championships next month and early November.

Countryside improved to 8-0 with a big win on its home course, Countryside Country Club. The Cougars' top four players totaled 150, led by P.J. Kolosvary's 36, Dustin Taylor, 37; David Rupert, 38; and Zack Walters, 39.

Tyler Wilkins shot 41. He carded a team-leading 34 earlier last week in another Cougars sweep of 147.

"They could be contenders this year," said coach Greg Bryant, in his 20th and final year at the helm. "They help each other out and play well together."

The Largo boys team, augmented by Andrea Messer and Evan Jensen, is 12-2.

Countryside's first step to returning to the state tourney will be Oct. 18 when the district event is played at Tarpon Woods. Seminole, which qualified for state last year, and Palm Harbor also are viable candidates for a berth.

The Northside Christian girls, all underclass members, are coming off a big win last week at Seminole Lake Country Club where they captured the third annual Pinellas County Championship on a course playing to 5,536 yards from the women's tees.

The scoring members shot in the 70s. They were Wendy Wenglasz, 76; Dakoda Dowd, a sixth-grader, 77; Mo Jackson, 78; and her sister, Danielle Jackson, 79. Rounding out the squad were Sophie Dembroski, 81; and eighth-grader Ryan Ashburn, 84.

Rachel Edwards of Seminole High had the best score of the day, a 3-over 75.

Coach Dave Jackson's Northside Christian club racked up an even more significant win earlier this month over perennial power Saddlebrook Academy as the Mustangs prevailed by four strokes. Danielle Jackson led the way with a 2-under 34 at Saddlebrook Resort.

"We hope to advance to state (Class A) again this year," coach Jackson said. "But to win there, everyone has to play their best.

"We have a shot at it because the chemistry is great with this team," he said. "Everyone is pulling for everyone else. But to beat defending champion St. Andrew's (Boca Raton), which is led by (nationally-ranked) Morgan Pressel, is going to be a challenge. We'll be in the hunt."

A Pinellas girls squad never has won a state title. This could be the first.

LPGA Q-SCHOOL: Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, who is ranked sixth among the nation's amateur women by Golfweek, one place behind Pressel, will tee it up Oct. 5 in the professional tour's qualifying sectional at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice.

Clearwater's Jenny Gleason, who was a rookie on the Futures Tour this season, will be in pursuit of a qualifying spot in the finals. They are scheduled for Dec. 1-5 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach.

MAINLANDS: The Pinellas Park course will reopen Saturday after undergoing major improvements.

The course has been lengthened to 4,503 yards, and the par has increased from 63 to 65. Plus, there are new Bermuda tiff dwarf greens.

Manager Kevin Mitchell said the course, which first opened in 1970, had not had any major changes over the years. It is open to the public. For tee times, call 577-4847.

MANGROVE APPOINTMENT: Ray Pennington, a PGA teaching pro, has been hired by St. Petersburg Director of Golf Jeff Hollis.

Previously, Pennington, 32, was the director of golf at Montreaux Country Club in Reno, Nevada, which played host to a PGA Tour event during his tenure.

Pennington will begin a Thursday-Sunday clinic from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 9. The clinic, which costs $10, will address all aspects of the game. To register or for information, call the pro shop, 893-7800.