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Hoosier takes title

Jeff Overton was quietly optimistic before the final round of the 79th annual New Year's Invitational at St. Petersburg Country Club. Despite trailing Adam Scrimenti by six shots, Overton figured his luck, as well as Scrimenti's, had to change.

Sure enough, Scrimenti struggled on the front nine as Overton inched his way to the top. When Overton made a 20-footer for birdie on the 17th hole, the comeback was complete. Overton shot 5-under 67 for a four-day total of 275, one better than Scrimenti, to win the prestigious amateur championship.

"In the first eight holes nothing went (Scrimenti's) way and he gave a few shots back," said Overton, a senior at Indiana University. "And I played the last 12 holes in 5-under par, so I'm happy with that. I was making putts and that was the difference."

Scrimenti, a junior at Johnson and Wales University in Miami, bogeyed four of his first seven holes. He didn't pick up a birdie until the 14th hole, and by then Overton had a two-shot lead.

Scrimenti made it a match with eagle on the par-4 16th hole, hitting his drive 5 feet from the hole. That tied him with Overton, but after Overton's birdie on 17, Scrimenti missed a 15-footer for birdie to tie. Both players parred the par-5 18th hole.

Dalton Melnyk was third at 278. Doug Root won the senior division with 288 after shooting a 3-under 69. He finished six shots ahead of Don Lucas.

_ RODNEY PAGE, Times staff writer