Hardships can either break you or make you stronger.
When Jim Vaughn of Indian Shores stepped onto the No. 1 tee box at 9:03 a.m. at Emerald Greens in Tampa on Monday for a State Senior qualifier, he was greeted with "You are assessed with a 2-stroke penalty for being 30 seconds late," by an official of the Florida State Golf Association.
Vaughn, 59, said he was stunned but didn't argue.
"My group hadn't hit yet since the group in front of us hadn't hit their second shots yet," said Vaughn, who plays to a 6 handicap, up from 2 last year. "Maybe that official had had a bad night. Anyway, I kept the situation in front of me; I didn't quit."
Vaughn parred the first hole but was properly scored with a 6 that included the two-stroke penalty. He made a couple more pars before making his first birdie en route to 5-over 77, good for a third-place tie and a qualifying spot in the State Championship April 10-12 at TPC at Eagle Trace in Coral Springs.
Adversity isn't new to Vaughn. Last year, after working with teaching pro Buck Thornbury at Seminole Lake Country Club, Vaughn lowered his handicap to a 2, qualifying to enter last summer's British Senior Amateur Championship at Turnberry in Scotland.
"I got wedged between a couple of big guys on the flight over and somehow hurt my back," Vaughn said. "I could only play two holes in the tournament because of my back. That's what happens when you fly in the cheap seats."
Rick Anderson of Clearwater shot 79 for a five-way tie for one of 12 qualifying spots in the State Senior Championship. Bobby Kilgore of Tampa was the medalist at 74, one up on Dade City's Gary Pettit.
STATE AM CHAMPIONSHIP: Jeff Dennis of Parkland is expected to defend his title at the 90th annual event, set for June 21-24 at Innisbrook's Island and Copperhead courses. Brad Quiri (East Lake High/USF) won the title in 2004. Wentworth will host a qualifier on June 11, one of 13 sites across the state. Entries close May 9. Amateurs may register at www.fsga.org.
PINELLAS INTERCLUB: Cove Cay won Monday's match at East Lake Woodlands to advance to third in the standings with 44 points. Countryside leads after seven matches (49.5), followed by Seminole Lake (45.5). Countryside was led by the better-ball pair of Randy Wehling and J.P. Thach, who shot 62 tying with Innisbrook's Jeff Pett and Steve Mihalek.
Innisbrook's Jason Villagrana won the pro division, posting 73 just ahead of Belleair's Jim Slattery (74) and Randy Mosley (75) of the Vinoy. Belleview Biltmore will host the April match on the 16th at 1 p.m.
CGA: An eagle on the par-5 No. 8 hole at Beacon Woods helped Clearwater's Vic Morelli win last week's individual match by a stroke. Morelli hit his 3-wood second shot on the 535-yard hole to the green's fringe 30 feet from the pin. Using an 8-iron, he chipped the 30-foot breaker into the cup.
Aided by three birdies, Morelli crafted a 1-over 73 for the win, just a stroke up of Odessa's Jeff Neugebauer and two better than Rich Volcko of Spring Hill. Mike Sanderson won the Senior Division with a 74. Pat Connolly won the Net Flight with 67 with Bill Criqui second at 68.
- At Crescent Oaks on Monday a score of 67 won the better-ball match in both the regular and senior divisions. Pete Yore and Tom Smith were the younger winners and Claud Johnston and J.R. Robertson of Belleair prevailed among seniors 55 and over. Joe Kalinowski and Paul Champigney won net with 61. And Carolyn Murphy won the women's division with a net 64.
BELLEAIR CC: Kiely Allen won (75-82-80-237) the recent Blackie Bracket Trophy as the club's women's stroke-play titleist. At the annual Women's Member/Guest Tournament, Lee May, 82, and her daughter, Connie Voorhees from Orlando won the overall title.