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New swing refuels Nelson's passion

There's no secret to low scoring.

It's merely a matter of minimizing bogeys, eliminating double bogeys and making a few birdies along the way.

That's essentially what Mary Nelson of St. Petersburg Country Club did Monday in a West Coast Women's tournament on her home course.

Despite playing to a 14 handicap, Nelson crafted a best-round-of-the-year 7-over 79 consisting of nine pars, eight bogeys and a birdie. That score not only enabled Nelson to win Flight B handily, but it also improved on the score of the Flight A winner. Only Flight AA winner Jacki Currier of Walden Lake had a better score in the match, a 77.

Nelson acknowledged shooting 79 was an exceptionally good round for her, but she had an explanation.

"I've been taking lessons lately from my sister-in-law, Priscilla Nelson, a teaching pro at Summerfield in Riverview, and it's really paying off," Mary Nelson said. "Now I take a bigger turn with a flatter swing. That not only helps my distance, it also helps my accuracy. And the girls in my group were very encouraging in that match; they helped me a lot."

Nelson, 56, retired from her position as a human resources director three years ago. That's when she started playing more than once a week. Last summer she had her best score (77), and now she believes this 79 indicates there are better days ahead, including lowering her handicap.

"I never broke 80 until I started playing with her (sister-in-law)," Nelson said. "I love this game passionately, and I'm looking forward to next month's (league) championship at Lake Jovita. I hope to play in it and do well."

Mary Ann Petrillo, a Pasadena member, finished second to Currier in Flight AA with an 81.

Judy Tickles of Northdale won net in AA with 71, followed by tie between Vickie Stafford of Cypress Run and Innisbrook's Kim Hollister (74).

Flights B and C had three-way ties for first. Jenni Marshall of St. Petersburg CC tied with Margaret Franklin (Palma Ceia) and Cindy McManamon (Countryside) in C at 87, and 92 won for Countryside's Donna Baginski and Diane Poad plus Marilyn Schwegman in Flight D.

COUNTY GA: Sean Martin and J.R. Robertson of Belleair clicked at Monday's better ball match at the Bayou Club, posting a winning score of 6-under 66, one stroke better than Decker Todd and Juice Ahern of Tarpon Woods.

Bobby Jolley and Jim Montali (74) won the senior division by a stroke over John King and Wayne Mateer of Dunedin.

Net honors were won by Lyle Mosier and Pete Yore at 61, and Barbara Miller and Lorrie Post in the women's division at 67.

FLORIDA JUNIOR TOUR: Justin Foster, the 15-year-old club champion at Dunedin Country Club, shot rounds of 76-76-152 last weekend at Rio Pinar in Orlando, tying for 18th place. A strong field was headed by Sam Zhongyang of China, a new student at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, who had rounds of 67-68-135 on the par-72 layout.

St. Petersburg's M.J. Maguire finished at 162 (83-79).

Seminole's Ryan Ashburn (Indian Rocks Christian) tied for seventh in the girls' division, shooting 84-79-163.

MONDAY: The Bayou Club will host the 18th annual More2Life Classic at 1 p.m. The tournament is put on by the Pregnancy Center of Pinellas County, with the funds raised going toward the organization's abstinence education programs that spread the word into the community and schools.

Both Maguire and Ashburn are playing, and they may be joined by 12 or more top area juniors who are members of the Center's Youth Advisory Committee. Others include Evan Jensen, Andrea Messer, Meagan Chapman, Mo Jackson, Brianna Heinzler and Whitney Wenglasz.

For more information, call the center at 545-1234, ext. 18.