Rarefied atmosphere in golf in playing at a high level. In this case, much higher than usual.
That's where Clearwater Country Club member Lisa Hartley found herself Monday as she played the front nine at Lone Palm in 1-under 35 and the back 1 over for 72 and a big win among the best of the West Coast Women's Association.
"I just got into a zone and stayed in it," Hartley said, adding she was so focused she didn't realize she was at No. 18 until she got to its tee box.
"I was thrilled by it since I usually don't do well in West Coast events. But I've been working closely the past year with (teaching pro) Ned Hall here at Clearwater (CC) and he's helped me bring my handicap down from a 12 to a 4. He's a great teacher, plus he pointed me toward new clubs - Calloway irons and TaylorMade metal woods."
As usual, putting made the difference for Hartley, who did not miss from 8 feet in. That was big and getting down for a birdie two from a bunker on the sixth hole was huge.
Hartley, who turns 64 on April 16, faces the same formidable cast of elite players she beat Monday at the April 26-27 league championship at Lake Jovita. They include defending champion Sisi Hedges, plus Jackie Currier, Debbie Mook Sang plus former league champion Mary Ann Petrillo of Pasadena.
"I think they were in shock I did so well at Lone Palm," said Hartley, a New Hampshire native. "In fact, I was, too."
CGA: An eagle on the 475-yard second hole at Countryside's Pine course helped the team of Mark Wheaton and Mark Thomas shoot a winning score of 7-under 65 in Monday's better-ball match. Wheaton, a scratch player from New Port Richey, hit 220 yards to the fringe after a 255-yard drive. From just off the edge of the green, he stroked a 40-footer with a big left-to-right swing into the cup for eagle.
"Mark also had four birdies so we could have been 8 under except for a couple of bogeys," said Palm Harbor's Thomas, who contributed two birdies toward the winning score. "In all, it was a very enjoyable experience for us. It always helps when you win and it also helps your scoring when the course is in great shape as Countryside was."
The team of Marks won by three strokes over two other formidable twosomes.
Rich Volcko and Mike Sanderson, defending CGA champions in the regular and senior divisions respectively, shot 68 to tie for second with the team of Brandon's Decker Todd and Juice Ahern, a member at Tarpon Woods. Ahern won a skin on the Pine course's 170-yard No. 8 hole by hitting his tee shot to within 2 feet, 8 inches.
Four "Bills" shared a tie for first in the senior division for players 55 and older. Bill Johnson and Bill O'Hara of Bayonet Point shared honors at 69 with the team of Bill Fulford and Bill Grant, both from New Port Richey.
In net scoring, Wayne Wiseman and Dave Stander went low (61) to win by two strokes over Randy Curtis and Terry Measel plus the team of Ray Ludwin and Tony Baccari. Janet Richey and Diane Springer (69) were the women's net winners.
LPGA: Brittany Lincicome's tie for second at last weekend's major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, moved her to fifth on the money list among Americans. Significantly, her high finish also improved her standing for a place on the U.S. team for the Solheim Cup, a biannual competition between 12 Americans and the top 12 European women.
The top 10 U.S. team members are selected on points earned starting in 2005 and running through Aug. 26 at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore. Two others are named as captain's picks.
As a junior player, Lincicome traveled to Sweden four years ago to play in the junior Solheim Cup and said her goal is to return this year as a member of the pro team.
The Golf Channel will televise the match from Halmstad Golf Club, Sept. 14-16.