The Times' 2006 Pinellas County high school player of the year is continuing her winning ways.
Seminole High junior Meghan Chapman didn't just win last weekend's girls title at the Innisbrook Easter tournament, she finished the three-day challenge 14 strokes ahead co-runnerups Dakoda Dowd of Palm Harbor and A.J. Newell of Tampa.
Chapman shot steady rounds of 75-73-74 for 6-over 222 on the tree-lined Island course. She attributed her success, in part, to successfully executing a lot of recovery shots the first day that led to saves, which in turn gave her a lot of confidence going into the second and final rounds.
"I'm an up-and-down player and that first day I had to battle all day to score (well) and my success carried over the next two days," she said. "My short game helped my scoring plus I've been struggling to getting my swing on the right plane and I think I've finally got it right. ...I'm really pleased with the way I played."
The win at Innisbrook was the second in a row for Chapman. In December, she won the girls title in the Christmas Junior Classic.
Chapman has her sights on a Florida Junior Tour event later this month. In the fall she'll compete in high school golf, aiming for a place at the state Class 2A championship. Last fall she was in a playoff at regionals for a spot at state and didn't make it.
Dowd shot 75 in her second round but opening with 81 and closing with 80 for 236 created the gap with the winner.
Newell is an eighth-grader at Northside Christian who also shows promise. She earned Times' first-team honors last fall along with teammates Morgan Jackson and Ryan Ashburn, who since has transferred to Indian Rocks Christian.
Palm Harbor's Brienna Heinzler, another Times' first- team all-county member, finished sixth with scores of 81-83-79-242.
In the boys 14-18 division, Countryside Country Club member Mike Baskovich shot 72 with three birdies in the second round to take the lead. While he closed with 76, John Welden of Pilot Mountain, N.C., finished with a rush (70) to win by two strokes at 223.
"I was confident after taking the lead," said Baskovich, a junior at Calvary Christian and a Times' first-teamer in 2006, "but I guess I tried to hit a little too safe and that led to a 40 on the front nine. I finished strong on the back with a 36 to get back in it."
Still, Baskovich captured second over a strong bay area field. Rick Kittlelstad of Lutz and Taylor Szyndlar of Jupiter tied for third. Then Zach Sobel, the Times' boys player of the year in 2005 and '06, closed strong with 71 for fifth place a stroke back. It was Sobel's first tournament since breaking a foot playing basketball in January.
Travis Ralph of Redington Beach finished 11th with rounds of 79-77-78-234.
Bradenton's Oliver Vaidis won the boys 13-and-under title with 148 (73-75), with Lee McCoy of Palm Harbor just a stroke back. Dustin Dingus of Palm Harbor finished sixth, shooting 79-79-158.
AMERICAN JUNIORS: Four Pinellas girls qualified for the prestigious Mizuno Junior at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga., last weekend and earned national ranking points in the American Junior Golf Association.
The local cast was headed by Evan Jensen of Belleair, who was on a roll when the third round ended after just nine holes due to nasty weather conditions.
By closing with a birdie-4 on her 45th hole for 1-under 35, Jensen secured third place among 45 international players with 187. She opened with rounds of 73-79.
Largo High teammate Andrea Messer tied for 19th, shooting 83-73-41-197 to tie Brooke Pancake of Chattanooga, Tenn.
Oldsmar's Whitney Wenglasz tied for 36th with 85-82-40-207, a stroke ahead of Courtney Harter of Clearwater.
NATIONAL AMATEUR: In one of the top events of the year, the Azalea Amateur in Charleston, S.C., St. Petersburg's Mike Barbosa rallied from an opening-round 78 with scores of 75-70-73 for 295.
Webb Simpson of Wake Forest beat Florida Gator Billy Horschel for the title in a two-hole playoff after tying at 278.
Peter Uihlein of Bradenton posted 286, four strokes better than UF freshman Tyson Alexander, son of head coach Buddy Alexander.
COLLEGES: Jason Elliott (Palm Harbor U.), a junior at USF, helped the Bulls win the Arkansas State Indian Classic this week in Jonesboro, Ark. Elliott, a former Times' player of the year, shot rounds of 72-71-78-221 as the team went 12-under 852 for the title among 16 teams. Tyler Hitchcock led the Bulls, shooting a career-low 210 (72-69-69). The team moves on to Louisville, Ky., April 22-24 for the Big East Championship.
- Freshman Danielle Jackson (Northside Christian) led (78-77-77-232) Stetson in scoring at the Ryder College Challenge at Miami Lakes last week. The USF women, headed by medalist Christina Jones (77-73-72-222), won the 12-team event.
HOOTERS TOUR: Ryan Gildersleeve (Clearwater High), a former NCAA All-American at South Alabama, tied for 16th (73-69-70-73-285) at the recent Michelob Ultra Championship in Lake Mary.
CGA: Jeff Pett and Claud Johnston turned out to be the better foul weather players on Monday at St. Petersburg Country Club. They shot 1-under 71 in a better-ball match for the win. In the senior division, Don Sherer and Jim Barber combined for 72, one stroke better than Ray Ludwin and Tony Spada.
Kurt Demarr and John Munk shot 63 net to edge Jerry MacDonald and Ron Milne by a stroke. The women's net title was won (70) by Margaret Joyce and Lina Lavine.
COMING UP: The annual Dunedin Chamber of Commerce tournament is April 20 at Dunedin Country Club. And the monthly Pinellas Interclub match has been postponed to April 30 at Belleview Biltmore.