Belleair's Evan Jensen had every reason to go into match play of the 59th U.S. Girls Championship at Tacoma Country Club in Lakewood, Wash., brimming with confidence.
Among the starting field of 156 international qualifiers, Jensen shot opening rounds of 68-72 for 4-under 140, tying for fifth.
In her opening match with Katie Sylvan of San Diego, Jensen took a 3-up lead after five holes. Then Sylvan birdied Nos. 7 and 9 to cut the lead to one and squared it at 12 with another birdie.
"I was making pars but she was sinking putts from all over the greens," said Evans, 17, 40th nationally among junior girls.
Sylvan took the lead at 15 with a birdie. Jensen fought back with birdies on 16 and 18 to no avail. Sylvan matched her on both, including a 25-footer on the final hole.
"Overall, it was a good learning experience for me," Jensen said Wednesday from Washington. "I wish I could have gone a little further in the tournament because I played well."
Jensen's next match is even bigger. She qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur, Aug. 6-12 in Carmel, Ind.
- Practice partner Andrea Messer missed the cut to 64 players at Washington, as did Seminole's Meghan Chapman. Messer was coming off a strong finish (77-74-72-223) at the Betsy Rawls Girls Championship in Pennsylvania. Vicky Hurst of Melbourne won with 206.
U.S. JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP: Zach Sobel, an incoming junior at Palm Harbor University, shot 79-73-152 on Monday and Tuesday at the 60th annual championship in Augusta, Mo., missing the cut for a playoff for the final match-play slot by a stroke. Sobel qualified at the University of Florida course late last month.
In Missouri, eight boys tied at 151 for the 64th slot for match play among the opening field of 156 qualifiers. Seung Noh, 16, of South Korea captured medalist honors, shooting a final-round 4-under 67 to go with his opening 69 for 136. Noh is his country's youngest national amateur champion, winning the title at 14.
Jacksonville's Sean Dale shot 72-68-140. He was the first Florida finisher at Boone Valley Golf Club. The finals are set for today.
In last year's finals, Phillip Francis of Scottsdale, Ariz., beat Tampa's Brad Schneider in the first round, 6 and 4.
Past junior champions of note include PGA Tour pros Gary Koch of Tampa in 1970, David Duval in 1989, and Tiger Woods in 1991, '92 and '93. Woods is the tournament's youngest champion, first winning at 15.
FLORIDA JUNIOR TOUR: Nick Buccina, 17, of Tarpon Springs found himself in a playoff at Lake Jovita in Dade City last weekend after shooting 71-72 for 1-under 143. Buccina, who attends East Lake High, overcame a two-stroke deficit in the final round to tie Brazil's Roberto Paciornick. In the playoff, they went par, birdie, par on the first three playoff holes. Then Buccina closed with a birdie on a par-3 hole to capture the title.
Dunedin's Justin Foster finished third, shooting 74-71-145.
Other high Pinellas finishers include Chad Fleming and Michael Baskovich, 151; John Valenty and Mike Myregaard, 157; and Devin Hernandez, 162.
Mariana Barrios of Colombia defeated Jenna Taylor of Valrico after a three-hole playoff to take the girls title.
CGA: Seven-under 65 won for both the regular and senior divisions at Monday's better-ball match at East Lake Woodslands North course.
Odessa's Jeff Neugebauer and Dick Clemens won the regular division. And Mike Sanderson of Homosassa teamed with Larry Vander Bie to win the senior group by six strokes over Mitch Bentley and Jim Fannin. In net scoring, Bobby Jolley and Jim Montali teamed for 61. Peter Thompson crafted the shot of the day, a hole-out on the par-3 16th.
Last week at Bardmoor, Charlie Jarvis' 79 held up for the win with Joe Cilluffo taking net honors with 67. In the senior division, Tom Bremer was at 74, a stroke better than Bill Higgins. Frank Chotechuang captured net honors at 64 and Barbara Miller in the women's division with net 73.
LARGO COURSE: Last Saturday's winning scramble team was composed of Greg Farrey and Larry Cella of Seminole, who teamed with Largo's Dick Stickley and Clearwater's John Eppard for 16-under 46.
Largo's Robert Costello got an ace with a 3 wood on the 250-yard, par-4 No. 8 for a rare double eagle. On Sunday Rich Kaczanowski of Largo aced the 105-yard 16th with a pitching wedge.
MORE ACES: Brothers Ron and Allen Rice of Clearwater recently joined the hole-in-one club. Ron made his on the 90-yard 11th at Largo Golf Course. Then on July 12 at Countryway, Allen duplicated the feat on the 57-yard sixth hole.
WEST COAST WOMEN: Lisa Hartley won her second straight league match with 3-over 75 on Thursday on her home course, Clearwater Country Club. Hartley had 15 pars and three bogeys. Kim Hollister of Innisbrook finished second with 81 but salvaged net honors at 74.
Trish Deleo of the host club won Flight A with 88, and Sallie Abraham topped that with 85, tying in Flight B with Kathy Conroy of East Lake Woodlands. Miko Matics of Buckhorn prevailed in Flight C with 90 and Linda Lidster's 92 held up for the win in Flight D for the Dunedin member.
JUNIOR CLUB CHAMPIONS: Matt Alwin won the Clearwater CC championship for the third consecutive year, posting a 54-hole score of 14-over 230. Alwin will play for Warner Southern College this fall. Logan Ward won the First Flight with 267. Brittany Guant won the girls title with 301.
THIS WEEKEND: The Florida State Parent-Child Championship is at the Disney Resort's Palm and Magnolia courses plus the Oak Trail executive course will be used for two divisions. The junior division is for children 6 to 12 and the regular division is for those 13 or older. The tournament is open to grandparents and pros who want to compete with their child or grandchild.