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48th annual Lollypop Invitational

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Lynne Wood wins after close showdown with Leni Butler

C.J. Risak: Correspondent

CRYSTAL RIVER — Maybe it was best they didn’t know they were battling, hole by hole, stroke by stroke, for a championship.

As Lynne Wood, the eventual champion of the 48th annual Lollypop Golf Tournament, put it: “I didn’t even think about (winning), honestly. The minute you start thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got a chance,’ that’s when you mess up.”

Wood didn’t mess up much, getting a birdie on the par-three 16th hole, then playing the last two holes at one-over par while Leni Butler, playing in the same threesome, was two-over on the last three to lose the title by a single stroke.

Wood shot a 45-40/85, with Butler placing second overall with a 46-40/86. Connie Gibson took third in the championship flight with a 46-43/89, and Barb Mosio was fourth with a 47-43/90.

A resident of Manchester, England, who spends her winters in Brooksville, Wood knew she was playing well but instead of wondering where she might finish — “Not really,” she said — she concentrated on “just playing my own game.”

She added, “I enjoyed the day very much. I usually shoot between 84 and 92, it just depends on the day, so this is a good score for me.”

Butler’s score was good for her, too, but she didn’t pay much attention to where she might place either. 

“I did play well, for a 71 net, that’s OK. 

“I was not aware of (how close it was), I just played my game. Lynn is my friend and I was just glad I was hitting the ball good.”

Butler then conceded: “I know she’s a better player than me.”

After the first four holes, Butler had a four-stroke lead, but she gave that all back plus one over the final five holes of the front nine, ending up with a 46 to Wood’s 45.

On the back nine, Butler recaptured the lead after the first four holes, her birdie-four on the par-five, 408-yard 13th hole putting her ahead by a stroke. She still had that one-stroke lead until Wood birdied No. 16.

“It was a good drive onto the green,” Wood said of the 146-yard, par-three hole. “It was within four feet.”

And how she handled those final four feet was indicative of what she did all day: “I putted well, I think I putted very well all day.”

The par-five, 406-yard 17th hole proved decisive — Wood parred, while Butler got a bogey.

It was a result that, had it gone in the other direction, neither golfer would have cared much. Indeed, one thing that did bother Wood — slightly — was the weather. 

“Just a bit of a chilly start,” she said of temperatures in the 40s when the tournament began, then added, “It didn’t really bother me at all. It was a bit like English weather.”

The first flight low gross winner was Becky Monroe with a 45-44/89, with Karen Stacy second at 51-45/96 and Phyllis Pike third with a 46-51/97. Pike’s 71 low-net total earned top honors.

Carol Lanzillo was best in third flight low gross with a 46-49/95, followed by Holly Jones (52-48/100) and Lorraine Adams (46-54/100). Jones’ 70 was the tops low net total.

Other noteworthy awards were the three par-three, closest-to -the-pin winners. Mary Felton earned that distinction at the 131-yard No. 6, while Connie Gibson was closest at the 105-yard No. 14. And Wood’s birdie at No. 16 was best there.

Twenty-five golfers competed in the event. As for Butler, her second-place score didn’t earn her anything, but she didn’t go home empty-handed: “I didn’t win anything (on the course), but I did win a lot of raffles, so it was a good day.”