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Future golf stars collide

Sean O'Hair's recent successes on the PGA Tour - his victory in the PODS Championship and a tie for third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, in which he played the final round with Tiger Woods - reinforced the David Leadbetter Golf Academy's reputation for developing champions.


The 25-year-old O'Hair spent only about a year at the academy, from 1997-98, before dropping out to turn professional at the behest of his domineering father Marc, from whom he is now estranged.


But since O'Hair attended the Bradenton proving grounds, a continuous stream of talented American and international players - Paula Creamer, David Gossett, Aree Song, Casey Wittenberg and Julieta Granada, to name only a few - have trained on the DLGA grounds on the IMG Academy campus.


It's likely another future tour star currently enrolled at the academy will be at the Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club in Palm Harbor this weekend for the 15th annual American Junior Golf Association's Mizuno Junior, a 54-hole event for boys and girls that begins Friday.


The tournament is being played at Innisbrook for the first time. The boys play the Copperhead Course - site of the PODS Championship - while the girls tackle the Highlands North Course. Practice rounds will be played today.


The boys field includes two DLGA students who have earned honorable mention Rolex Junior All-American status, high school juniors Zeyu He of Shen Zhen, China, and Tommy Chung Hao Mou of Taipei, Taiwan.


Zeyu He won the 2007 Southern Junior and was second in three other events. Mou was second in the Stanford Financial Junior.


Other DLGA-Bradenton students in the Boys Division field include Oscar Sharpe, a highly decorated junior from Cheltenham, United Kingdom, Byeong-hun An, Chun Hung Chan, Zhongyang Fu, Grant Gaugler, Rocky Khara, David Pastore, Andy Quintero, William Sjaichudin, Cyril Suk and Shang Zhi.


In the girls division, college coaches will have their eyes on DLGA student Sally Watson, a 16-year-old junior from Scotland. Watson recently was named to the Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup Team that will face the United States from May 30-June 1 on the Old Course at St. Andrews. She finished second at Chateau Elan Resort (Ga.) in last year's Mizuno Junior, which was shortened to 45 holes by inclement weather.


Other DLGA girls entered in the Mizuno Junior are Elisa Aoki, Dottie Ardina, Doris Chen, Ginger Howard, Jessica Korda, Daniela Lendl, Christina Miller, Megan Pak, Shannon Pak and Andrea Watts.


The boys field also includes Bradenton residents Zachary Balit, Mike Murray and David Ostrowski. Balit's sister Gabrielle is entered in the Girls Division.


University of Alabama freshman Spencer Cole - a graduate of DLGA and The IMG Academy School - won the 2007 Mizuno Junior boys crown.

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