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Area golf stars, games head south

April 17, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

bobp@hearld-mail.com

Ashley Grier and Travis Ausherman are in this for the long drive.

There is a reason Smithsburg's Grier and Middletown's Ausherman have spent countless hours playing golf. And the reasons are as simple as a par-4 hole.

Both got off the tee cleanly with strong scholastic and amateur careers. Tuesday, they lined up the approach shot which somewhere down the line could lead to the ultimate birdie putt.

Grier and Ausherman each signed a letter-of-intent to play golf scholastically for Jacksonville (Fla.) University. While getting a coveted scholarship is a huge motiviator, playing year-round in Florida will be a chance to see just how good their games actually are.

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"I want to get down there and get through the first year and see what happens," Grier said. "If I can improve, maybe I could go on."

Ausherman is a little more pointed.

"This is pretty neat," he said. "Now I know where I am going and I'm looking forward to playing golf where it's warm and excelling at it and hopefully I'll can get the chance to turn pro."

Grier and Ausherman make no qualms that they wanted to play golf collegiately in a warm climate at a school which could give them good education and a chance to play right away.

Jacksonville and coach Mike Flemming filled all the criteria.

"He promised me that I could start for the team right away," said Grier, the 2000 Maryland state champion and the 2001 state runner-up. "It's pretty exciting because this is their first year under this coach - and he coaches Vijay Singh - and I'm on the ground level of something new."

For Ausherman, Flemming represented the only real coach who showed major interest in him and his game.

"I've worked hard for a couple of years and I've played a lot of tournaments to get my resume up to a good level to get some coaches interested in me," he said. "Not many did but (Flemming) showed interest in me and was willing to give me a chance."

Ausherman finished sixth at the 2001 Maryland state tournament but has since won the Plantation Junior Golf Tournament in Clarksburg, W.Va., on April 7 and took second at the Future Collegians World Tour tournament at Penn State last weekend.

Grier is getting a partial athletic scholarship and qualified to receive one for academics, which will cover about 85 percent of her costs.

Grier passed on some North Carolina schools and James Madison. Ausherman got looks from South Carolina and some other Florida schools before accepting the invitation to Jacksonville.

Now that Grier and Ausherman have made the approach, the time has come to get to work and card a score ... and that will take more against tougher competition.

"I think I might get a wakeup call," Ausherman said. "The competition will be more difficult than it is here, but that can only go to help improve my game."

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