Wootton and Seneca Valley, which placed first and second, respectively, in the Maryland state high school golf tournament last year, are favored in Tuesday's Division II tournament at Poolesville public golf course.

The four top teams and the top 20 percent of individual finishers will advance to the state tournament at the University of Maryland.

Wootton has all four top golfers back and Seneca Valley has three of four. Senior Steve VanZutphen is Seneca's newcomer.

"Although I lost Chris (Nelson)," Seneca Valley Coach Bob Turnbull said, "Steve has stepped in to pick up the slack. With his 73 average, the same as Chris's from last year, I feel that I have basically the same team."

Seneca Valley (15-0) beat Wootton (12-3) three times in regular-season matches this fall: 410-420, 384-396 and 369-377.

"Our earlier losses to Seneca Valley were due to a lack of depth in our team," Wootton Coach Jack Weiland said. Wootton has four players shooting in the 70s to six for Seneca Valley. In the regular season, six golfers play for a team in a match and the best five scores are counted. Only the top four scores count in district competition.

"I don't envy Coach Turnbull," Weiland said, "because he has to tell two very good kids to stay home for the tournament."

Seneca Valley's tournament team has not been decided. Its top five players are senior Clare Dolan (third in last year's state tournament), junior Eddie Dolan, senior Steve VanZutphen, junior John Nelson and junior Dave Gularson.

"The three top spots are sewn up by Clare, Eddie and Steve, but John and Dave are neck and neck for the fourth position," said Turnbull.

Wootton's tournament team consists of seniors John Mackey, Brent Goldstein, Bert Moreno and defending state champion Mike Watson. Mackey, last year's state runner-up, is averaging 72 strokes per match, three strokes better than Watson's average this season.

Wootton's Mackey and Watson are expected to place high among the individual competitors, along with Seneca's Clare Dolan and Magruder's Doug Ridgway.

Although Ridgway's yearly average is 76, Magruder Coach Tom McAuliffe contends he can shoot a lot lower.

"Doug's average is distorted," McAuliffe said. "Doug had two matches this year in which he shot 68s, but then he had two horrendous ones, an 83 and an 84. If his game is on at Poolesville, and with the length that he can hit the ball, he can take it."

McAuliffe added, "In terms of team competition, we're probably fourth, fifth, or sixth in the county. Our hopes are pinned on Doug because if he's having that super day, we'll be fourth."

"I'm playing better this year than I did last year," Mackey said, "but I think that Doug Ridgway has a better chance than any of us at winning. My problem is golf management.

"I always take too much risk and go for it all. Doug is a good player because he takes such a positive attitude towards playing. I wasn't playing too well this summer, but I played a few games with him this summer and picked up some of his positive attitude. I also played with my golf coach. This season I haven't taken as many risks, and I'm playing better."

Watson doesn't feel he is playing to his potential. "It's been a real up and down season for me," Watson said. "I'm not playing as well as I did last year, but I'll be ready for the districts and states when they come around."

In interdivisional play this fall, all 20 teams in the county competed in matches, which involved a team from each of North, South, East and West divisions. The first-place teams from each division played each other, the second-place teams played each other, and so on.

The North Division proved strongest, taking three of five matches. Seneca Valley (first place in the North), Wootton (second) and Gaithersburg (third) all won their divisional matches.