Eddie Bowie, a rising junior at St. Mary's Ryken High School, capped a torrid four-day stretch by winning the Maxfli Nordlinger Cup Qualifier with a 1-under-par 69 Thursday at the Country Club of Maryland in Towson. The 69 matched a personal best score for Bowie.

It was his second Middle Atlantic Professional Golf Association (MAPGA) Junior Tour victory of the week. The first came Tuesday, when the 16-year-old fired a 6-over-par 78 to win the Titleist Stoneleigh Classic held on the hilly Stoneleigh Golf Course in Roundhill, Va.

On Monday, Bowie shot a 75 in the Maryland-South Delaware District of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at Forest Park Golf Course.

The four-day stretch surprised Bowie, who said he hadn't played well in tournaments last year. He attributed this year's success to the added practice time he puts in each day.

"I probably practice between three and four hours a day," Bowie said. "I didn't putt real well this week, but every drive I hit went in the fairway."

His showing at the Optimist tournament was particularly important. Bowie's 3-over-par score placed him third among the 53 golfers and earned him a spot in the national event; the 16-18-year-old field will compete at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Florida on July 21 through 25. The event will be televised on ESPN in September.

"I never really expected to qualify for nationals," said Bowie, of Hughesville. "When I realized I had a chance on the last couple of holes, I just thought par out and I qualify."

Now that he did qualify, his mother, Cathy, said the entire family is going to make the most of the trip to Palm Beach Gardens.

"We're going to make a vacation out of it," she said.

Softball

McDonough Graduate Honored

Mandy Welch, a 1998 graduate of McDonough High School, garnered four individual honors in her first season as the right fielder for the University of Delaware softball team, which plays in the America East Conference.

The Fightin' Blue Hens freshman's 61 hits this past spring were one short of tying the single-season school record. She started all 50 games and finished with 10 doubles, three triples, one home run, 19 RBI, 36 runs and a .357 batting average. She was named second-team All-Mid Atlantic Region, America East Rookie of the Year, a member of the East Carolina All-Tournament Team and America East Rookie of the Week (April 12).

"It was kind of a shock to get it, beat out all the freshmen from all the other schools," Welch said of receiving the conference's top rookie honor.

She is currently playing right field and first base for Bayside Unlimited, an 18-and-older team coached by Robert Earl Radford that won all three games in its first tournament last weekend (Sunday's games were canceled because of rain).

Upon her return to campus in August, the college team will begin conditioning, and Welch hopes it will enter as many as three fall tournaments in preparation for improving on its third-place finish in the conference in 1999 (33-17 record). The 33 wins were the most in the Division I program's 23-year history, and the Blue Hens received votes in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll for the first time.

But there are many more goals she wants the team to achieve. The loftiest?

"Win the NCAA title before I graduate from there," said Welch, who wears No. 13 for the Blue Hens.

Sailing

Games Come to St. Mary's

Eighty-two athletes from six states and three countries are descending on the St. Mary's College campus for the 10th Special Olympics World Games Sailing Competition, which runs tomorrow through Thursday.

Racing begins at 1 p.m. and continues each afternoon through Thursday. Other scheduled highlights include a Navy rescue demonstration Tuesday at 9 a.m. and a celebrity regatta Thursday at 3 p.m.

Opening ceremonies are at 9 a.m. tomorrow and a closing ceremony will take place Thursday at 8 p.m. Both will be held on the St. Mary's Hall lawn.

The rest of the Games are being held in North Carolina; they began yesterday and run through July 4. But the sailing competition, originally scheduled at Kerr Lake in Henderson Point, N.C., was moved to Southern Maryland, where wind speed is more predictable and athletes could be housed closer to the competition site.

Staff writer Theoden K. Janes contributed to this column.

CAPTION: McDonough grad Mandy Welch, now at the University of Delaware, was named the America East Conference rookie of the year.