Who won the first-ever Donald Ross Memorial Invitational boys individual title?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tip of the week: Posture

This week's tip keeps it with the basics.

A killer to any decent golf swing can come with incorrect posture.

Bad posture can cause even the best players in the world to have shots go astray.

So, here's a tip from the vault of David Leadbetter, the world-renowned instructor whose namesake is attached to the IMG Academies Leadbetter Golf Academy here in Bradenton:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shook goes deep at World Championship

Kevin Shook blasts a drive at the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship/provided by Shook

Bradenton's Kevin Shook competed in the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship, which aired Christmas Day on ESPN2 via tape delay.

Shook was battling a large field and his own body.

He said he suffered a rib injury during a tournament in Denver, which he won, prior to arriving to the worlds.

Once in Mesquite, Nev., Shook ran roughshod through the opposition en route to a berth in the top 24.

But that lingering injury hurt him during his quarterfinal run that netted him $10,000 and a sixth-place finish in the Open Division.

"It kind of tightened up on me there toward the end of the week at worlds, because it's a whole-long week of hitting and competing so it kind of wears on you," Shook said.

To read more on the Bradenton bomber, look for the story in The Bradenton Herald's Thursday edition.

Until then, enjoy a nice highlights package to whet your appetite:

Monday, December 27, 2010

David Fay retires

David Fay by John Mummert/USGA

As was reported Christmas Eve, USGA executive director David Fay will retire.

Fay's decision didn't garner the media hype that befell LeBron James during his television special on the worldwide leader, ESPN, but the impact should still resonate within the golfing world.

Fay was the guy most people could hear during the United States Open on certain rules questions that the broadcasting crew needed answering.

Nowadays, other veteran rules officials are brought in for those answers in important tournaments, but during the beginning, Fay was that guy.

More importantly, though, Fay made a strong effort to bring golf back to the Olympics and traditional public courses like Bethpage Black served as a host to the U.S. Open - the oldest major championship in America.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tip of the week: Grip

As we get closer to the New Year, taking a look at some basics can help your golf game stay consistent.

Some miscues often happen before ever beginning the backswing.

Here's a tip from world-renowned teacher, David Leadbetter, who is a Bradenton resident and has the famous IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy in his name:

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seath Lauer's game continues to grow

Seath Lauer during a West Florida Golf Tour event in Sept./photo by Paul Videla/pvidela@bradenton.com

Despite not gaining entry onto the PGA Tour for the 2011 season, Seath Lauer's first full year in the professional ranks has promise.

That's because Lauer advanced from pre-qualification all the way to the final stage of the grueling PGA Tour Q-School.

Progressing that far has given Lauer some fortuitous aide in the form of financial help.

"I've signed with an agent and I've done that move," Lauer said. "A lot of things have come about it, because a lot of people look at it in terms of it being my first year. And how many first-year guys out of college never would make it that far ... I've definitely seen some doors open already."

Lauer said his plan is to Monday qualify for Nationwide Tour events and make a few dollars early to set himself up for the remainder of 2011.

In other words, getting off to a hot start to secure exemptions into additional tournaments down the road.

To read more about Lauer, visit "Lakewood Ranch's Lauer pursues pro golf career."

And if you'd like a visual aide on how important Lauer was during his senior year at Florida State, then check out the following video:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2011 Golf Guide available now

Tis the season for golf. The annual Bradenton Herald Golf Guide, that is.

Here's what is inside the hard copy:

A course directory, a trivia contest and some stories on fitness, golf clubs, golf academies and my favorite 18 holes among area courses.

The trivia contest comes with a soothing reward for the winner.

What is it?

Pick up the special edition released today to find out.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jaclyn Sweeney earns European tour card

After missing out at the LPGA Tour's final stage of Q-School, Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeeney strung five strong rounds together for entry onto the 2011 Ladies European Tour.

Sweeney, who left Arizona State early to become a professional, earned 1,100 euros following a 6-under par total at the La Manga Club in Spain to grab second place.

The former Pendleton School standout crafted a final-round 71 for a 355 total. Sweden's Caroline Hedwall took the medalist honors after 15-under par total.

Hedwall is a former NCAA Women's individual champion.

The rest of the top 30 from the LET's Q-School join Sweeney and Hedwall with tour cards for the upcoming season.

A key scoring hole for Sweeney was the South Course's No. 8.

Measuring at just 341 yards, Sweeney took advantage with birdies in two of three rounds on the short par-4.

Sweeney also capitalized with a 5-under performance on the par-5s during the week.

The first LET event is the HANDA Women's Australian Open Feb. 3-6.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jaclyn Sweeney nears European tour card

Barring a final round collapse, Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney will earn her card for the 2011 Ladies European Tour season.

Sweeney fired a 4-under par 69 on La Manga's South Course during the LET Q-School final stage in Spain, which puts the Andover, Mass. native at a 284 total - three shots off the lead.

The top 20 gain full-time status for the 2011 season. Right now, Sweeney is 12 shots clear of that cut line.

The former Pendleton School at IMG Academies and Arizona State standout posted her second 69 on the South Course for the five-round tournament.

Sweeney also has a pair of 73s, both coming on the North Course.

She's in the final group, slated to tee off No. 1 at 10:50 a.m. local time.

Sweeney recently played in the LPGA Tour's Q-School final stage at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, where the near unplayable final round conditions wreaked havoc for the field and Sweeney's round.

She finished with a 78 to miss out on one of the final conditional spots for 2011.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jaclyn Sweeney doing well in Europe

Jaclyn Sweeney's final round during LPGA Tour Q-School got swept up in the vicious winds and cold temperatures that kept scores soaring high in Daytona Beach at LPGA International.

That hasn't stopped Sweeney, a former Pendleton School and Arizona State standout, from continuing her quest to gain status somewhere for the 2011 season.

Sweeney, a native of Andover, Mass., is currently second in the Ladies European Tour Q-School through three of the five rounds at the La Manga Club in Spain.

She sits even par, six shots back of the leader, but a spot in the top 30 gains full-time status for the 2011 season.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What a year in golf for Manatee County

Professionals flock to Florida for the year-round ability to play golf.

In the past, Orlando was that hot spot. Now it seems Bradenton and the Suncoast are generating buzz as a better spot to relocate.

And why not?

Tourism is a huge revenue source for the Sunshine State, and there's more tourists visiting O-Town than Manatee County.

And Bradenton sits on the coast, which means ocean and beaches.

Add in some hidden gems on the links, and 2010 definitely has begun a shift in focus in-state from Orlando to Bradenton for golf supremacy.

Of course it helps that 2010 featured some golfing headlines emanating from Manatee County.

To read about those and more, check out: "Golf had its good and bad in 2010"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tip of the week: The Knock-Down

Some cold weather aided by gale-force winds made playing conditions pretty tough the past few days.

And since the winter season offers players those conditions and clogged up courses, here's a video tip that can help your game battle the windy elements from the IMG Leadbetter Golf Academy:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Korda passes LPGA Q-School test

Jessica Korda at this year's U.S. Women's Open/provided by McClatchy News-Service

Bradenton's Jessica Korda lost out on medalist honors at LPGA Q-School to former IMG Academies' prodigy Aree Song, but Korda still managed to gain a spot in the top 20.

Those players are granted full-time status on the LPGA Tour, although Korda said this past summer she would have to ask permission for entry due to the LPGA Tour's age restriction.

The Golf Channel's Randall Mell reports that the LPGA is granting Korda a special waiver.

Following her round of 77 in the cold, windy conditions at LPGA International in Daytona Beach on Sunday, Korda had this to say about her round to a LPGA public relations member:

"It was a tough, tough day because it was really windy, and I lost my balance about 20 times," Korda said. "But this is a dream come true."

Korda, who finished runner up in the U.S. Women's Amateur and was on the winning 2010 U.S. Curtis Cup team, then explained what her future decision would be - whether to go pro or remain an amateur:

"I knew I always wanted to turn pro, but I never thought I’d do it this year," she said. "I’ve had a really good year and I’m so glad I get to finish it out here, turning pro at LPGA Q-school."

Song garnered medalist honors with a 6-under par total for the five-round tournament.

Korda finished two strokes back of her.

Former Pendleton School and Arizona State standout, Jaclyn Sweeney, ballooned to a 78 during a difficult scoring day.

That sent Sweeney to a tie for 44th, just one shot behind the final conditional (priority list category 20) berths for the 2011 LPGA Tour season.

UNLV, IMG Academies and Big Break alum, Seema Sadekar, soared to an 82 on Sunday to take 73rd place - the last position among those making the 72-hole cut.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Korda makes her move at LPGA Q-School

Jessica Korda during the 2010 U.s. Women's Amateur/provided by McClatchy News-Service

Bradenton's Jessica Korda opened with a pair of 72s at the LPGA Tour's Q-School in Daytona Beach.

Then the 17-year-old amateur shot up the leaderboard with Friday's third round.

Korda blitzed the Legends Course at LPGA International - her second time around the track in the five-round tournament - with a 6-under 66.

She's tied for second place with former IMG Academies phenom Aree Song.

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney carded a 75 and is at 5-over par, which places her in a tie for 44th after day three.

Former UNLV standout and IMG Academies student Seema Sadekar is further down the leaderboard in a tie for 63rd.

Sadekar shot a third-round 74, while playing the Champions Course, to post an 8-over 224 total through 54 holes.

Sadekar and Song's fellow IMG Academies alum, Virada Nirapathpongporn, was disqualified following Wednesday's opening round.

Play continues Saturday and concludes Sunday.

The top 20 gain full-time LPGA Tour status for the 2011 season.

Korda said over the summer if she qualifies, then she'll have to appeal to play the tour based on the age eligibility requirement, since she won't turn 18 until after the new year.

Here's Korda in a slideshow YouTube video:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Candie Kung makes a visit with junior golfers

Candie Kung from the LPGA Tour's website

Candie Kung earned almost $300,000 with one top ten finish on the LPGA Tour this season.

While players battle it out at the LPGA Tour's Q-School final stage this week, Kung was able to relax a bit by dropping in on the Missing Link Golf Academy students at the Legacy Golf Club.

The daily fee course in Lakewood Ranch is the home venue for the academy that John Hulbert started.

Hulbert said his brother Mike, a PGA Tour veteran and current Champions Tour member, and other pros like Kung routinely stop by to impart their wisdom on the junior golfers, with Mike Hulbert making a visit at least once a month.

To read about how the area players did on day one of the five-round final stage of LPGA Q-School, check out The Bradenton Herald's Thursday edition.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tiger Woods still isn't back

Tiger Woods from The Barclay's tournament in August/provided by McClatchy News-Service

His spot atop the world golf rankings already vanished, but Tiger Woods still had a chance to reclaim the tag as the game's best player with a victory in the Chevron World Challenge coupled with Lee Westwood not finishing in the top two on Sunday.

However, Woods failed in his bid for his first victory in more than a year, while Westwood dusted off the competition to capture the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.

What happened during Sunday's final round in California proves that Woods still isn't "back" as an elite golfer, a mere year removed from the scandal that shook the golfing world to its core.

Woods held a four-shot lead with one round left in the 18-player tourney.

Yet, Graeme McDowell was able to overcome what used to be an insurmountable lead.

The Northern Irishman capped his banner season - which included a victory at the U.S. Open - with a 20-footer for birdie on the first playoff hole in defeating El Tigre.

So what did we learn?

Tiger Woods isn't back as the unstoppable force - although he's getting closer - and McDowell is pretty darn good.

Not too many have gone toe-to-toe with Tiger and walked away with a trophy in tow.

McDowell accomplished that feat to move to No. 7 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Jim Furyk reacting to winning the Tour Championship earlier this year/provided by McClatchy News-Service

Amidst the hoopla surrounding McDowell's taming of Tiger Woods, the PGA Tour released its Player of the Year award over the weekend.

Jim Furyk was named the Player of the Year, earning the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as he beat out Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Ernie Els.

Furyk's three PGA Tour victories in 2010, second on the money list behind Kuchar and FedEx Cup title were enough to seal the Player of the Year.

Rickie Fowler was named the PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year with Jamie Lovemark taking the Nationwide Tour's Player of the Year award.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Area pros don't earn a PGA Tour card at Q-School

Ty Tryon, circa 2002, provided by McClatchy News-Service

With the PGA Tour's final stage of Q-School finishing up Monday, the several pros with Manatee County connections didn't crack the top 25.

Only those 25 players and ties earned a PGA Tour card for the upcoming 2011 season.

Here's how the area guys finished up in the six-round pressure-cooker at Orange County National's Crooked Cat and Panther Lake courses in Winter Garden (near Orlando):

Travis Hampshire finished the best with a tie for 74th.

The former U.S. Open participant, who honed his craft on the West Florida Golf Tour during its inaugural season in 2010, fired a fifth-round 65 to vault up the leaderboard.

He closed with a final round 71 on the Panther Lake Course to finish with a 2-under par, 427 total.

Ty Tryon, former IMG Academies' prodigy, crashed and burned in the final round.

Tryon dropped all the way to a tie for 114th following a 77 on the Panther Lake Course Monday.

Seath Lauer possesses long-hitting prowess, which his former Florida State teammate Tommy Rymer said was key for the Crooked Cat Course set up.

However, Lauer couldn't generate any rounds under par throughout the week and ended up near the bottom in 151st place.

Lauer finished on the Panther Lake Course, posting a 79 on Monday.

Tyler Leon
, former Saint Stephen's standout, carded a final round 77 to tie for 146th.

Michael Sims
, a West Florida Golf Tour participant, moved up to a tie for 93rd with a final round 68 on the Panther Lake Course.

Sims finished at with an even par, 429 total.

David Lutterus, the Australian native listed from Bradenton, was one shot better than Sims for the six day tourney.

Lutterus ended his quest for a PGA Tour card on the Crooked Cat Course layout with a 73 on Monday.

All the players gained at least conditional status on the Nationwide Tour, the developmental tour one notch below the PGA Tour.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

PGA Tour Q-School starts rough for area pros

Ty Tryon circa 2002 at Genuity Championship at the Doral Resort and Spa/ provided by McClatchy News-Service

Here's the scoop from the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School in Winter Garden:

Players faced windy conditions in Wednesday's opening round (scores can be found in that day's Bradenton Herald sports section).

And the cool temperatures hit the field for Thursday's second round.

The top 25 and ties earn a PGA Tour card for the 2011 season and there's a few players with area connections in the six-round tournament at Orange County National's Crooked Cat and Panther Lake courses.

Here's how they stand after Thursday's second round:

Ty Tryon, former IMG Academies' prodigy, is faring the best among the locals thus far.

Tryon had four birdies to offset three bogeys in a second-round 70 on the Panther Lake course that puts him in a tie for 53rd at even par.

Tyler Leon
, former Saint Stephen's standout, posted his second straight 74 - this time on the Crooked Cat track - to tie for 128th through 36 holes.

Leon had just three birdies in the round and is 5-over par for the tourney.

Seath Lauer, former Lakewood Ranch High standout, is struggling through two rounds.

That's a bit of a surprise given how his former Florida State teammate Tommy Rymer and West Florida Golf Tour owner Carl Wakely both labeled the Crooked Cat course as a perfect match with Lauer's bombing game.

Both Rymer and Wakely said it's a bomber's paradise.

Yet Lauer is tied for 160th out of 162 players following a 7-over 79 on day two. That round was played on the Crooked Cat course and featured five bogeys, a triple and one birdie.

Travis Hampshire, a Tampa-area pro that played in this year's U.S. Open, has played the WFGT throughout its inaugural season.

He's tied for 94th at 3-over par with a second round 72 that began on Panther Lake's No. 10.

Hampshire bogeyed three of his final four holes on his front nine, before birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 got him back to even par on the par-71 layout.

Michael Sims
, another WFGT participant, also played the Panther Lake course on day two.

He's tied for 139th after a 74 that yielded just one birdie.

David Lutterus, the Australian native listed from Bradenton, posted an even-par 72 on the Crooked Cat layout.

That puts Lutterus at 3-over par and a tie for 94th.

So to recap, unless there's some low figures soon, the area pros won't be earning a PGA Tour card for 2011.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

LPGA Tour to change female at birth requirement

The PGA Tour doesn't have a rule against women playing, but the LPGA Tour just voted against the female at birth requirement.
Picture of Annika Sorenstam at the PGA Tour's Colonial tournament in 2003/photo provided by McClatchy News-Service

The LPGA had a rule that said you had to be born a female to play on its tour.

The operative word being, "had."

That's no longer the case as the LPGA Tour's players voted for a change following a recent lawsuit that was brought up.

The Associated Press story reports, "Lana Lawless, a former police officer who had a sex change operation five years ago, filed the federal lawsuit in San Francisco in October claiming the 'female at birth' requirement violated California's civil rights law. The 57-year-old Lawless was seeking to prevent the LPGA from conducting tournaments in the state until it changed its policy."

"Lawless also sued the Long Drivers of America, which followed the LPGA policy. Lawless won the annual women's long-drive golf championship in 2008 with a 254-yard drive, but was barred from competing this year after organizers adopted the LPGA's gender rules."

While men have been barred from playing on the LPGA Tour, women have not been barred from the PGA Tour.

Annika Sorenstam famously played the Colonial - an invitational tournament on the PGA Tour.

Michelle Wie has also put her game against the men on the PGA Tour.

Colleague John Lembo and I discuss this matter in more detail in this week's Leading Off podcast, which airs Thursday.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rymer's victory part of a hot streak

Tommy Rymer is, in the immortal words of broadcaster Dan Patrick, "En fuego."

Rymer has won his last three starts on the West Florida Golf Tour, including the inaugural Tour Championship presented by the Siesta Key Pita Shack at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in east Manatee County.

He went bogey-par-par to win by a shot over three-time PGA Tour winner Robert Gamez, who missed a couple short putts on his final nine in the 27-hole event.

"I knew I was in the lead after the first round, but I didn't know how many strokes I was in the lead by," Rymer said.

Rymer missed out at the PGA Tour Q-School first stage at the Grasslands in Lakeland by one shot, when he three-putted his final hole.

It was his second attempt at Q-School.

He tried his hand for the first time following hip surgery in March 2009.

"I was out for 6 1/2 months," Rymer said. "And the reason I had it in March was so I could go to Q-School (in the fall) for the first time."

But that wasn't the lone injury that Rymer suffered.

Rymer said he threw out his back at second stage at the Hombre Golf Club in Panama City following a 1-under 71 round.

To read more about Rymer, visit "Rymer wins West Florida Golf Tour championship."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rymer wins WFGT Tour Championship

Tommy Rymer won the inaugural West Florida Golf Tour's Tour Championship presented by the Siesta Key Pita Shack.

He earned $2,500 of the $10,000 purse with the win.

The WFGT's winter season starts Dec. 1.

To read more about how Rymer secured victory, check out The Bradenton Herald's Tuesday edition.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cheap rates still around at local courses

The unofficial end to the summer golf season is Oct. 31. From November all the way through the end of April, the unofficial winter season wreaks havoc for anyone trying to play in a timely fashion.

However, it's Thanksgiving that marks the end to summer's blissful season that affords inexpensive rates and the feeling you have the entire course to yourself.

Sure, area venues have gotten busier in recent weeks, but snowbirds visit the Sunshine State at a much higher clip than other places right after the Turkey Day holiday.

So with that in mind, here's a couple good places to hit up for some discounted rates:

River Run Golf Links is home to the Bradenton City golf tournament series, which could give the notion that it costs top-dollar to play.

Not so much right now.

Players can navigate the narrow track while paying a summer rate throughout November.

Since it's a city-owned course, players are allowed to walk - and at a $12 morning rate for 18 holes, it's quite the bargain.

This isn't too far away in nearby north Sarasota, but Rolling Green Golf Club hasn't succumbed to the high-season rates just yet.

The course is offering a round for $30 plus tax in the afternoon. It's $10 more in the morning.

But the real deal-maker during the holiday season is the Big Summer Golf Card.

The discount golf card still offers some price slashing to your round of golf at certain participating courses for November and December.

And many courses offer deals through signing up as an online member for daily e-mail specials.

So talk to the PGA club pro the next time you're in the pro shop, and ask if that course offers special rates for joining as an online member.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turnesa tournament an annual success

Joe Turnesa Jr. was on hand for the annual scholarship awarded in his father's memory Monday night at Sara Bay Country Club.

Four lucky recipients, who head pro Daren King said have to write essays in addition to staying with the Greater Sarasota Junior Golf Association among other things, were awarded scholarships.

To date, 46 scholarships have been awarded to the tune of over $220,000. On Wednesday, Sara Bay membership director Gavin Darbyshire said $37,000 was raised from this year's tournament.

Turnesa Jr. joked how he'd have a different opinion on the golf swing than his famous teaching father, Joe Sr.

"He and I used to argue about the golf swing all the time," Turnesa Jr. laughingly said. "And I used to have people say to me, 'Don't argue with your father, he's a great teacher.' And (I'd say), 'Yeah right.'"

Turnesa Jr. stayed in the golf business, despite not having aspirations to play professional like his father or five of his uncles. There were seven brothers, who played golf, with Turnesa Jr.'s uncle Willie, the only one who didn't turn pro.

Willie Turnesa had an accomplished amateur career highlighted with victories in the 1938 and 1948 U.S. Amateurs and 1947 British Amateur.

Joe Turnesa Sr. played the PGA Tour - one of the first members - and won multiple events during his career that also saw him play all four majors.

He was an honorary member at Sara Bay, often teaching eager students - doing so all the way until passing away at the age of 90 back in 1991.

And the Turnesa name still lives on with the next generation as Marc Turnesa plays on the PGA Tour.

He captured a PGA Tour title in 2008. Marc Turnesa's grandfather, Mike, was a brother of Joe Turnesa Sr.

To read more about the 19th annual Joe Turnesa Memorial Scholarship Tournament, pick up Tuesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Monday, November 22, 2010

PGA Tour Q-School: Inside the numbers

Ty Tryon at PGA Tour Q-School in 2001/provided by McClatchy News-Service

PGA Tour Q-School's second stage wrapped up across six venues Saturday, with seven players, who have a some sort of a connection to Manatee County, advancing to the final stage at Orange County National's Crooked Cat and Panther courses Dec. 1-6.

Today's recap takes a magnifying glass approach to see just how they continued the quest for a PGA Tour card.

There's also a glimpse into how a couple other players' dreams vanished when they flamed out in the final round of their qualifying site.

(Note: all have played at least one West Florida Golf Tour event except Tyler Leon, Ty Tryon, David Lutterus and Jason Kokrak)

Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas (19 players and ties advanced; cut: 2-over, 290)

Former Saint Stephen's standout Tyler Leon shot 5-under over his last 54 holes, including birdies on his last two holes, to tie for 11th and secure a final stage berth.

Redstone's 73.19 scoring average plagued most of the field, but Leon grinded through with 13 birdies to offset eight bogeys and two doubles.

TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas (20 players and ties advanced; cut: 6-under, 282)

Two West Florida Golf Tour players advanced from the other Texas venue. Former Lakewood Ranch standout Seath Lauer shot a final-round 71, while former U.S. Open qualifier Travis Hampshire carded a 69 on the last day to advance.

Lauer was buoyed by a strong final nine that included birdies on Nos. 10, 11 and 18.

Hampshire finished off the tournament with his second sub-70 round. All four of his rounds were under par.

Meanwhile, Australian David Lutterus, who is listed from Bradenton, finished in a tie for second.

Lutterus stormed out to the 36-hole lead after posting 68-64. He followed that up with 70-71 to earn entry into the next phase.

Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif. (20 players and ties advanced; 2-over, 290)

The first California venue played the hardest with a 73.95 scoring average.

Yet, Michael Sims and Jason Kokrak made it through.

Sims eked his way in following back-to-back 74s. He grabbed one of the last spots with a birdie on No. 18 on the last day.

Kokrak, who won an eGolf Professional Tour event earlier this year while listed from Bradenton Beach, opened strong with a 67. His worst round came with a 73 in the final round, but the long-hitter had done enough to take a tie for sixth.

Hombre Golf Club in Panama City (19 players and ties advanced; even par, 284)

No area players made it through with Michael Schachner having a decent chance heading into the final round. However, he flamed out with an 81 that took him to a tie for 54th.

Scachner's round got off to a horrendous start. Playing the back nine to begin the last round, Schachner opened with a triple-bogey on No. 10.

He then bogeyed seven more holes, including his last four, to finish the final round without a birdie.

Sarasota's Brian Ward was the closest, jumping up to 4-over par following a final-round 69.

Joey Lamielle, the WFGT's Order of Merit leader, also played his best on the last day.

But his 70 was only good to finish at 7-over par, well behind the last qualifying positions.

The lone par-71 site played over par with a 72.44 scoring average for the tourney.

Southern Hills Plantation Club in Brooksville (19 players and ties advanced; 6-under par, 282)

Ty Tryon was the only player with a connection to the county to advance.

The former wunderkind, who turned pro at the early age of 16 in 2001, has gone through all the heartache since leaving IMG Academies for the professional life.

Tryon has a chance to gain entry on the PGA Tour after four consistent scores (70-69-72-71) in Brooksville.

Tryon bogeyed two of his last four holes, but a par on No. 18 gave him a tie for 13th - the last qualifying spot as seven players tied at 6-under par.

Lakeland's Travis Perkins had a chance to advance, but instead of shooting under par on the last day, he posted a 74.

That put him in a tie for 30th and ended his quest for a PGA Tour card for 2010.

The players getting to the final stage all get at least conditional status on the Nationwide Tour, but the real prize is full-time status as a PGA Tour member - the elite professional golf tour in the world.

Check back here prior to the final stage (Dec. 1-6) for tee times, and catch the action on The Golf Channel beginning with round four coverage.

Friday, November 19, 2010

PGA Tour Q-School's second stage nears end

The second stage of PGA Tour Q-School has ended at one venue, while the five other sites have just 18 holes remaining.

Here's how things shape up for those with a realistic shot of making it (within five shots going into Saturday's final round) and the one area player who has already advanced to the final stage. All players have played West Florida Golf Tour tournaments with the exception of former Saint Stephen's standout Tyler Leon.

Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas:

Leon became the first pro to advance when he fired a final-round 69. Only the top 19 and ties progressed, with Leon taking a tie for 11th.

TPC Craig Ranch
in McKinney, Texas:

Former Lakewood Ranch High and Florida State standout Seath Lauer is tied for 15th after slipping back with a third-round 73. Lauer is at 6-under par, with just 20 players and ties making it through.

Australian David Lutterus is still leading the other Texas venue at 14-under par. Lutterus is listed from Bradenton and is nine strokes ahead of the cut line for progression.

Travis Hampshire is at 7-under par to tie for 11th, just two strokes inside the cut.

Chris Damiano needs to make up a little ground following a 71 that puts him at 4-under par and a tie for 23rd.

Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif:

Michael Sims is tied for 26th and at even par heading into his final round. Only the top 20 and ties make the final stage. Sims is one shot behind the cut line.

Hombre Golf Club in Panama City:

Michael Schachner is the lone WFGT player who is within five shots of the last qualifying spots. He's four strokes back after a third-round 68 puts him in tie for 31st.

Southern Hills Plantation Club in Brooksville:

With just 19 places and ties gaining entry to the final stage, Travis Perkins is the lone WFGT player that has a chance to make it through.

Perkins is tied for 12th at 5-under par. He shot a third-round 69, but the margin of error is narrow - because Perkins is right on the current cut line. One mistake could cost the Lakeland resident a trip to the final stage.

Former PGA Tour pros Grant Waite and Robert Gamez both withdrew from the second Florida venue.

All the players are striving to get to the six-round final stage, which is played this year at Orange County National's Crooked Cat and Panther courses near Orlando Dec. 1-6.

From there, the grueling test will determine who earns a PGA Tour card and who has to wait another year.

Check out last year's highlights from the following video:

Tiger Woods changed?

Photo of Woods in 2009 provided by McClatchy News-Service

Tiger Woods says he's a changed person.

He recently went on ESPN's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" and explained how his kids are his top priority.

Woods also added another dimension to how he can get accessed, when he posted his first tweet on the social networking site, Twitter.

At face value, this looks like a calculated effort to steer attention away from the media frenzy that's sure to ask questions about the former No. 1-ranked golfer as the anniversary of his soap-opera scandal looms.

It was last year's Thanksgiving Day holiday that Woods crashed his car and the litany of women came out of the woodwork claiming to have had an affair with El Tigre.

Arguably the biggest sports story in the last 10 years erupted across every conceivable media platform, and every so-called expert has weighed in on the matter.

Woods just capped a 2010 season that yielded zero victories for the first time since turning pro in 1996.

Questions about whether the phenom can surpass Jack Nicklaus' record-setting mark of 18 major championships emerged following the scandal and his lack of form upon returning to the PGA Tour after a self-imposed hiatus.

But perhaps yours truly is wrong, and Woods truly has changed his nature.

Twitter could be a resource for Woods in repairing his damaged image, but only if he allows fans inside his guarded nature.

ESPN's Jason Sobel writes, Woods should use "social media much in the same way players like Stewart Cink and Ian Poulter have embraced the phenomenon. Answer questions from fans -- and not just one-word responses. Post some photographs. Tell a joke. Anything, really, that elicits an emotional response should be seen as a positive at this point."

I couldn't agree more and only time will tell.

But before spinning the clock forward, rewinding to the past shows Woods is an unstoppable force when in peak form:

PGA Tour Q-School shaping up for some

Once again, an update from the PGA Tour's second stage of Q-School at various venues.

All players have played at least one event on the West Florida Golf Tour, with the exception of former Saint Stephen's and Oklahoma State standout Tyler Leon.

Five of the six sites are halfway through the 72 hole tournament. Players advance to the final stage, slated for the first week in December.

Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas, 19 qualifying positions and ties:

Leon has the best chance of progressing with a third-round 72 that puts the former Falcons golfer in 22nd place. Josh McCumber (tie for 50th) and Brett Bergeron (tie for 59th) need to go super low with just one round remaining.

TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, 20 qualifying positions and ties:

Bradenton represents the top of the leaderboard with former Lakewood Ranch standout Seath Lauer in a tie for third. Lauer shot a 67 in the second round, while Australian David Lutterus, who is listed from Bradenton, holds the 36-hole lead following a 64.

Travis Hampshire is tied for sixth after a 67. Chris Damiano is tied for 25th following a 68.

Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif.; 20 qualifying positions and ties:

Michael Sims carded a 2-under par 70 to tie for 18th.

Bayonet Course in Seaside, Calif.; 19 qualifying positions and ties:

Brennan Webb shot 74 and is tied for 47th through 36 holes.

Hombre Golf Club
in Panama City; 19 qualifying positions and ties:

Sarasota's Brian Ward posted a 1-over 72 to tie for 29th. Fellow Sarasotan Joey Lamielle is in a tie for 45th following a 73, while Michael Schachner is tied for 45th after a 72.

Southern Hills Plantation Club in Brooksville; 19 qualifying positions and ties:

Former PGA Tour winner Grant Waite posted another 72 to tie for 47th. Fellow former PGA Tour winner Robert Gamez improved on his opening round 81 with a second-round 70. But he's well back of the pack in 72nd place.

Travis Perkins is in a tie for 27th after a 72. Joe Monte is tied for 66th after his second consecutive 74.

Check back here on Friday for continued updates and tracking of these players in their quest for a PGA Tour card.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PGA Tour Q-School update

Here's a look at how the West Florida Golf Tour players are faring at the various second stage sites for the PGA Tour's Q-School. There's two Texas, California and Florida sites, with different qualifying berths into the final stage in December dependent on field size:

Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas; 19 places and ties advance; through 36 of the 72 holes:

Josh McCumber and Brett Bergeron sit outside the cut line.

So does former Saint Stephen's and Oklahoma State standout Tyler Leon, who carded a 2-under par 70 to get into a tie for 27th after the second round.

Leon doesn't play the WFGT and is faring the best among those at Redstone, as McCumber (74-75) and Bergeron (74-74) are tied for 45th and tied for 39th, respectively.

TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas; 20 places and ties advance; through 18 of 72 holes:

Former Lakewood Ranch High and Florida State standout Seath Lauer fired a 2-under 70 to take a share of 17th place.

Travis Hampshire, the mini-tour pro who played in this year's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, posted a 71 to tie for 32nd.

Chris Damiano carded a 73 for a tie for 53rd following his opening round.

Bear Creek Golf Club
in Murrieta, Calif.; 20 places and ties advance; through 18 of 72 holes:

Michael Sims shot an even par 72 for a tie for 27th.

Bayonet Course in Seaside, Calif.; 19 places and ties advance; through 18 of 72 holes:

Brennan Webb carded an even par 72 to tie for 34th.

Hombre Golf Club
in Panama City; 19 places and ties advance; through 18 of 72 holes:

Sarasota's Brian Ward posted a 2-over 73 to tie for 31st. Fellow Sarasotan Joey Lamielle is in a tie for 50th following a 75, while Schachner is tied for 59th after a 76.

Southern Hills Plantation Club
in Brooksville; 19 places and ties advance; through 18 of 72 holes:

Former PGA Tour winner Grant Waite is tied for 52nd after a 72. Fellow former PGA Tour winner Robert Gamez is in dead-last after his 81 in the 73-player field.

Travis Perkins shot 70 to put the Lakeland resident into a tie for 29th. Joe Monte is tied for 66th after his 74.

Be sure to check back here throughout the rest of the week for continued updates and tracking of these players in their quest for a PGA Tour card.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PGA Tour Q-School second stage begins

The West Florida Golf Tour, the lone mini-tour along Florida's Gulf Coast, has multiple players in the PGA Tour's second stage of Q-School.

Chris Damiano, Travis Hampshire and former Lakewood Ranch High standout Seath Lauer are at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.

Sarasota's Joey Lamielle and Brian Ward, as well as Michael Schachner play their second stage at Hombre Golf Club in Panama City.

Former PGA Tour winners Grant Waite and Robert Gamez, along with Joe Monte and Travis Perkins will duel it out at Southern Hills at Brooksville - the other Florida venue.

Meanwhile, Brennan Webb (Bayonet Course in Seaside, Calif.) and Michael Sims (Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif.) are the lone WFGT members at those sites.

All of those venues run Nov. 17-20.

WFGT players Josh McCumber and Brett Bergeron already are underway in their second stage at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.

Both players are tied for 30th after opening 74s on the par-72 layout.

Also playing there is former Saint Stephen's and Oklahoma State standout Tyler Leon, who carded a 4-over 76 to tie for 49th after Day One.

Check back here for continued tracking of how these players do in their quest to gain entry on the PGA Tour.

After second stage comes the final hurdle - the grueling final stage in December - before players win a PGA Tour card for the 2011 season.

And if your golf appetite needs appeasing, then visit The Bradenton Herald's Tuesday edition for "Canadian duo wins Pro-Am at Legacy Golf Club" which outlines the inaugural RBC Bank Challenge and it's $10,000 first-place prize.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Aaron Bishop wins first title at River Run

Aaron Bishop got the proverbial monkey off his back with a four shot victory over runner-up Phil Walters, who closed with a 65 to post 138 in the 13th Annual City of Bradenton Men's Amateur.

Lakewood Ranch High junior Connor Baldwin finished third after a final round 69 on the par-70 track.

Bishop's first-ever individual crown is documented in Tuesday'
s Bradenton Herald edition. You can view the story online at"Bishop wins first ever title at River Run"

To check out the full listing of results from the two-day, 36-hole tournament, please visit River Run's website here

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pairings set for Bradenton City Amateur

The pairings for the first round of the 2010 Bradenton City Amateur are set.

The 36-hole tournament begins Saturday and wraps up Sunday.

Brian Schmidt, the defending champion, is not returning to this year's event after turning pro the week following his triumph at the Sarasota City Amateur.

Schmidt said it was a tremendous honor winning both tournaments last year, which helped make his decision to turn pro a bit easier.

To read more about the upcoming tournament visit, "Current champ won't defend title"

And to check out the pairings for the first round, visit River Run Golf Links' site here

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Westwood proves he's not a one-trick pony

Lee Westwood at The Masters, photo provided by McClatchy News Service

Some musings from last week's fight for No. 1:

Lee Westwood proved he wasn't a one-week wonder atop the world rankings.

The Englishman finished just one shot behind winner Francesco Molinari at the World Golf Champions HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China.

Four players had a chance to become No. 1, including Americans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Germany's Martin Kaymer was the other play aside from Westwood, who had a chance at No. 1.

Neither Woods, Mickelson or Kaymer had a legitimate chance heading into Sunday's final round, because Westwood was near the top of the leaderboard.

The Englishman carded a final round 67 to finish the tournament at 18-under par.

Another note, the tournament was a success for Woods in the sense that he finished in a tie for sixth.

However, El Tigre wrapped up his disappointing year without a victory for the first time since he turned pro back in 1996.

He also was crushed in the Thailand Skins Game that Camilo Villegas triumphed in.

Woods won just one skin in the one-day tournament in his mother's home country.

Now he's off to the Australian Masters, site of his last victory - one year ago.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Banner year for Lakewood Ranch boys

Photo provided

The Lakewood Ranch Mustangs golf team had quite the run this year, eventually earning the highest finish in the program's brief history.

Coach Dave Frantz has been there since 1998 and he says this season's squad is the best he's had Ranch.

However, he points to the 1990 Southeast team he guided as an equal adversary to his current lot.

Just like the 2010 Mustangs, those 1990 Noles finished runner-up in the state.

Click the following link to read more about "Mustangs golfers pleased with season"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lakewood Ranch boys team comes close

The FHSAA state finals finished Wednesday as Lakewood Ranch's boys team was the lone Manatee County squad that qualified.

Braden River's Kristen Swindell (Class 2A) and Saint Stephen's Yvonne Zheng (Class 1A) earned top-15 finishes in the state championships on the girls side, but no girls team had qualified for the state tourney.

The Mustangs secured runner-up honors following a 294 on the second day, with junior Connor Baldwin carding the team's lowest round of the day with a 71.

Freshman Danny Walker won a state championship after a final round 72, despite the team coming up short in its quest for a title.

To read more about the Mustangs, visit: "Mustangs' Walker claims state title

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Brennan Webb stays hot on the West Florida Golf Tour

Photo of Brennan Webb provided by the West Florida Golf Tour

Former Nationwide Tour player Brennan Webb edged a strong field at the West Florida Golf Tour's event at the TPC at Tampa Bay Wednesday.

Webb carded a 68 for a one-shot victory over a field that featured four former PGA Tour winners.

They were: Grant Waite, Robert Gamez, Eric Axley and Garrett Willis.

Webb's birdie on the last secured the win and a $1,000 check.

His latest victory further cements his spot near the top of the WFGT's Order of Merit standings.

Webb is fresh off advancing to the PGA Tour Q-School's Second Stage.

He joins fellow WFGT particpants Chris Damiano, Joey Lamielle, Josh McCumber, Brian Ward, Joe Monte, Travis Perkins, Michael Sims, Brett Bergeron, Travis Hampshire, Seath Lauer, Michael Schachner and Gamez into the second stage next month.

Waite is also in the second stage as an exempt player from the previous qualifying stages.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Westwood is the new No. 1

Lee Westwood at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this year, photo provided by McClatchy News Service

Lee Westwood
is the new No. 1 player in the world, and he hasn't won a major yet.

Despite the tag as the "best-player-never-to-win-a-major," Westwood isn't alone in becoming No. 1 without one of the top prizes in golf dotting his resume.

The Englishman is the fourth player - after Ian Woosnam, Fred Couples and David Duval - to become the world's best player without a major championship.

And good news, all three of the previous touring pros would later etch their names into golf history with major victories.

Woosnam and Couples earned green jackets for triumphs at The Masters, while Duval won the Claret Jug en route to the British Open title.

Westwood has sniffed that elusive maiden major several times, including runner-up finishes at the 2010 Masters and British Open.

To read more about Westwood taking over for Tiger Woods as the No. 1-ranked player in the world, click the following link: "Commentary: Tiger's fall appeared unlikely"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Imada shoots 97 after 26-stroke penalty

Photo of Imada at Bay Hill provided by McClatchy News Service

This whole not checking the local rules and costing yourself spiel is becoming old hat real quick.

The latest in the summer of rules infractions among touring pros happened this past weekend.

The Golf Channel has reported that Ryuji Imada was assessed a 26-stroke penalty, because he failed to read the local rules sheet.

The conditions on the Blackstone Course at the Mission Hills Star Trophy in China were soft, so
players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls.

The Golf Channel report says Imada assumed he was allowed one club length to replace his ball, which is standard on the PGA Tour.

However, the local rule was within one scorecard, which is customary for the European and Asian Tours.

Imada was then hit with 13 two-stroke penalties for breach of the rule, according to The Golf Channel report.

Dustin Johnson had a playoff spot in this year's PGA Championship taken away for grounding his club in a bunker at Whistling Straits.

However, the controversy surrounding the infraction was centered on whether or not it was a bunker since the gallery had trampled down the area all week.

Juli Inkster was called out by a viewer at an LPGA event due to swinging a weighted club - a no-no - while waiting to tee off during a super-long wait, since play was backed up.

Jim Furyk was disqualified from one of the FedEx Cup tournaments, because he overslept his alarm clock and missed the tee time for the pro-am event.

The moral of the story? Read, read and read some more prior to playing any tournament.

Click "Imada penalized 26 strokes" to read the full story.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sam Osborne in danger at PGA Tour Q-School

WFGT player Sam Osborne tees off during his victory at the Legacy Golf Club. Photo provided by the WFGT.

Sam Osborne's chances of gaining a PGA Tour card are slipping away faster than a downhiller at Augusta National on Masters Sunday.

The Englishman, who resides in Palmetto while in Florida, ballooned to a 76 in his second round of PGA Tour Q-School's first stage at The Auburn University Club in Alabama.

The death knell to Osborne's round came on the par-5 seventh.

He triple bogeyed the hole. Since he started the day off No. 10, Osborne had only two holes remaining to make up for the miscue.

He'll need two consecutive strong days to crack the top 23, which gains advancement to the second stage.

Right now, Osborne is in a tie for 43rd place.

To read more about Osborne, click the following link: "England native takes on Q-School"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lauer and Revell missed the cut at Nationwide Tour stop

Former Lakewood Ranch High standout Seath Lauer and Lakewood Ranch resident Brad Revell didn't make the cut in the Nationwide Tour's Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open this past week at Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Lauer shot a 2-over 72 in round one, before struggling to a 77 that featured eight bogeys and just one birdie.

Lauer ended up with two birdies over the two rounds, while bogeying 11 holes.

His length was there - Lauer averaged 319 yards off the tee - but he found just 60.7 percent of fairways.

Consequently, he hit 66.7 greens in regulation - not a bad number - but he had 33.5 putts per round.

For Revell, a native Canadian, he had too many big numbers.

Revell had three double bogeys in two days that accounted for his 72 and 75 in the first two rounds, and a missed cut.

Revell didn't record a birdie on day two.

His trouble stemmed from not hitting enough greens (just 50 percent over two rounds).

WFGT quartet make second stage

WFGT golfers moved past the PGA Tour's Q-School First Stage at Grasslands Golf & Country Club in Lakeland.

The first stage featured five venues last week and wraps up this week at eight other sites.

Lakeland's Travis Perkins and Sarasota's Brian Ward caught fire early in the four-day, 72-hole tournament.

They then held on to qualify for the second stage.

Meanwhile, Sarasota's Joey Lamielle and Fort Myers' Josh McCumber struggled in the opening round.

Both players posted 75s in round one.

But Lamielle, the WFGT's Order of Merit leader, and McCumber each ran off three consecutive rounds in the 60s to qualify.

The top 23 and ties made it among the original 78-player field.

Four players were disqualified or withdrew from the tournament.

For Lamielle, he got back into the tournament with a second-round 69.

Lamielle, a Sarasota Booker and Florida Gulf Coast University product, shaved off a stroke with a third-round 68 and followed that up with a 67 to gain a tie for 16th and a spot in the second stage.

McCumber carded 69s on days two and three. Then he dug deep and went low, with a final round 65 that gave him a berth in the second stage after a tie for 12th at the bomber's paradise known as the Grasslands.

The second stage runs in mid-November at various courses.

Following that, qualifiers make it to the final stage - the last hurdle for aspiring PGA Tour players have to jump to gain a PGA Tour card for 2011.

Wenck running hot as City Amateur approaches

Sarasota's Ray Wenck is the reigning Bradenton City Senior's champ.

And his form is peaking at the right time as the Bradenton City Men's Amateur looms.

The marquee amateur event in Manatee County is slated for Nov. 13-14 at River Run Golf Links.

Wenck is coming off victories at the Venice City Amateur and at the Sarasota City Men's Better Ball Championship.

The latter event just ended this past weekend.

Wenck partnered with Joe Clarkson and shot a pair of 67s, before winning in a playoff in the 38th annual event at Bobby Jones Golf Complex.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

WFGT players faring well with one round left at PGA Tour Q-School

Travis Perkins, a West Florida Golf Tour participant, is still leading the PGA Tour's first stage of Q-School at the Grasslands Golf & Country Club in Lakeland.

Perkins, a Lakeland resident, shot 2-under 70 in Thursday's third round to get to 16-under for the tournament.

The top 23 and ties advance to the second stage.

Sarasota's Brian Ward, a University of Tampa product and fellow WFGT player, backed up on day three with a 74.

He's at 10-under par and in a tie for sixth.

Sarasota's Joey Lamielle continues to surge. The WFGT's Order of Merit leader has rebounded after an opening round 75.

Lamielle posted a 68 in Thursday's round, which puts him two shots behind the final qualifying spots with just one round to go.

A stroke back of Lamielle is Fort Myers' resident and WFGT player Josh McCumber.

He matched Lamielle's first two rounds (75-69), before firing another 69 on Thursday.

Jamie Miller, whose form has been red-hot with a WFGT title at the difficult Old Corkscrew Golf Club in Naples recently, also sits at 3-under par for the tournament alongside McCumber in a tie for 35th.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is this the PGA Tour's Q-School or a WFGT event?

Everywhere you look on the PGA Tour Q-School's First Stage leaderboard at the Grasslands Golf & Country Club, one unifying trend is found.

So many of the players inside the Top 23 have played on the West Florida Golf Tour in its inaugural season.

WFGT player Travis Perkins is leading through two rounds at 14-under par.

Perkins, who resides in Lakeland, is right at home at the Grasslands which is in Lakeland.

Sarasota's Brian Ward is also in the mix for advancement to the second stage after an opening 63 and second round 69 puts him at 12-under par for the first 36 holes.

Several other WFGT players are in the field, including Sarasota's Joey Lamielle and Fort Myers' Josh McCumber.

Both players struggled in their opening round with 75s, but rebounded with 69s to settle for a tie for 44th.

The top 23 and ties qualify for the next stage.

A couple WFGT products playing this week's Nationwide Tour stop

Lakewood Ranch resident Brad Revell joins former Lakewood Ranch High standout Seath Lauer as Monday qualifiers for this week's Nationwide Tour event.

Revell shot 32-33--65 at Marsh Creek Country Club to earn entry for the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open at TPC Sawgrass (Dye's Valley Course).

Lauer tees off No. 10 at 2:05 p.m. today, while Revell begins the tourney at 9:30 a.m. off No. 10.

Revell is playing alongside Arnold Palmer's grandson, Sam Saunders, for the first two days.

Both players have worked their craft on the West Florida Golf Tour.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Area high schoolers still in mix for a state tournament appearance

Kudos to the area high school golfers that advanced to the regional tournaments next week.

You can read about the boys Class 1A-District 16 tournament, the boys 2A-14 and girls 2A-14 tourneys in today's Bradenton Herald.

The girls 1A-16 tournament saw Cardinal Mooney and Saint Stephen's place in the top three to advance.

The Falcons' Yi Meng Zheng won medalist honors with a 71. Out-of-Door Academy's Henriette Wistorf (86) was the lone competitor for the Thunder on Monday at Placid Lakes Country Club, but she also earned one of the three individual berths into next week's regionals.

The top three individuals not on the top three teams qualify for the regionals.

Joining Wistorf was Southeast's Katherine Duffy (108) and Arcadia DeSoto's McKayla Jeter (106).

The 1A-Region 6 tournament is at the Hideout Golf Club in Naples for both boys and girls. The girls are Monday and the boys are Tuesday.

To read about where the 2A-Region 5 tourneys are held for both boys and girls, click here.

Florida wins Southeastern Challenge Matches

Team Florida won the Southeastern Challenge Matches this past weekend at the Lost Tree Club in North Palm Beach.

The biennial Ryder Cup-styled matches pit 12-man amateur teams (eight mid-amateurs and four seniors) from Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Florida had a team total of 25 points in the two-day event to secure victory and end Georgia's five-year match winning streak.

There weren't any team members from Bradenton, with Tim Hume (Tampa) as the nearest competitor to Manatee County.

Friday, October 15, 2010

District tournaments for high schoolers set to start

District tournaments begin the postseason for high school golfers.

The Bradenton Christian boys team was out practicing at River Wilderness in Parrish on Friday ahead of Monday's Class 1B-District 16 tournament.

They're a favorite to advance to the regional tournament.

The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualified team advance closer toward a state title.

Check out Monday's edition of The Herald for the scoop on the district golf tournaments for both boys and girls teams from the area.

Bradenton golfers to invade Charlotte County Open

A couple Bradenton-based golfers are playing in this weekend's Charlotte County Open.

Jon Bullas and Stephen Sowards tee off at 12:10 p.m. Saturday in the opening round of the two-day tournament. Bullas goes off No. 1, while Sowards is off No. 10 in the first round held at Kingsway Country Club in Lake Suzy.

The tournament is in its 11th year, and it was just two years ago that Derek Lamely walked away with the crown.

Lamely is a PGA Tour player and won his first Tour event this year.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

City of Sarasota Junior Championship full results

Please find the full results from this past weekend's 12th annual City of Sarasota Junior Championship:

Bobby Jones Golf Club
2010 Jr City Championship
Final Standings
Sat. Score
Sun. Score


Sherwin, Jake 67-72--139
Baldwin, Connor 72-72--144
Visacki, Michael B. 69-76--145
Miller, Jordan 67-80--147
Johnson, Cole 71-79--150
Lee, Austin 75-77--152
Lynch, Connor 77-75--152
Shi, Jeff 82-79--161

Girls 14 and under

Polivchak, Nicole 108-117--225
Allen, Jordan 141-118--259
Romeo, Terese 0-0--0

Boys 14 and under

Burke, Bryce 70-73--143
Miller, Landry* 70-74--144
Sun, Charles 72-72--144
Knowles, Philip 75-71--146
Reith, Hunter 70-78--148
Sun, Kelly 76-75--151
Fujii, Yuki 74-78--152
Lee, Garrett 75-77--152
Liggins, Ajani 76-78--154
Celestino, Jacques 82-76--158
Barrett, Cole 86-86--172
* Won play-off

Girls 15-18

Opfer, Madison 68-69--137
Adruzova, Anastasia 77-78--155
McKenney, Katie 81-86--167
Kim, Sarah Kathleen 84-90--174
Harper, Justine 83-102--185
Fujii, Yumi 93-93--186
Hancsak, Raver 104-95--199

Boys 15 - 16

Colgate, Michael 68-73--141
Sagar, Hunter 69-73--142
Kosko, Drew 73-73--146
Fox, Mason 74-74--148
Kosko, Luke 75-73--148
Seat, Matthew 77-71--148
Benson, Kyle 75-74--149
Davis, Alden 80-74--154
Pecor, Bailey 76-78--154
Butler, Robert 74-82--156
Dill, David 79-79--158
Guthrie, Addison 78-82--160
Shi, Ken 84-87--171
Tatko, Alex 89-95--184

Waite's window closing

Grant Waite, the former PGA Tour winner, recently played in a West Florida Golf Tour event.

He's tuning up for the second stage of Q-School, where he's exempted to due to his status as a former Tour winner.

Waite said if he doesn't get back to the PGA Tour this year, he'll probably start thinking of doing something else.

That includes teaching, since Waite said he knows so much about the golf swing and the game of golf.

However, the 46-year-old New Zealand native is just four years shy of qualifying (age-wise) for the Champions Tour.

And Waite says he wouldn't rule that out or anything else, since he can't read the future.

To read the full story on Waite from Tuesday's edition of The Herald, click here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Waite visits Manatee County for a WFGT event

The West Florida Golf Tour's stop at the Legacy Golf Club on Friday attracted a decent-sized field.

And among the players on the east Manatee County track was none other than former PGA Tour winner Grant Waite.

The New Zealand native resides in Ocala and ventured down to Lakewood Ranch to play the WFGT in preparation for the upcoming grind at Q-School.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2010 Manatee County Championship full results

Here are the results from last Saturday's Manatee County Championship (boys high school):

Rosedale Golf and Country Club
Host: Lakewood Ranch Oct. 2, 2010

Front Back 18

Bayshore Record: N/A
Tim Williams 69 67 136
Cameron Powell 61 64 125
TOTAL: No Team Total

Bradenton Christian Record: 16-5
Jack Lyerly 36 37 73
Jordan Miler 36 37 73
Philip Knowles 39 37 76
Landry Miller 44 40 84
Johnny Weichel 48 44 92
Duncan Sikkema 55 57 112
TOTAL: 155 151 306

Braden River Record: 10-9
Austin Acklin 36 44 80
Tony Osborn 42 45 87
Ryan Hintze 56 49 105
Alec Neuzal 44 39 83
Tyler Coleman 47 43 90
Dakota Bosch 58 52 110
TOTAL: 169 171 340

Lakewood Ranch Record: 23-4
Danny Walker 38 40 78
Ramsey Touchberry 34 37 71
Connor Baldwin 37 38 75
Kyle Benson 38 38 76
Dylan Hogan 41 44 85
Mitch Blanco 42 42 84
TOTAL: 147 153 300

Manatee Record: 7-8
Nick O'Neil 41 42 83
Adam Smith 49 40 89
Sai Gadam 40 50 90
Brett Rocklein 55 45 100
Jonathan Woods 44 44 88
Matt Stephens 49 59 108
TOTAL: 174 171 345

Palmetto Record: 4-9
Ben Durrance 64 58 122
Ryan Bell 50 62 112
Mike Berky 60 51 111
Tony Berky 58 59 117
Tyler Free 63 63 126
Matthew Pletcher 66 71 137
TOTAL: 245 231 476

Saint Stephen's Record: 8-9
Sean Kelly 38 41 79
Oliver Vaidas 40 40 80
Eddie McQuisten 40 43 83
Jack Cen 41 39 80
Ethan Hill DNS
Jarred Delrose 50 50 100
TOTAL: 159 163 322

Southeast Record: 7-9
Ryan Wolfe 40 37 77
Nick Lowery 46 41 87
Bryan Robinson 54 49 103
Matt Fenske 45 49 94
Matt Hardy 52 60 112
Nick Fenske 61 62 123
TOTAL: 183 176 359

TEAM WINNER: Lakewood Ranch - 300

INDIVIDUAL WINNER: Ramsey Touchberry

TEAM RUNNERS-UP: Bradenton Christian

1 Ramsey Touchberry LR 71
2 Jack Lyerly BCS 73
3 Jordan Miller BCS 73
4 Connor Baldwin LR 75
5 Kyle Benson LR 76
6 Philip Knowles BCS 76

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hally Leadbetter wins a Leadbetter Tour event

Bradenton's Hally Leadbetter won the girls 15-18 year old age division in the recent IMG Leadbetter Junior Golf Tour stop at the Naples Grande Golf Club.

Leadbetter, whose world-renowned teaching father David, took down the 36-hole tourney with a 148 total.

The left-hander edged Gemma Dryburgh by a shot.

Leadbetter matched Dryburgh with four consecutive pars to end the tournament after back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 put a dent in her lead and jeopardized the chance to win the title.

However, the strong finish coupled with Dryburgh's inability to birdie any of the final four holes sealed a one-stroke victory for Leadbetter, whose father's name is attached with the tour.

Dublin, Ireland native Keagan Cummings blitzed the boys 15-18 year old division with a 5-under par 137 total.

Cummings carded a final round 65 for a seven-shot win.

Bradenton's Rigel Fernandes finished in third in that age division.

There was a boys 11-14 and girls 11-14 age division, which featured two and three competitors in each, respectively.

Some final thoughts on the Ryder Cup

Apologies to loyal blog followers for not getting this out sooner, but here are my final thoughts on the Ryder Cup that ended Monday:

1. Let's not stage the Ryder Cup so late (October) in the United Kingdom again.

The biennial matches ultimately had to be finished on Monday for the first time ever, since constant rain halted action on the first day, which set the entire schedule back a bit.

2. Get adjusted faster.

The old cliche is putt for dough and drive for show. That's never more evident than at big-time tournaments, where the winner is usually decided by who has the hot hand with the flatstick.
The United States is a team built with PGA Tour players, who are all accustomed to fast greens.
Since it was Europe's turn to host, Celtic Manor's greens looked as fast as a shaggy carpet.
To be fair, it's hard to get the greens lightning quick in Wales in October (see No. 1 for this issue). But that doesn't mean the American players can't get themselves adjusted and acclimated better and quicker.
One of the things, aside from consistency, that separates PGA Tour pros from other golfers is the ability to adapt to different conditions on the fly.

3. Kudos to Rickie Fowler

The PGA Tour rookie has zero career wins, yet he was selected with a captain's pick to join the team.
For the first few sessions, his inclusion on the team looked like a complete bust.
But then something remarkable happened in the singles match on Monday, and the United States benefited by having a chance at the end to escape Wales with the Ryder Cup in tow.
It was a coming-of-age moment for the phenom Fowler, where he closed with four straight birdies, stealing a crucial half point like the way John Dillinger used to rob banks.

4. Amazing finish

After Fowler's unfathomable comeback to garner a half point, Hunter Mahan had all the weight on his shoulders for Team USA.
Graeme McDowell had it on his for the Europeans.
Who would buckle first?
It didn't hurt that McDowell was 2-up with two to play, but the Northern Irishman turned it on just enough – thanks to a gravity defying putt that snuck in the bottom shelf on No. 16 – to down Mahan and regain the Ryder Cup for Europe.
Not a bad finish for anyone playing hooky from school or work that was able to watch.
And I must admit, that McDowell sure looked like he wanted the pressure.
Boy, did he thrive. I guess that's what happens when you play near-mistake free golf en route to a United States Open victory at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.

5. Speaking of that finish...

... I could, and have, done the same exact thing as Mahan with that chip shot.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baek has work to do

Bradenton's Sookhee Baek needs to go low at the Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice on Friday.

It's the final round of the 72-hole LPGA Sectional Qualifier.

Only the top 30 and ties advance to Q-School's final stage in Daytona Beach at LPGA International in December.

So far, Baek is tied for 58th after a third round 76.

That round puts her at 13-over par for a 229 total with just one round to go.

If you missed the story on her road to recovery from the car accident she was in six years ago, click here

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Team USA retains Junior Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup's countdown is winding down, but the Junior Ryder Cup is already here.

Doris Chen and Ginger Howard, two IMG Academies' golfers, are representing Team USA against Europe at The Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland.

The venue is the a preview for the main attraction, albeit down the road.

Gleneagles is the host site to the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Team USA took a 9-3 edge after Monday's opening day, with Chen and Howard featured in this photo.

The squad used the first day lead in holding off a European comeback bid with a solid second day.

The result is Team USA retaining the Junior Ryder Cup with a 13 1/2 to 10 1/2 victory.

The players aren't finished yet, as they'll embark south to Wales and Celtic Manor on Thursday to participate with their elder statesman in the game.

The Ryder Cup begins Friday and finishes Sunday.