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.