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

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Monday Recap: Gamez and Korda

Bradenton's Jessica Korda had another rough week during her rookie campaign on the LPGA Tour.

Korda, who is now 18, began the season playing in the no-cut invitational events during the LPGA Tour's Asia swing.

This past week, she broke par in the third round of the HSBC Women's Champions for the first time in the 2011 season.

However, that did little to quell her struggle to begin the year as she finished 9-over par for the tournament after a final round 78.

Meanwhile, Robert Gamez, who recently broke the Waterlefe Golf & River Club's course record with a 61 in a West Florida Golf Tour event, got into the field at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

The PGA Tour event was opposite the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship that featured the top-ranked players in the world.

Despite that, the Mayakoba still had a nice field with a couple 2011 PGA Tour winners competing.

Gamez, who is multiple PGA Tour winner, came out of the shoot with a 69-68 to earn a spot on the weekend and a guaranteed payday.

However, Gamez couldn't break 70 the last two days and settled for a tie for 50th.

Still, though, he won $8,855.34 for his 3-under par, 281 total.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tip of the week: Iron play

This week's tip features those pesky approach shots. Sure, everyone loves hitting the driver. But it's the iron play that can give yourself a birdie chance or send you searching for the golf ball off the green.

So check out this video from Bradenton resident and world-renowned teacher David Leadbetter:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NCAA Central District Invitational Notes

Former Bradenton Prep standout Caramia Sitompul played for Michigan. Photo by Grant Jeffries/Bradenton Herald

Some tidbits from today's final round at the NCAA Central District Invitational at River Wilderness:

  • The 8 a.m. shotgun was delayed 20 minutes due to heavy fog.
  • Because the start time was pushed back, one team left pretty quick after the round. That team was Iowa State, who turned in the scorecards and grabbed a box lunch before bolting for the flight.
  • Speaking of the Cyclones, they won the event so their hardware is coming via mail.
  • About 45-50 homes were used in the golf course community to house the players and coaches for the past few days. It took on what head pro Jack McFaul called, "a sorority type event." That camaraderie between the teams and members was a neat wrinkle as players and coaches didn't stay in hotels like other college tourneys.
  • Russ Petrie, a Michigan State alumnus and River Wilderness member, said he'd like to have an alumni event from the schools participating in next year's event. It would run just before the two-day, 54-hole tournament commences.
  • McFaul said the dates for the 12th edition are already set for President's Day weekend, 2012.

To read more about who won the individual portion and other information on this story, check out Wednesday's Bradenton Herald.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Monday Recap: Two different rookie results

Jaclyn Sweeney practices at IMG Academies. Photo by Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald

Bradenton's Jessica Korda and Jaclyn Sweeney are on two different pro circuits for their rookie campaigns.

But both played this past week, albeit with different results.

Korda, making her LPGA Tour debut, didn't break par in four rounds during the Honda LPGA Thailand.

Korda soared to a 78 in the third round, ultimately finishing at 11-over 299.

However, the invitational-based tournament didn't offer a cut, so every player cashed.

Korda's debut earned her $5,494 and a tie for 51st.

Meanwhile, Sweeney rebounded from a rough start at the Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open - her third straight Ladies European Tour start.

The Andover, Mass. native opened with a 78 but responded with a 2-under 70 to make the cut by one shot.

Sweeney made good on her fortuitous break with a scorching 67 in the final round to vault up the leaderboard.

Her fourth round performance included a 6-under 30 on the front nine. Sweeney's Sunday charge yielded 2,500 Euros and a tie for 20th.

The LET doesn't play again until the end of March.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jessica Korda fires another over-par round

Jessica Korda in last year's U.S. Women's Open as an amateur that Paula Creamer won/courtesy of McClatchy-News Service

Bradenton's Jessica Korda fired a second consecutive 1-over 73, which places her in a tie for 31st in her LPGA Tour debut.

The rookie is playing the Honda LPGA Thailand, an invitational tournament.

Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club honorary member Paula Creamer is also in the field.

Creamer, dubbed the Pink Panther, is in better shape than Korda.

Creamer carded a 70 in Friday's second round. She's tied for fourth, three strokes behind leader I.K. Kim.

Kim backed up with a 73 after blitzing the course with a 63 in Thursday's opening round.

Korda tees off at 9:36 a.m. (local time) for Saturday's third round.

City Men's Senior Two-Man field set

The third annual City of Bradenton Men's Senior Two-Man Championship kicks off Saturday at River Run Golf Links.

The first-round pairings have already been released.

For more on the tournament, check out Saturday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jessica Korda off to slow start on LPGA Tour

Jessica Korda at the 2010 U.S. Women's Open/courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune Services

Jessica Korda's LPGA Tour debut wasn't as scintillating as the Bradenton 17-year-old has been known to do on the golf course.

Korda opened the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament with a 1-over par 73.

She's 10 shots behind I.K. Kim, who carded a scorching 9-under 63.

Korda bagged four birdies, but offset those with five bogeys.

After the first day, Korda sits in a tie for 32nd out of the 60-player field.

Her second-round tee time is 9:51 p.m. EST.

College golf returns to Manatee County

College golf hits Manatee County early next week, with the Central District Invitational coming to River Wilderness Golf and Country Club in Parrish.

Michigan State's women's team plays host for the two-day event that begins Feb. 21 and concludes Feb. 22.

Arkansas, Baylor, Indiana, Iowa State, Kent State, LSU, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, TCU and Texas A&M are scheduled to compete against the Spartans.

Former Saint Stephen's standout Chelsea Pezzola plays for the Wolverines.

IMG Academies has three former students making the return trip to the area.

They are Sophie Hayashi (Indiana), Innapha Tantanavivat (Northwestern) and Susana Benavides (Ohio State).

Bradenton Prep has two former students playing. They are Caramia Sitompul (Michigan) and So-Hyun Park (Notre Dame).

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Monday Recap: Who is it?

Take a look at the following player profiles (names removed) and see if you can guess who it is:

Player A - Has failed to break par on the weekend in two consecutive tournaments. In the process of playing poorly in the last 36 holes, Player A has only finished as high as a tie for 20th in those tourneys.

Player B - Won consecutive weeks with the worst score posted was a 71. So dominant that Player B made over $2.3 million for the victories that featured six rounds in the 60s, including a blistering 63.

So who is Player A and who is Player B?

OK, times up...

...it's a trick question, because both answers are the same person - Tiger Woods.

My how the mighty have fallen. Player A is Woods from the past two weeks, while Player B is Woods from August 2009, where he won the Buick Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in back-to-back weeks.

Aside from a missed cut at the 2009 British Open, El Tigre never finished worse than a tie for 17th that season.

In fact, that tie for 17th came in his season debut after recovering from the knee injury that last saw him winning the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg.

Fast-forward to 2011 and Tiger's game has given glimpses into what he used to have.

He's played well in the opening two rounds in the last two tournaments, but failed to peak on the weekend as someone other than himself walked away with a trophy in tow.

Tiger's aura of invincibility is gone, unlike his pre-scandal form.

But the main thing that is probably lacking is his mental game, which is what separated him from the rest of the PGA Tour.

As a result, Woods has dipped to No. 3 in the world rankings.

Jaclyn Sweeney during a practice session at IMG Academies. Photo by Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald.

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney's second Ladies European Tour start didn't generate another paycheck.

Sweeney struggled in Australia for the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters last week.

She shot 73-74 in the first two rounds to miss the cut. Yani Tseng eventually won the event to elevate herself to No. 1 in the world.

Sweeney scored better in the opening round, despite hitting fewer greens in regulation than she did in the second round.

The former Arizona State standout hit just seven GIRs on Day One, while missing only four greens on Friday.

However, those four missed greens added up to four bogeys in the round.

She'll look to right the ship with her third straight tournament in Oceania, as the LET heads to New Zealand for the Pegasus New Zealand Women's Open this week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Robert Gamez sets course record

Robert Gamez chips during a 2010 WFGT event. Photo by Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald

Former multiple PGA Tour winner Robert Gamez is having quite the start to the 2010-11 West Florida Golf Tour's winter season.

Gamez currently is atop the Order of Merit and has won three times.

But it was his last victory that is arguably the most impressive.

Gamez played Wednesday's event in blistering fashion - posting 10 birdies, an eagle, a bogey and four pars through 16 holes.

A birdie-birdie finish would equal a golfer's dream - 59.

However, he closed with two pars to settle at 11-under 61 and a six-shot victory.

But Gamez's 61 is a new course record at Waterlefe Golf & River Club, which Ted McAnlis designed in the late 1990s.

Tip of the week: Longer Drives

David Leadbetter, who lives in Bradenton, was the special guest for the North Florida PGA Southwest Chapter's annual awards banquet.

So the famous golf instructor is the focal point for this week's tip.

Check out the video below for what everyone wants to do in golf - drive it long and straight:

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Monday Recap: Sweeney's week

Jaclyn Sweeney at IMG Academies in January. Photo by Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald

This week's recap shifts away from the PGA Tour and goes a bit local with Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney.

The Andover, Mass. native and former Arizona State standout made her debut on the Ladies European Tour this past week.

Sweeney tackled the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at the Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne.

After opening with a 1-under par 72 on the par 73 layout, Sweeney failed to card any other under par rounds.

However, she did make the cut and finished in a tie for 54th for 1,791.70 Euros.

Yani Tseng won her second straight Australian Open title with a 16-under par total.

Sweeney's ball striking was decent as she nailed 66.67 percent of greens in regulation for the tournament.

What hurt Sweeney was something she said a month prior to the LET debut - the short game.

Sweeney only got it up-and-down 8 of 23 times, which is about 35 percent.

She also failed in converting from the sand, saving par or better from bunkers 4 of 12 times.

Next up for Sweeney is the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters in Queensland this week. Following her second Australian tournament is next week's New Zealand Women's Open.

Stay tuned here for tee times and updates.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Inside the numbers: Sweeney's first round

Here's a snap shot into how Jaclyn Sweeney fared during her 1-under par 72 in the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open first round:

  • Sweeney drove the ball pretty straight, hitting 11 of 15 fairways Thursday.
  • The former Arizona State standout reached 13 of 18 greens in regulation. That was good for 72.22 percent.
  • Tournaments at the elite level are won and lost with the short game - those shots 100 yards-and-in - and Sweeney was working on that facet during the break between Q-School and the 2011 season. However, her two bogeys stemmed from missed greens. Sweeney was unable to get it up-and-down - including one from the sand - on Nos. 3 and 9.
  • The putting stats on Sweeney: 31 total. She needed 25 putts on holes reached in regulation. But both figures were an average of less than two per hole.
  • Sweeney had two drives recorded for length, on the par-5 2nd and 442-yard par-4 18th.
  • She cranked it 238 and 225 yards, respectively.
  • In all the round resulted in three birdies, two bogeys and 13 pars. Not bad for a debut round, which has left her five shots behind the leaders.
As promised, the final figure is Sweeney's second round tee time. She's set to tackle the back nine first, with a 9:30 a.m. (local time) tee time off No. 10.

Sweeney fared better off the back, firing a 3-under par score, as opposed to the front that yielded zero birdies on her scorecard in round one.

Jaclyn Sweeney in Australian Open hunt

Jaclyn Sweeney during a January practice session at IMG Academies. Photo by Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney is off to a good start in her Ladies European Tour debut.

The Andover, Mass. native is tied for 24th after opening the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open with a 1-under par 72.

Sweeney, who turned pro following the U.S. Women's Amateur to forgo her senior year at Arizona State, is five shots behind first-round co-leaders Jiyai Shin and Jennifer Song.

Sweeney opened tentatively, making the turn in 2-over 38.

But she quickly righted the ship with a birdie on No. 10 at the par-73 Commonwealth Golf Club in Melbourne.

That birdie was one of three on the back nine.

Stay tuned shortly for an additional post about her second round tee time, and a look inside the first round numbers.

Travis Hampshire bags first WFGT major

Logo provided by the West Florida Golf Tour

The West Florida Golf Tour's second major of 2011 wrapped up play Wednesday with Travis Hampshire toting the winner's check.

Hampshire earned $1,000 for completing the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club's course in east Manatee in 67.

He carded the lone round in the 60s as he edged four players by three shots.

Hampshire joins Sam Osborne as major winners this season.

Osborne, the Englishman who stays in Palmetto during his time in the United States, did not participate in Wednesday's tournament.

To read about what Hampshire attributed to his success in the major, check out Wednesday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jaclyn Sweeney's pro debut looms Thursday

Jaclyn Sweeney during a practice session at IMG Academies. Photo: Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney's pro debut on the Ladies European Tour is set to begin in Australia this week.

Sweeney, who works with David Whelan at IMG Academies, soared through the LET's Q-School after missing on full-time status during the LPGA Q-School finals in December.

Whelan also coaches reigning U.S. Women's Open champ Paula Creamer and Saint Stephen's senior Sean Kelly, who is college-bound for the University of South Carolina.

Sweeney told the Herald in January that her plan is to play 20 events this year.

The former Arizona State standout is slated to tee off No. 1 on Thursday at 2:20 p.m. (local time) in the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in Melbourne.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tip of the week: Alignment

A key factor to any player's game is having the correct alignment.

PGA Tour golfers even mess up on aiming where they think they are.

But usually, the best in the world are dead-on as they are with most things that take place prior to swinging the club.

So check out the following video for a quick tip on how to work on keeping your alignment from straying too far to the right or left: