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

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lakewood Ranch's Seath Lauer eGolf Tour third round UPDATE

Seath Lauer's third round in the eGolf Professional Tour's Donald Ross Championship, didn't complete play on Friday.

Thunderstorms suspended play, which is scheduled to resume early Saturday morning.

The former Lakewood Ranch High and Florida State University standout birdied five holes en route to a 1-under par 70 to make the cut following Thursday's second round.

The field was trimmed down to the top 83 players.

Daniel Stone, a West Florida Golf Tour participant like Lauer, also made the cut. He backed up with a 1-over par 72 on day two, but the strength of his opening round 65 got him through for the last two rounds.

In the third round, Stone is tied for 14th place through 13 holes. He stands at 3-under par for his third round.

Meanwhile, Lauer is tied for 71st at 2-under par for the tournament. He's through 10 holes.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Seath Lauer makes cut in Donald Ross Championship

Playing the Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club course in the eGolf Professional Tour's Donald Ross Championship second round, former Lakewood Ranch High and Florida State University standout Seath Lauer birdied five holes en route to a 1-under par 70.

The round yielded a made cut for Lauer, as the field was trimmed down to the top 83 players.

Lauer only had two bogeys, but also double-bogeyed No. 2 during his second round.

Daniel Stone, a West Florida Golf Tour participant like Lauer, also made the cut. He backed up with a 1-over par 72, but the strength of his opening round 65 got him through for the last two rounds.

The third round is currently underway at the North Carolina venue. Check back here later for further updates.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LPGA Tour star Brittany Lincicome visits Manatee County

Brittany Lincicome at last year's CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

LPGA Tour star Brittany Lincicome left her native Seminole for a jaunt down to Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club in the West Florida Golf Tour's winter season finale event, a two-man best ball partners tournament.

Lincicome teamed with friend Ryan Gildersleeve, an eGolf Professional Tour and Hooters Tour participant over the past year, to capture the title with a 61 on the Royal Lakes course.

"I thought it was a huge success," said Lincicome about the WFGT event. "People were nice, and it seems to be run very well. So I'll definitely come back if I have time ... they play some really nice golf courses from what I hear, so it's nice."

Lincicome said she would have gone fishing if she didn't play in Wednesday's event. She also said she hasn't played much since her first-round exit in last week's Sybase Match Play Championship.

Annika Sorenstam gained notoriety for playing in the PGA Tour's regular stop at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas back in 2003.

Lincicome said she doesn't plan on any PGA Tour events in her future, but did play against the men in an individual Hooters Tour Winter Tournament Series event in Florida back in January.

The long layoff between the 2010 and 2011 seasons allowed Lincicome time to play in a competitive environment while honing her game toward the new season.

To read more about Lincicome's WFGT debut, check out Thursday's Bradenton Herald.

Tip of the Week: Ball position

Ball position is just one fundamental that can cause a tour pro to hit a wayward shot if it's out of whack.

Check out this tip from Bradenton resident Paul Azinger's Golfplan series on improving your ball position:

Seath Lauer opens well at eGolf Professional Tour

Seath Lauer during a 2010 West Florida Golf Tour event. Photo by Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald

Bradenton’s Seath Lauer, who had a standout prep and collegiate career at Lakewood Ranch and Florida State University, is playing this week’s eGolf Professional Tour’s Donald Ross Championship in North Carolina.

Lauer carded a 2-under par 69 in Wednesday’s opening round of the 72-hole tournament.

That puts the Huntington, Ind., native in a tie for 49th. There are still scores yet to be posted.

Fellow West Florida Golf Tour participant, Daniel Stone, is currently in a tie for sixth after a 6-under par 65 on the Southern Pines Golf Club layout.

Lauer also played his first round at Southern Pines. The other venue for the tournament is Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.

Lauer had six birdies in his round, but also bogeyed four holes.

Edward Loar is the current leader at 9-under par.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Monday Recap: David Toms is on fire

David Toms in Sunday's final round at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Photo courtesy of McClatchy Tribune-News Service.

Last week's Monday Recap centered on David Toms' ill-fated decision to go for a par-5 in two late in Sunday's final round at TPC Sawgrass.

Ultimately, it cost the PGA Tour veteran the coveted Players Championship, which he lost in a playoff to Korean K.J. Choi.Link
But just a short week later and Toms outlasted another Korean, this time Charlie Wi, for a one-shot victory at the famed Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. It's a course the legendary Ben Hogan made famous.

Toms' scorching form is coming at a good time, with two more marquee tournaments on the horizon, including the U.S. Open.

If the former PGA Championship winner continues the run he's on, then the Jack Nicklaus-run Memorial Tournament in Ohio and the Open at Congressional Country Club could become the next items on his growing resume.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

College notebook: NCAA Women's Championship

The University of Florida's women's golf team, featuring three former IMG Academy players, finished in a tie for 10th in the NCAA Women's Championship.

The Gators' Andrea Watts, Mia Piccio and Isabelle Lendl are all former IMG standouts.

The trio helped UF gain the program's 18th top 10 finish. The Gators tied for 10th with Vanderbilt at 44-over par for the 72-hole event.

UCLA won the national title with a 1,173 total (21-over par).

Watts shot 5-over 293 to lead the Gators. Piccio posted a 6-over 294 total, while Lendl rounded out Florida's five starters with a 317 total.

LSU's Austin Ernst won the individual portion after a final-round 66, her second of 66 in the tournament.

Ernst became the first freshman to capture the Division I championship since 1998.

She played River Wilderness Golf & Country Club in Parrish as part of the Central District Invitational tournament that featured a plethora of women's teams earlier this year.

A couple other local players were in the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame's So-Hyun Park (tie for 111th, 318 total) and Ohio State's Susana Benavides (tie for 80th, 308 total) also played.

Park played at the former Bradenton Prep, while Benavides is an IMG Academy alum.

IMG Leadbetter Junior Golf Tour completes first season

The IMG Leadbetter Junior Golf Tour concluded its inaugural season with the Power Balance Tour Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club this weekend.

There were two age divisions for the boys, and two age groups for the girls.

Bradenton's Zheng Liang and Jin Zhang took the top two spots in the boys 15-18 year old division, respectively.

Bradenton's Mika Liu came up two shots short of the playoff in the girls 15-18 division.

To read more about the event, check out Monday's Bradenton Herald.

Travis Hampshire slips up at Nationwide Tour event

Logo provided by the WFGT.

West Florida Golf Tour alum and former Purdue University standout Travis Hampshire failed to recover after a few bogeys to begin the back-nine en route to a tie for fourth place in the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am.

Hampshire began the South Carolina event with a mind-boggling 12-under par 60, before posting a second-round 68.

He then shot 70 on Saturday, which kept him in the lead through 54-holes.

But a 1-over 72 on the par-71 Thornblade Club track in Sunday's final round left Hampshire at 16-under par for the tournament.

That number was two shots behind Garth Mulroy and Sunghoon Kang, who battled in a sudden-death playoff.

Mulroy won with a par on the first playoff hole.

The pro-am tournament featured three different golf courses and a variety of celebrities in the field, including "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky.

To whet your appetite, check out this stellar shot from Hampshire's second round.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Paula Creamer advances to Saturday in Sybase Match Play

Paula Creamer at last year's CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge. Courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

The Pink Panther is still lurking in the LPGA Tour's Sybase Match Play Championship.

Pendleton School at IMG Academies grad Paula Creamer downed Hall of Famer Karrie Webb 1-up in Friday's second round.

Creamer's victory vaults her into a third round match against Brittany Lang, who defeated I.K. Kim 2-and-1 Friday, in the Mickey Wright bracket.

Creamer and Webb were evenly matched throughout as an early 2-up lead for the honorary Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club member vanished when Webb fought back to square the match after 10 holes.

Both players continued to halve holes as the match stood all-square heading to No. 18.

Creamer birdied the par-5, while Webb parred it to give Creamer the victory.

Sean Jacklin turns pro

Bradenton's Sean Jacklin has turned pro, following in his famous father's footsteps.

The former Saint Stephen's and Manatee High standout played one year at the University of North Carolina.

Jacklin's father, Tony, won the 1969 British Open and 1970 United States Open.

The latter title was noteworthy since no British player, or European, had captured the U.S. Open after Jacklin's triumph until Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell hoisted America's national title in 2010 at Pebble Beach.

His son, Sean, just missed out on getting through local qualifying with a 2-under par 70 at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club.

That served as a professional debut of sorts, but his first official event with a payday came Thursday at Heritage Oaks in a West Florida Golf Tour event.
Jacklin carded a 71 for a tie for 9th and a $57 check.

For more on Jacklin's decision to turn pro, check out next Thursday's Bradenton Herald.

Jaclyn Sweeney in danger of missing cut in Germany

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

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney's stay in Germany is in jeopardy of being a short one.

Sweeney posted a second-round 74 that puts her at a 2-over par total in the UniCredit Ladies German Open, which currently is outside the cut line.

She is tied with teenage sensation Lexi Thompson and a host of other players in 83rd place.

There are players who have yet to finish their second rounds, but it doesn't look likely that Sweeney will make the weekend portion of the 72-hole tournament.

Right now, players at even-par - the top 60 and ties - make the weekend, while everyone else misses the cut.

There is a current weather delay. Players are scheduled to return to the course at 7 p.m. local time before finishing the round at 8:45 p.m. local time, according to the Ladies European Tour.

Sweeney's second round started on the back nine, and she didn't birdie enough holes for a second straight day.

The IMG Academies alum only birdied two holes, including one on the back nine where she turned in 2-over par 38.

The next Ladies European Tour event is next week in Slovakia.

Travis Hampshire goes super low at Nationwide Tour event

West Florida Golf Tour alum Travis Hampshire torched the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am in Thursday's first round.

He carded a 12-under 60 to take a five-shot lead into Friday.

Hampshire played the WFGT's inaugural season, earned a berth into last year's U.S. Open and locked up a Nationwide Tour card following his play at last fall's PGA Tour Q-School.

He had struggled, making just two cuts in six starts in 2011, before Thursday's opening round.

Hampshire posted a 7-under par 29 on the back nine en route to flirting with 59.

"I had a really good warm-up session this morning and you know that this is the kind of course you've got to take advantage of, it's got the softest greens of the three courses," said Hampshire, according to pgatour.com. "You knew you had to shoot a good round here to get off to a good start."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Paula Creamer ousts Aree Song in LPGA Tour match play event

Paula Creamer at the last year's CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge. Courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

The LPGA Tour's Sybase Match Play Championship got underway Thursday in New Jersey.

Two players with Manatee County ties squared off against each other.
Paula Creamer, who is an honorary member at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club and trains with IMG Academies instructor David Whelan, faced IMG Academies alum Aree Song in the first round.

Creamer torched Song with a 5-and-4 victory. She won the first three holes and Nos. 7-10 where she birdied three of the four holes.

The No. 10-seeded Creamer plays Karrie Webb next.

Jaclyn Sweeney opens at even-par in Ladies German Open

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

Jaclyn Sweeney is tied for 56th following the UniCredit Ladies German Open first round.

The former Arizona State University standout shot an even-par 72 in the Ladies European Tour event.

The Pendleton School at IMG Academies alum is seven shots behind leader Becky Morgan, who hails from Wales.

Sweeney birdied three holes, but also bogeyed three holes.

Only one birdie, however, came on the par-5s.

Sweeney tees off No. 10 on Friday at 1:30 p.m. local time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

U.S. Open local qualifiers: No more locals advance

Local qualifying for the U.S. Open continued Tuesday at two more Florida venues.

The nearest course to Manatee County - Southern Hills Plantation Golf Club in Brooksville - boasted the most area players at its qualifier.

None, however, made it through to the sectional stage.

Bradenton's Adam Pettitt and Bradenton Beach's George Blackshaw both carded 81s to miss one of the two sectional berths.

Also failing at the Southern Hills site were PGA Tour winner Grant Waite and former Nationwide Tour regular Brennan Webb.

Joe Monte and Stephen Arnold also missed.

All four players have competed on the West Florida Golf Tour, and Arnold also ran the West Florida Amateur Tour during its inaugural season in 2011.

The lone Florida sectional is June 6 at Vero Beach's Quail Valley Golf Club.

WFGT regulars booked three of the five spots in Monday's local qualifier at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch.

Bradenton's Ryan Worthy, who attends Saint Stephen's Episcopal School, had the highlight of the day despite not qualifying for sectionals after a 1-over par 73.

He aced the difficult par-3 16th hole, popping in a 4-iron from 205-yards into the wind for his hole-in-one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

IMG's Doris Chen joins fellow area qualifiers for U.S. Women's Open

IMG Academies standout Doris Chen, who won the 2010 U.S. Girls Junior , locked up a U.S. Women's Open berth after a sudden-death playoff at the sectional qualifier held Monday at The Oaks Club's Eagle Course.

The tournament bled into Tuesday due to darkness halting play Monday evening.

Chen and Jane Park picked up the final two spots from the qualifier that Bradenton's Jessica Korda was medalist.

Chen shot an even-par 144 total to get into a four-way playoff for two spots and two alternate berths.

Pendleton School alum Paula Creamer won her maiden major title at the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. This year's event is at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs the week of July 4.

Peter Uihlein grabs Ben Hogan Award

Peter Uihlein at the Masters earlier this year. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Peter Uihlein, the former IMG Academies standout and current Oklahoma State junior, culminated a scintillating past year with winning the Ben Hogan Award.

The award, given annually to the best male collegiate golfer, was handed out Monday night at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

Uihlein joined teammate Kevin Tway and UCLA freshman Patrick Cantlay as finalists.

He also became the first Oklahoma State player to capture the award since PGA Tour star Rickie Fowler in 2008.

Uihlein played the Transitions Championship in Palm Harbor as a PGA Tour tune-up for the Masters, where he earned an invitation based off his triumph at the 2010 United States Amateur.

That victory also exempted the honorary Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club member from qualifying for the next month's U.S. Open and July's British Open.

But first, he'll help the Cowboys in a regional tournament at the end of this week. OK State can advance to the NCAA National Championship, which is held at the Cowboys' home course this year.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Monday Recap: Going for it

What a final round at The Players Championship!

The annual tournament held at TPC Sawgrass is considered golf's fifth major.

And the 2011 event lived up to that billing.

Korean K.J. Choi has never won a major, but came away from Sunday with a Players Championship title.

He earned victory after defeating David Toms in a playoff. Toms birdied the difficult 18th from a fairway divot to force extra holes.

However, it was Toms' decision on the par-5 16th that will determined his fate.

Had Toms elected to lay-up, his birdie on the 72nd hole would have been for victory rather than to tie Choi.

It's the old-age question in golf strategy - to go for it, or not.

Toms did, and paid the price after dropping his second shot into the water surrounding the 16th green.

Toms should have done what he did at the 2001 PGA Championship.

Toms was locked in a duel with Phil Mickelson, who was searching for his first major championship at that time. On the 72nd hole, Toms faced a critical decision - to go for it or not - just like Sunday's final round.

What Toms did was lay-up to within wedge distance, short of the water at Atlanta Athletic Club's 18th green. His decision paid off as he saved par and captured his lone major title, while sending Mickelson away without his maiden major triumph.

And because he chose to go for it at The Players Championship on Sunday, Toms gave up a chance to enter the final two holes with a lead.

Choi birdied the infamous par-3 17th that features an island green. Toms revved up the crowd with a birdie to force sudden-death on No. 18, but his decision ended up costing him the coveted tournament crown.

And that's what golf is - constant decision-making - because as the legendary Bobby Jones once said, "Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course ... the space between your ears."

Jessica Korda medals at U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifier

Jessica Korda at the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Bradenton's Jessica Korda is heading back to the United States Women's Open.
Korda, who has struggled thus far in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, torched the Eagles Course at The Oaks Club in Osprey just like she did in 2010.
Korda shot 70-66--136 to earn medalist honors at the sectional qualifier for a direct entry into this year's U.S. Women's Open, slated for July 7-10 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

Argentine Victoria Tanco, who trains at IMG Academies, also made it through with a 142 total for the 36-hole event.

Only four berths and two alternate spots were up for grabs.

Both Korda and Tanco qualified from the Oaks venue last year to play in the 2010 U.S. Women's Open, where Pendleton School alum Paula Creamer captured her first-ever major championship.

Area players make it through various U.S. Open local qualifiers

Qualifying for the 111th United States Open is in full swing, with the USGA receiving a reported 8,300 entries.

The local qualifying stage in Florida began May 6 and continues until Sunday.

Several players have gotten through with ties to Manatee County.

Travis Hampshire
, who played several West Florida Golf Tour events in its inaugural 2010 season until he gained full-time playing privileges on the Nationwide Tour, made it through last Thursday at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

Hampshire earned one of the last spots in the sectional tournament after a playoff. He played in the 2010 U.S. Open.

Reigning City of Sarasota Men's Amateur champion and University of North Florida senior Chris Kennedy qualified last Monday at Hunter's Green Country Club in Tampa.

Kennedy played his high school golf at Cardinal Mooney.

Former IMG Academies student Christo Greyling advanced from the MetroWest Golf Club qualifier in Orlando last Monday.

West Florida Golf Tour participant Justin McCarraher, who lives in Fort Myers, was the medalist at the local qualifier held Monday at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers.

Also on Monday, the lone Bradenton qualifying site took place at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club.

To read more about how the area players fared in Monday's qualifier at the Ritz, check out Tuesday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Battle of the Yellow Golf Ball

The West Florida Golf Tour's "Race to the Ritz" match play competition concluded Sunday with three-time PGA Tour winner Robert Gamez and Nick Jones squaring off for the $4,500 PGA Tour Q-School payout as the grand prize.

Due to a high volume of players at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club, the final remained at the Founders Club in Sarasota where Gamez and Jones dispatched their semifinal opponents on Sunday morning.

The final was a back-and-forth struggle, where both players found birdies hard to come by as windy conditions and tough pin locations made scoring a bit more difficult than earlier in the day.

And the final proved as a good marketing tool for Srixon, which makes a popular yellow golf ball, since both Gamez and Jones play the ball.

Following the match, Jones said he plans on playing more WFGT events in preparation for Q-School in the fall.

He already attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open at his home course at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.

That round didn't go quite the way he was rolling along in this weekend's match play tournament.

Gamez, however, is exempt from local qualifying for the U.S. Open.

Rather than take part in the lone Florida sectional site, Gamez said he'll attempt to qualify from the Columbus, Ohio venue at the sectional phase.

To read more about the Gamez and Jones final match, check out Monday's Bradenton Herald.

Jaclyn Sweeney stumbles in Portugal Ladies Open final round

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

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney had a rough go in the final round of the Ladies European Tour's ISPS HANDA Portugal Ladies Open.

Sweeney ballooned to an 81, which put her at 6-over par for the 54-hole tournament and 1,250 Euro payday and a tie for 44th.

Sweeney scored well on the par-5's in the opening two rounds, but began Sunday's final round with a double-bogey on the par-5 1st.

From there, the former Arizona State University and IMG Academies standout added another double on No. 3.

Sweeney continued to struggle, only making birdies on two holes - both were par-5's.

She entered the final round averaging 3 1/2 birdies per round for the tournament.

Tip of the week: Pressure putts

How did Tiger Woods, before the scandal, make every putt he needed to make?

Well, Bradenton resident Paul Azinger explains just how to keep your cool under pressure with the flat stick in this week's tip.

So, check out the video below where Azinger offers a drill to putt with pressure:

Jaclyn Sweeney makes cut at Portugal Ladies Open

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

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney made the cut in this week's Ladies European Tour stop.

Sweeney opened with a 3-under par 69 at the ISPS Handa Portugal Ladies Open, before carding an even-par 72 that has her tied for 26th.

Sweeney is nine shots adrift of leader Gwladys Nocera.

The tournament is only a 54-hole event, and Sweeney begins the final round at 9:35 a.m. local time.

She made five birdies to offset two bogeys in the first round.

In the second round, Sweeney continued to attack the par-5's to do her damage. She played the four holes in 3-under par, which included an eagle on the No. 17.

West Florida Golf Tour's "Race to the Ritz" begins

Logo provided by WFGT.

The West Florida Golf Tour's "Race to the Ritz" match play tournament began Saturday.

The competition pits the top 12 players on the tour's money list in a winner-take-all event. The prize is the winning player gets their PGA Tour Q-School entry fees paid for this year.

No. 9-seeded Sam Osborne, who lives in Palmetto, defeated two opponents - including top-seeded Joey Lamielle - during Saturday's first two rounds.

Nick Jones, seeded fourth, received an opening-round bye and then bested Travis Perkins 1-up.

Those two will meet in Sunday's first semifinal, slated for 9:30 a.m. at the Founders Club, where Saturday's rounds took place.

Daniel Stone earned a berth in the other semifinal as the tournament's 10th seed. He dispatched former Lakewood Ranch High and Florida State University standout Seath Lauer 5-and-4 before downing No. 2-seeded Matthew Galloway 4-and-3.

He'll face three-time PGA Tour winner Robert Gamez, who had a hard-fought 21-hole match against Sarasota's Brian Ward.

Gamez received an opening-round bye due to his No. 3 standing on the WFGT's Order of Merit.

Sunday morning's winners will then travel to the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club for the final in the afternoon, with the Q-School payment awaiting as the grand prize.

For more information on Saturday's matches, including the long battle between Gamez and Ward, check out Sunday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The results are in ... and the best par-3 is?

As we sit on the eve of The Players Championship, a look back at last week's poll closing shows the TPC Sawgrass track as having the best/most memorable par-3 in golf.

The tournament is often considered the game's fifth major, and the memorable hole is the daunting 17th - noted for its island green.

The Pete Dye-designed hole edged out Augusta National's famous 12th, which is part of the Amen Corner stretch where many Masters tournaments have been decided.

So as golf fans await several water-soaked balls on No. 17, it's time for another poll.

Check it out on the right-hand corner of the blog - what's the toughest course in Manatee County?

College notebook: Women's Regionals

Several area players wrapped up the golf season with last weekend's regionals. Other area players are still alive as the NCAA National Championships loom next week.

Only the top eight teams and two individuals not on a selected team advance for a shot at a national title May 18-21 in Bryan, Texas. Just the Florida Gators made it through from the in-state schools.

Here's how those players fared:


  • Former Manatee High standout Maria Ronderos completed a stellar career at the University of Miami with a 239 total in the 54-hole tournament.
  • University of South Florida sophomore Shena Yang fared better, but a 226 total still wasn't enough to make it past the regional stage.
  • The University of Florida women's team, featuring five former IMG Academy standouts, is moving on. The Gators' top three players during the East Regional - Mia Piccio, Isabelle Lendl and Andrea Watts - all crafted their game in Bradenton at IMG. They finished 7th with an 880 team total to secure a berth into the Division I finals.
  • Florida State University wasn't as fortunate as its in-state rivals. The Seminoles tied Vanderbilt for the last spot, but lost out to the Commodores in a playoff. Jessica Negron, though, qualified as an individual.
  • Notre Dame senior So-Hyun Park, who is a Bradenton Prep alum, is heading to the National Championships after the Fighting Irish finished 5th in the Central Regional.
  • Duke freshman Laetitia Beck's season ended along with her Blue Devil teammates. Beck, who attended the Pendleton School at IMG Academies by way of Israel, posted a 228 total as Duke tallied a 913 to finish in 9th place - four shots behind the Cheyenne Woods-led Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
  • Michigan's Caramia Sitompul is a former Bradenton Prep standout, like Park. However, she isn't joining Park at the Division I finals, because the Wolverines finished 18th. Sitompul tied for 85th with a 238 total.
  • The Wolverines Big Ten arch rival, Ohio State, is marching on with the help of a former IMG Academy standout. Susana Benavides carded a 227 total as the Buckeyes No. 2 player at the Central Regional, which locked up a 6th place finish and berth into next week's NCAA Championships.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Monday Recap: Local Edition

While the Sarasota City Men's Amateur wrapped up its 40th annual four-day, 72-hole tournament, area players also were on the tournament trail.Link
University of North Florida senior and former Cardinal Mooney standout Chris Kennedy polished off his second Sarasota City Men's Amateur title at Bobby Jones Golf Club's British Course.

He carded a final round 71 for a 12-under par 276 total. Kennedy's four rounds were all under par, and he downed reigning Bradenton City Men's Amateur champ Aaron Bishop (second place, 283 total) and Bradenton resident Phil Walters (third, 288) for the crown.

Walters previously won both the Bradenton and Sarasota City Men's Amateur titles, and recently took the Bradenton City Two-Man Combo championship with Bishop.

For full results, click here.

Meanwhile, Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney collected 3,668.75 Euros for her performance overseas in the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.

Sweeney carded a 1-over par 74 in the final round to tie for 14th place at 6-over par.

Christel Boeljon won the tournament at 5-under par 287. Only four players broke par for the 72-hole tourney.

Sweeney is 23rd on the Ladies European Tour's Order of Merit with 11,237.64 Euros.

That equates to $16,111.40 based on the current exchange rate.

Back in the United States, Florida State University alumnus Seath Lauer fired his best round of the week to vault up to a tie for 44th place at the eGolf Professional Tour's Willow Creek Open in High Point, N.C.

The former Lakewood Ranch High standout shot 5-under par 67 to grab a $1,377.50 payday for the 72-hole event.

Lauer had previously attempted to Monday qualify for the Nationwide Tour events in Georgia.

He missed in his bids the past two weeks, but area pro Devin Spies made it into the Stadion Classic at UGA field.

Like Lauer and Nationwide Tour regular Travis Hampshire, Spies has played regularly on the West Florida Golf Tour in the past year.

However, both Spies and Hampshire failed to make the cut after posting a 148 and 146 total, respectively.

The cut came at 144.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Peter Uihlein named finalist for Ben Hogan Award

Peter Uihlein at this year's Masters. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service

The Ben Hogan Award finalists were announced Wednesday and former Pendleton School standout Peter Uihlein made the cut.

Uihlein won the 2010 U.S. Amateur and is an honorary member at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch.

Uihlein joins his Oklahoma State University teammate Kevin Tway and UCLA freshman Patrick Cantlay as finalists for the prestigious award, which goes to the top men's collegiate player each year.

The winner will be announced May 16 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth - a venue that Hogan made famous.

Seve Ballesteros had global impact

Seve Ballesteros in a 2004 file photo. He passed away at age 54 on Saturday. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Normally, this blog space is reserved for news and notes on the great players in the area and beyond.

But as I decided to write about the late, great Seve Ballesteros, I figured I'd honor such a golfing legend with a personal reflection.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Europe's first big star, but I have tried incorporating his creativity into my short game - which has waned from a once guaranteed up-and-down to not even a shell of its former self in recent years.

The reason is due to some chipping and pitching yips anytime I have a sand wedge in my hands. All other clubs, I still bump-and-run decent - mainly due to a smaller swing.

Getting back to the legendary Ballesteros, who won five major championships and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

I tested out a back injury with my first round in three months during a recent day off and I tapped into my inner-Seve on No. 9.

The round, which I set a personal record six birdies to offset the seven miscues, was highlighted on this hole - even though I didn't make a bird.

I played the hole in vintage Seve, hitting a wayward drive into the trees, then hooding a long-iron from the rough and curving the ball pin-high about 20 yards right of the green.

My ball rested underneath another tree with a tight lie and about a five-foot window between the overhanging branch and a bunker that blocked some of the green.

This called for a low running shot. And my first instinct was to pick a 5-iron and play it like Seve would.

Sure enough, I skipped it through the rough on one bounce. The ball popped onto the green and rolled ever-so close to the pin, breaking at its last revelation to stop 6-inches from the pin.

It was only another day later that I heard the news about Seve succumbing the cancerous brain tumor that he was diagnosed with a couple years ago.

Even with his passing at the young age of 54, Seve's impact was global and I definitely drew inspiration from the way he played the game.

Seve's golfing abilities were just a touch of the iceberg when it came to his influence.

To read more about this titan of golf, check out Sunday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.

And check out this classic video depicting the typical adventurous Seve during the 1979 British Open:

Mooney alum Chris Kennedy still leads Sarasota City Amateur

University of North Florida golfer Chris Kennedy, a Cardinal Mooney alumnus, has a commanding lead with just one round to go in the 40th annual Sarasota City Men's Amateur at Bobby Jones Golf Club's British Course.

Kennedy carded a 3-under par 69 to extend his three-shot cushion to seven heading into Sunday.

Kennedy is at 11-under par, a 205 total, through 54 holes.

Aaron Bishop, the reigning Bradenton City Men's Amateur champ, and Bradenton resident Phil Walters sit in second and third place, respectively.

Bishop is at a 212 total, while Walters - his winning partner in the recent Bradenton City Two-Man Combo Championship - is two more strokes adrift.

First-round leader Michael Colgate is in fourth place at 1-under par 215.

Those four are the only players under par for the three rounds.

Jaclyn Sweeney rebounds at Turkish Airlines Ladies Open

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney returned to the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open on the right foot following a weather break that postponed play in Friday's second round.

The Pendleton School alumnus birdied her first hole on Saturday after play resumed in the Ladies European Tour event.

However, Sweeney then struggled to make anything happen - carding a double and triple bogey en route to a back nine 41 to conclude her second round.

But Sweeney didn't let the second round 80 crush her confidence.

The former Arizona State University standout rebounded with a 3-under par 70 that leaves her in a tie for 17th at 5-over par.

Sweeney had just two bogeys, while notching three birdies and an eagle. She's 10 shots behind the leader.

"Race to the Ritz" looms in one week

Logo provided by WFGT.

Next week is the stretch drive for West Florida Golf Tour players seeking a spot into the "Race to the Ritz" match play competition.

The top 12 players on the WFGT's Order of Merit qualify for the two-day tournament held at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch.

The top four earn first-round byes.

There are just three tournaments left on the schedule for anyone looking to sneak into the field.

Recently, the tour conducted two events in Manatee County - at Lakewood Ranch Country Club and the Ritz.

The WFGT also hosted two tournaments outside the area.

On April 28, Mark Miller won the event at Lakewood Ranch Country Club with a 3-under par 69. He defeated Matthew Galloway and Brian Ward in a sudden-death playoff for his first-ever WFGT title.

Galloway and Ward, however, were big winners despite not taking the title as they both climbed the money list ladder. Galloway leaped to No. 2, while Ward continued to cement his place in the top 12.

On Monday, Danny Evelyn won at Lake Jovita in Dade City with a 3-under 69. He then backed that up with a victory at the Ritz-Carlton in a playoff over Sam Osborne on Wednesday.

Finally, Friday's tourney featured another first-time winner. Former IMG Academies student Christo Greyling shot 5-under par 67 for victory in the Orlando-area Southern Dunes Golf and Country Club.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lakewood Ranch's Seath Lauer makes eGolf Tour cut

Seath Lauer at a West Florida Golf Tour event in September. Photo by Paul Videla/Bradenton Herald

Former Lakewood Ranch High standout Seath Lauer didn't qualify for the Nationwide Tour stop in Georgia stop, but the Florida State University grad is plugging along in North Carolina where the eGolf Professional Tour is hosting a 72-hole event.

Lauer, who is currently ranked No. 7 on the West Florida Golf Tour's Order of Merit, made the cut after shooting 70-74 for a 2-under par 144 total at the halfway point at the Willow Creek Open in High Point, N.C.

However, he soared to a 76 on day three and is tied for 69th out of the 77 players that made the cut.

Lauer's 218 total is 15 shots behind tournament leader Jerry Richardson.

Lauer's final round tee time is 9:50 a.m. off No. 10.

Jaclyn Sweeney in hunt at Turkish Airlines Ladies Open

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

Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney is back on the Ladies European Tour circuit this week.

The Pendleton School alumnus is at 3-over par in the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.

Sweeney was briefly atop the leaderboard during first-round action when she birdied four of her first six holes.

However, a back nine 41 marked with two double bogeys left her with a 1-over 73 in Thursday's opening round.

Sweeney is through 12 holes in her second round, but play was suspended due to inclement weather.

The former Arizona State University standout is 2-over par thus far in the second round, but birdied No. 3 just before play was halted.

Currently, she's tied for 19th and only five shots behind the co-leaders who are already done with the second round.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seath Lauer tries Nationwide Tour Monday qualifier

Seath Lauer during a West Florida Golf Tour event last September. Photo by Paul Videla/pvidela@bradenton.com

Florida State University alum Seath Lauer, who played at Lakewood Ranch High, tried Monday qualifying for another Nationwide Tour event.

Last week, he attempted to earn a spot into the South Georgia Classic.

On Monday, Lauer carded a 1-over par 72 to miss out on a berth into the Stadion Classic at UGA slated to begin Thursday in Athens, Ga.

There were two different sites to qualify from as Lauer joined other West Florida Golf Tour members at Achasta Golf Club.

Only seven players qualified from that venue, the last spots came at 6-under par 65.

WFGT participant Devin Spies qualified after a 7-under par 64.

Former Bradenton Academy alum Casey Wittenberg posted a 1-over par 73 at the Jennings Mill Country Club qualifying site.

However, the scoring on that course was much different as the last player in shot 3-under par 69.

Wittenberg, who shares David Whelan as a coach with LPGA Tour star and friend Paula Creamer, also tried qualifying for last week's John Smoltz headlined Nationwide Tour stop like Lauer.

Matthew Galloway also attempted to qualify once again.

Galloway, who is No. 2 on the WFGT's Order of Merit, also shot a 73.

Former IMG Academy standouts Tyler Leon and Ty Tryon failed with a 77 and 78, respectively.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cardinal Mooney alum Kennedy leads Sarasota City Amateur

Former Cardinal Mooney standout Chris Kennedy has the halfway lead at the 40th annual Sarasota City Men's Amateur.

Kennedy fired a scorching 6-under par 66 at Bobby Jones Golf Club's British Course on Sunday to take a three-shot lead into next weekend's final two rounds.

A senior at the University of North Florida, Kennedy won the Sarasota City in 2007.

Aaron Bishop and Sarasota High's Michael Colgate are tied for second with a 139 total.

Bishop also carded a second-round 66 and is the reigning Bradenton City Men's Amateur champ.
Colgate held the first-round lead with a 69, before posting a 2-under par 70 on day two.

The tournament is flighted after this past weekend's opening two rounds, before play shifts to next weekend's finale.

To see the full results and flights, click here.

The Monday Recap: It's Bubba Time

Bubba Watson at the 2011 Masters. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Bubba Watson's playoff victory in New Orleans was his second this season.

The long-hitting left-hander is quite the treat to watch in person.

Yours truly witnessed his power at the 2010 Transitions Championship, the PGA Tour stop at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor.

With such a funky delivery - not as awkward looking as Jim Furyk's swing - it's hard to imagine how Watson can crank balls so far.

Well, he simply creates so much width in his swing, generating tons of turn and goes past parallel when most amateurs have a hard time just getting to parallel on their backswing.

The issue with any long hitter is whether or not they can find the accuracy, and Watson has found unique spots on many golf courses before.

Take Sunday's final round when he blasted a tee shot well right down the stretch. He still managed to escape the danger to give himself a chance at an up-and-down.

Watson converted the par on No. 12 and eventually held off Webb Simpson for a playoff victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana.

Watson wouldn't have been in the sudden-death playoff if not for a costly penalty to Simpson, which the USGA is contemplating to modify for the 2012 season.

Bubba's triumph lifts him to the top of the FedEx Cup standings.

Jessica Korda at the 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur, where she finished second. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Meanwhile, Jessica Korda was the lone Manatee County-based player to finish under par at the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala.

Korda rebounded with a 70 on Sunday to net a tie for 19th and $14,715 - her highest payday thus far on the LPGA Tour.

Korda ended up tied with fellow teenage phenom Lexi Thompson after the latter ballooned to a final round 78 after sharing the lead through three rounds.

The Bradenton-born Korda finished nine shots behind Marie Hjorth's winning total.
Paula Creamer and Taylor Leon, two players who have trained at IMG Academies, finished at 6-over and 7-over par, respectively.