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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Local professional: Steve Pleis wins West Florida Golf Tour's Tour Championship

Logo provided by the WFGT

East Manatee County resident Steve Pleis fired a scorching 9-under par total to win the West Florida Golf Tour's 27-hole Tour Championship on Monday at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club.

Pleis is a former caddy of local famous golfer Paul Azinger, and has considerable talent in his own right as evidenced by Monday's performance.

He defeated a field of more than 40 players to win the championship by five shots and claim the first-place prize of $2,000.

To read more about Pleis and the event, check out tomorrow's Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

LPGA Symetra Tour: Jaclyn Sweeney on bubble

Jaclyn Sweeney practices ahead of her 2011 season at IMG. Paul Videla/pvidela@bradenton.com

The LPGA Symetra Tour's season is almost over, which means it's crunch time for players looking to earn an LPGA Tour card without having to go through Qualifying School.

Only the top 10 players on the money list at the end of the year earn a free pass to women's golf's biggest tour for 2013.

So with two tournaments remaining in 2012, the pressure is on for anyone on the bubble for the Volvik Race for the Card.

That brings us to the only local player with a real chance: Jaclyn Sweeney.

The Andover, Mass., native and Bradenton resident had a golden opportunity slip away this past weekend to lock up an LPGA Tour card.

After firing a first-round 66 to share the lead at the Symetra Classic in Texas, Sweeney returned scores of 73 and 75 in the second and third rounds, respectively.

The former Arizona State University star, who entered the week No. 9 on the money list, fell into a tie for 11th in the $100,000-pursed tournament.

That dropped her two positions in the money list to No. 11 with $29,866 in earnings this season.

She trails Leah Wigger by less than $400 and still can fight for her LPGA Tour card with solid performances over the final two tourneys.

The Symetra Tour is in Georgia this week for the Vidalia Championship, before heading to Daytona Beach to wrap the season up at the end of September.

Esther Choe, who claimed the inaugural Sara Bay Classic when the Symetra Tour was in Manatee County earlier this year, still leads the money list despite playing in only five tournaments.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ricoh Women's British Open: Paula Creamer records top three finish

Paula Creamer at the Kingsmill Championship in early September. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Services.

IMG Academies alum Paula Creamer snagged a third place showing in this weekend's RICOH Women's British Open, but she wasn't close to challenging winner Jiyai Shin.

The South Korean blasted the field by nine shots, but Creamer's final-round 72 jumped her from a tie for 10th to third place at the conclusion of play.

Other locals didn't fare as well at the difficult Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

Bradenton native Jessica Korda and Manatee County resident Jodi Ewart both missed the cut.

Also, while not a local, Jacqui Concolino missed the cut. Concolino finished runner-up in the inaugural Sara Bay Classic this year. The tournament is a Symetra Tour event and brought major professional golf back to the area for the first time since the Champions Tour left TPC Prestancia in the early 2000s.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tip of the Week: Recovering with bounce

Heading out to the links this weekend, and need a quick tip to lower your score?

Well, check out this bit of advice from former major champion Paul Azinger on using bounce to drop shots.

The short game is where all the scoring is done, and Zinger, a Bradenton resident, offers the following tip through his GolfPlan app.

Here it is:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

PGA Tour Q-School: Chris Kennedy advances

Chris Kennedy took over Cardinal Mooney's boys golf program this year. Jason Dill/jdill@bradenton.com

Chris Kennedy didn't have the best final round he would have liked, but the former Cardinal Mooney Cougar standout and current Lakewood Ranch resident still did enough to progress from the Pre-Qualification stage of PGA Tour Q-School on Thursday.

Kennedy's 4-over par 76 on the Bear Lakes course in West Palm Beach gave him a 4-over cumulative total for the 54-hole tournament.

It also earned him a tie for 27th place. The top 39 scores and ties advanced to the First Stage, scheduled at various venues beginning in mid-October.

"Mission accomplished really," Kennedy said. "I didn't play my best (Thursday), but at the end of the day the main thing is to get through."

Kennedy, who is the boys golf coach at Mooney, said he'll have to learn how to handle his nerves at the next stage.

"I was a little jumpy (Thursday), especially on the back nine," he said. "I think my routine probably got a little fast. And just kind of slow down, take a few deep breaths and really focus in on my routine and what I'm trying to do."

Kennedy also won't know where he'll head for the first stage until the Sept. 25. He said his top choice is the Grasslands in Lakeland, and then the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie.

However, it's based on the players that finished above him at all the Pre-Qualification sites and their choices, before he'll know.

Kennedy is making his Q-School debut.

Meanwhile, Lakewood Ranch resident Adam Hogue snagged one of the last spots when he tied for 36th following a 222 total for the three rounds.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PGA Tour Q-School: Chris Kennedy jumps up leaderboard

Chris Kennedy watches his Cardinal Mooney boys golf team warm-up in a match against Sarasota Riverview in late August. Jason Dill/jdill@bradenton.com

Lakewood Ranch’s Chris Kennedy rebounded to fire a second-round 69 in the PGA Tour Q-School Pre-Qualification stage held at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach on Wednesday.
The three-day, 54-hole tournament started on Tuesday and wraps up play on Thursday.

Kennedy opened with a 75, but his second round has put him with an even-par 144 total. It’s also moved him into a tie for 11th place.

The top 39 players and ties progress to the first stage, scheduled to take place at various venues in October.
Kennedy, who is in his first year as coach of Cardinal Mooney’s boys golf team, is playing in his first Q-School.

“It has been a little nerve-racking at certain points in my rounds, but for the most part I have been pretty relaxed and focusing on my game plan,” Kennedy said in a text message Wednesday. “I have been staying with my girlfriend’s family over here, so that has been a nice distraction off of the golf course to keep myself from thinking about it too much.”

Kennedy tees off at 9 a.m. in Thursday’s final round alongside fellow West Florida Golf Tour participant Danny Evelyn, of Lakeland.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

This won't be a regular blog post concerning golf, because today is the anniversary of 9/11.

Eleven years ago the World Trade Center fell and I can still remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.

I was 18 at the time, taking a break before college. I worked at Laurel Oak Country Club in Sarasota in the cart barn, owing to my affinity for golf.

I was living at home and my mom, who is retired, and my dad, who had the day off, both woke me up a few hours before my alarm was set to go off.

Confused, I quickly collected myself and walked to the living room where I saw the television coverage of the damage caused to the one tower.

Then ... the second plane crashed into the other tower and it became quite apparent that it was no accident.

I recall former President George W. Bush was in town that day to read to elementary school students and that my brother was still in high school.

Cell phone usage wasn't as prevalent as it is today, so there wasn't much instant communication. Traditional mass media like newspapers, radio and TV were the sources for what was happening.

I also remember how much it had rained, like it usually does in September here on the Suncoast.

It poured so much that the course was closed, yet I still was required to work, in case members needed their bags to play somewhere else.

Most of the time I spent in the pro shop alongside a former assistant pro there, watching the cable news outlets covering the massive story.

I didn't do much golfing that day or right after. Everything seemed irrelevant to what transpired on this day, 11 years ago.

Monday, September 10, 2012

West Florida Golf Tour: Ryan Gildersleeve wins Fall Swing opener

Logo provided by the WFGT

Ryan Gildersleeve torched Dade City's Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in capturing the West Florida Golf Tour's first event of its Fall Swing last week.

Gildersleeve, a Clearwater/St. Petersburg area resident, recorded a 13-under par 129 total for the two-day event, finishing with a final-round 64.

His two-round tally included eight birdies and three eagles against one bogey in 36 holes on Lake Jovita's South Course.

Gildersleeve, who is known as a good friend of LPGA Tour star Brittany Lincicome, displayed his own golfing prowess in besting the 45-player field for the $2,300 top prize.

Bradenton's Sean Jacklin, son of legendary two-time major champion Tony Jacklin, snagged a tie for sixth after opening with a solid 66 in the first round.

The WFGT's next tournament is scheduled for this Wednesday at Southern Dunes in Haines City.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Junior golf: Locals make splash at FJT event

Gianna Tomeo at last year's FHSAA Class 2A girls golf state tournament in Howey-in-the-Hills. Jason Dill/Bradenton Herald.

Several Manatee County junior golfers excelled in the recent Florida Junior Tour event held in Bonita Springs.

The tournament was shortened to a one-day event due to Tropical Storm Isaac.

Nonetheless, two Bradenton boys logged top five finishes in the 13-15 year old tourney at Worthington Country Club.

Jack Tianyi Cen (70) and Bradenton Christian golfer Philip Knowles (72) finished in second and a tie for third, respectively, behind Lake Mary's Robin Wang, who fired an 8-under par 64 for the title.

On the girls side, Manatee High's Gianna Tomeo also had a successful tournament when her 77 gave her a third place showing.

Tomeo was one shot behind Emma Bradley, of Naples, and Sebring's Kendall Griffin at the conclusion of play. Bradley won the rain-shortened tournament in a playoff.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tip of the Week: Tony Jacklin's top tip

While having dinner out on Tuesday night, I saw Manatee County resident Tony Jacklin, a two-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member, demonstrating some golf tips for viewers on the Golf Channel.

So what better way to restart the tip of the week segment on this blog than to use Jacklin's philosophy about keeping your head down.

The tip was filmed at The Concession Golf Club in East Manatee,

Here it is:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Prep golf: Chris Kennedy duals as professional golfer and coach

New Cardinal Mooney boys golf coach Chris Kennedy watches his team warm up ahead of Tuesday's season-opening match against Sarasota Riverview at the Founders Club.

Lakewood Ranch resident Chris Kennedy has sparkled on the West Florida Golf Tour in 2012.

The former Cardinal Mooney standout has topped the WFGT's money list for the year with more than $17,000 in earnings.

As PGA Tour Q-School approaches in September, Kennedy has adopted another position: high school golf coach.

Kennedy is the new boys golf coach at his alma mater, the Cardinal Mooney Cougars.

He's still playing full-time as well as coaching the boys golf team this fall.

To read more about why Kennedy decided to get into coaching, check out Thursday's editions of the Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

LPGA Symetra Tour: Race for the Card

On Monday, this blog examined how the 2012 season was going for LPGA Tour pros that are based in Manatee County.

Today, we'll look at how players from the area are faring on the LPGA Symetra Tour, which is one step below the main tour.

The top 10 players on the season-ending money list will earn an LPGA Tour card for the 2013 season.

And the Volvik Race For the Card is winding down, with just three tournaments left in the year.

Here's how the locals stand:

Jaclyn Sweeney

The former Arizona State University star is in the best shape among any players calling Manatee County home. Currently, Sweeney is No. 9 on the money list with just more than $28,000 in earnings out of 12 tournaments. And her lead over the 10th and 11th players on the money list is slim. So Sweeney will need three strong events to close out the season and avoid Q-School with a free pass to the LPGA Tour next year.

Ginger Howard

All eyes were on the budding phenom when she turned pro and ran through the local Q-School stage in Venice with ease. But Howard's rookie year on the Symetra Tour hasn't been all glitz and glamor like some top talents have had on the LPGA Tour (see Lexi Thompson). Howard is ranked No. 32 on the money list with earnings just below $14,500. Nonetheless, the IMG Academies alum can still vault herself into the top 10 with a victory or two down the stretch. She'll need to improve her 73.97 scoring average first, though.

Rachel Connor

Connor is in a similar position to Howard. The Englishwoman hasn't marveled this year, with $14,811 in 11 tournaments. It ranks her No. 31 on the money list and crunch time is upon Connor to make a move toward earning her card. Otherwise, Q-School looms. Her major weakness is with the putter, where she ranks 76th in putting. But Connor has also generated five rounds in the 60s this season, good for a tie for 8th on the Symetra Tour and reason to believe she can string it all together with three events left.

Natalie Sheary

The former Wake Forest standout came through IMG's famous golf academy like Howard and Sweeney. But unlike Sweeney, Sheary isn't in a comfortable position with three tournaments remaining on the season.
She sits just below the $11,000 mark in earnings, and has to excel quickly in order to gain a card to the LPGA Tour in 2013. Sheary's driving accuracy (68 percent) and greens in regulation number (63 percent) must improve if she'll better her top finish this year (tie for fifth) by the end of the season.

Monday, August 27, 2012

LPGA Tour: Local report card

After a little summer break from the blog due to vacations and getting this year's football tab previews done, it's time to focus back on the links.

With that in mind, here's a quick peak at how some of the female professional golfers are doing on the LPGA Tour as the season winds down:

Jessica Korda

It's been a mixed bag of results for the Bradenton native this season. Korda captured her first-ever LPGA Tour victory at the Women's Australian Open to begin 2012 with a bang. But since then, she's yet to record another top 10 finish, and has only notched two top 20 showings. Still, Korda's sophomore campaign has netted her more than $260,000 in earnings.

Jodi Ewart

The Englishwoman, who lives in Manatee County, hasn't won on the LPGA Tour yet. But she has logged two top 10 finishes and close to $170,000 this season. Ewart, like Korda, hasn't fared well as of late. While she hasn't missed a cut since April, Ewart hasn't cracked the top 60 in her last three LPGA Tour events.

Paula Creamer

A tour veteran, Creamer's posted a successful 2012 despite not winning a tournament. That's due to her performances in the majors, where she tied for 20th in the Kraft Nabisco Championship and followed that up with top-10 results in the U.S. Women's Open and LPGA Championship. To date, the former IMG Academies alum has more than $400,000 in earnings.

Victoria Tanco

The Argentine phenom hasn't blossomed in her rookie season. A former IMG Academy standout, Tanco has missed nine cuts with only $22,300 in earnings. She's in need of some superb golf to avoid a return trip to LPGA Q-School.

Hannah Yun

Like Tanco, Hannah Yun has struggled after making her way through Q-School. The former University of Florida golfer has cashed in 3 of 12 tournaments in 2012. It adds up to just over $21,000 in earnings and it looks like another visit to Q-School.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

FSGA Boys Junior: Ramsey Touchberry and Philip Knowles notch top 10 finishes

Ramsey Touchberry practices for Lakewood Ranch High in last fall's Class 2A state tournament, which the Mustangs won to complete a 103-0 season. Jason Dill/jdill@bradenton.com

Lakewood Ranch rising junior Ramsey Touchberry had the highest finish among area golfers in the boys 16-18 year old division of the 58th Florida State Boys' Junior Championship at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach on Thursday.

Touchberry rebounded from an opening 76 to post a 70 and 74 on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, to snag ninth place. His 220 total was 10 shots behind Winter Springs' Hank Lebioda, who won by four shots over Orlando's Ryan Stovash.

In the boys 13-15 division, Bradenton Christian golfer Philip Knowles tied for fifth with a 220 total. After a first-round 80, Knowles closed with two strong 70s to finish 10 shots Reunion's Andy Zhang.
Zhang, who has played IMG Junior Golf Tour events in the past, made headlines this summer as the youngest player to ever play in the United States Open.

Here's how other locals that made the cut finished:

16-18 year old division

Danny Walker, tied for 13th, 222 total.
Ryan Wolfe, tied for 41st, 231 total.
Connor Baldwin, no card in final round.

13-15 year old division

Cole Johnson, 20th, 232 total.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

FSGA Boys Junior: Danny Walker in second after first round

Lakewood Ranch High rising junior Danny Walker is in the hunt of the 16-18 year old division of the 58th Florida State Boys' Junior Championship after a first-round 68 on Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass' Valley Course in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Walker, who claimed a state high school individual title as a freshman, is one shot behind Orlando's Ryan Stovash and is alone in second place.

Meanwhile, Parrish's Cole Johnson and Bradenton's Charles Sun are tied for ninth in the boys 13-15 division held at Sawgrass Country Club. Both players opened with 75s and are five strokes behind the pace.

The trio are the lone county players in the top 10 in either division.

Here's how other local players fared in the 16-18 division:

Jordan Miller, of Bradenton, shot 74 on the TPC Valley Course and is tied for 21st.

Ryan Wolfe, of Ellenton, shot 75 at Sawgrass Country Club and is tied for 29th.

Ramsey Touchberry, of Bradenton, shot 76 at TPC's Valley Course and is tied for 35th.

Hunter Sagar, of Bradenton, shot 77 at TPC's Valley Course and is tied for 49th.

Connor Baldwin, of Lakewood Ranch, shot 78 on TPC's Valley Course and is tied for 56th.

Kyle Benson, of Bradenton, shot 80 at Sawgrass Country Club and is tied for 73rd.

Connor Lynch, of Bradenton, shot 81 at TPC's Valley Course and is tied for 82nd.

Benjamin Boulch, of Bradenton, shot 88 at TPC's Valley Course and is tied for 110th.

And here's how the locals ended up in the 13-15 division, which all played Sawgrass Country Club on Tuesday:

Spencer Schultz, of Bradenton, shot 78 and is tied for 19th.

Philip Knowles, of Bradenton, shot 80 and is tied for 30th.

Andrew Hammett, of Bradenton, shot 83 and is tied for 39th.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Champions Tour: Tony Jacklin struggles in Players Championship first round

Bradenton resident and two-time major champion Tony Jacklin struggled in his first event of the 2012 Champions Tour season on Thursday.

Jacklin is dead-last in an 81-player field, after shooting a first-round 81 at the Constellation Senior Players Championship held in Pittsburgh.

Bruce Vaughan opened with a 6-under par 64 to hold a one-shot lead over Fred Funk.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Champions Tour: Tony Jacklin in Players Championship field

From left, Matt Hayes, John Vaccaro and two-time major champ Tony Jacklin watch fellow golfer Tony Baccari tee off during their May 20 round at The Concession. Photo provided by the West Florida Golf Tour.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2012/05/31/4058897/golf-local-amateurs-get-a-taste.html#storylink=cpy

Bradenton resident Tony Jacklin is in the field this week for the Champions Tour’s Constellation Senior Players Championship in Pittsburgh.

Jacklin, a two-time major champion, is making his season debut in the four-day tournament that gets underway on Thursday.

His first round tee time is 8:35 a.m., and Jacklin is slated to play alongside Jay Don Blake and Roger Chapman.

Jacklin is scheduled to participate in the Senior British Open next month. He tuned up for this week's event with a round on the West Florida Golf Tour.

He posted a 79 at Lakewood Ranch Country Club from the tips against much younger mini-tour pros last Thursday.

However, the tournament is one of several that Jacklin has participated in on the WFGT as preparation for his summer schedule.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Florida State Amateur: Philip Knowles leads area players

Bradenton Christian's Philip Knowles made the most of his first appearance in the Florida State Amateur.

Knowles won his way into the field of the 95th annual event through the local qualifier held at the Founders Club in Sarasota, and didn't disappoint once he teed it up late last week in Jupiter.

Knowles, who was an alternate and got into the local qualifier at the last minute when another player didn't show up, posted a 295 total to tie for fourth place in the 72-hole tournament.

His 71 in Sunday's final round was the lowest among all competitors in the field.

Panama City's Chase Seiffert claimed the title with a 287 total.

Saint Stephen's alum and current University of South Carolina golfer Sean Kelly finished with a 301 total.

IMG Academies alum and current University of Florida standout Tommy Mou (306) and Saint Stephen's rising senior Connor Lynch (320) rounded out locals that made the 36-hole cut.

Friday, June 15, 2012

United States Open: Second round coverage

Palmetto resident Sam Osborne just birdied the par-4 fifth hole to move to 8-over par in the 112th United States Open.

Osborne is starting off the front nine, which ended in a disastrous 6-over par total after beginning even-par through the first 10 holes in the first round.

Osborne's second round on Friday has witnessed one hiccup, a triple bogey on the par-4 second hole.

Since then, Osborne has played The Olympic Club's Lake Course in San Francisco in 1-under par over the past three holes.

He's tied for 103rd and in need of more birdies to make the cut.

Meanwhile, former IMG Academies standout Casey Wittenberg has backed up on Friday after a solid opening round.

Wittenberg posted a 1-over par 71 on Thursday, just five shots behind leader Michael Thompson.

He got off to another solid start, posting an even-par total through the first eight holes on Friday.

However, Wittenberg has bogeyed four of his last six holes and is tied for 57th place with a 4-over par cumulative total.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

United States Open: Sam Osborne makes ESPN TV coverage

Palmetto resident Sam Osborne has already been featured on ESPN's coverage of the 112th United States Open at the famed Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Osborne hit his approach on the 18th hole to within a foot that got him to even-par.

The birdie brought the 30-year-old Englishman into a tie for seventh place.

However, Osborne has since backed up. He double-bogeyed the par-4 first hole and sits at 2-over par for the tournament.

Michael Thompson fired a 4-under par 66, and is the current first-round leader by three shots over several players including Tiger Woods.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

United States Open: Andy Zhang not with IMG

This year's 112th United States Open will witness the youngest competitor in the major championship's history when Andy Zhang tees it up on Thursday.

The 14-year-old is in the field as an alternate after Paul Casey was forced to withdrew.

There are various reports circulating that Zhang trains at IMG Academies here in Manatee County.

IMG has stated that is incorrect, and  that Zhang only participated in a couple IMG Leadbetter Junior Golf Tour events.

Monday, June 11, 2012

West Florida Golf Tour: Summer Series first event

Logo provided by the WFGT.

Jon Mansfield fired a 6-under par 66 in Tony Jacklin's West Florida Golf Tour summer series debut event on Monday to take a one-shot lead into tomorrow's final round of the Ritz-Carlton Masters held at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in East Manatee.

Mansfield leads five players, including Nationwide Tour member Travis Hampshire, by one shot.

Cardinal Mooney alum Chris Kennedy is two shots behind after a 4-under par 68.

Kennedy leads the WFGT's Order of Merit (money list) for the current year.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

United States Open: Pairings released

The pairings for the 112th United States Open, scheduled to start next Thursday at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, were released today.

Palmetto resident Sam Osborne begins his first major championship appearance off the tenth tee alongside amateur Brooks Koepka at 2:42 p.m. (local time) and a player to be determined later.

Osborne and Koepka were paired together in the lone Florida sectional qualifier held at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto this past Monday.

Osborne, an English native, and Koepka play Friday's second round at 9:27 a.m. (local time) off the first tee.

For more on Osborne's upcoming U.S. Open appearance, check out Sunday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.

For full pairings, click here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

United States Open sectional: Sam Osborne qualifies

Sam Osborne at a West Florida Golf Tour event. Photo provided by the WFGT.

Sam Osborne was the only player from Manatee County to progress from the Florida sectional site at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto on Monday.

The Palmetto resident and Englishman shot a 3-under par 141 total to take one of three qualifying berths awarded into this month's United States Open.

The 112th edition of the men's golf major is scheduled for June 14-17 at the famed Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Osborne finished in second place in the 36-hole sectional to advance to his first Open and major of any kind.

However, yours truly has an interesting view on Osborne's game.


Because I caddied for Osborne at a West Florida Golf Tour event at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club last September for a story I wrote in the Bradenton Herald on the experience of what a caddy goes through at the professional level.

I also wrote about the differences in caddying at the club level like the Ritz, which uses a forecaddying system.

Osborne's game that day was everything I had heard about from some of his peers.

He hit the ball far, and struck iron shots crisp.

The putter, though, wasn't quite on all the time. He three-putted the final hole for a 3-under par 69 to tie for second in the event.

Perhaps I should have realized that potential would pay off several months later?

Despite the lack of Nostradamus skills, yours truly witnessed a player that mid-September day with all the tools necessary to make it on the big stage.

Now that big stage is arriving, and Osborne has a chance to test his talents against the top players in the world.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

United States Open: Florida sectional pairings

The lone sectional qualifier for the 112th United States Open in Florida is scheduled for Monday at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto.

Here's a look at when the three qualifiers from the local stage at Waterlefe as well as a couple more area players begin their 36-hole rounds:

IMG Academies Daniel Jaramillo starts at 7:25 a.m. off the first hole.

Bradenton Prep and University of Florida alum Arnond "Bank" Vongvanij starts at 7:49 a.m. off the 10th hole.

Palmetto resident Sam Osborne starts at 7:59 a.m. off the 10th hole.

IMG's Rigel Fernandes starts at 8:05 a.m. off the first hole.

IMG and UF alum Andres Echavarria starts at 8:29 a.m. off the 10th hole.

Tampa's Jeff Leonard, who was the medalist at Waterlefe, starts at 8:35 a.m. off the first hole.

LPGA Tour: ShopRite Classic pairings for locals

Several Manatee County golfers are playing in this week's ShopRite LPGA Classic that starts on Friday.

Here's a look at when they'll begin Friday's first round of the tournament, which was won by Brittany Lincicome last year (Lincicome, who has played in Manatee and Sarasota counties on the West Florida Golf Tour, starts her title defense at 8:55 a.m. off the first tee):

Hannah Yun tees off No. 1 at 7:25 a.m.

Paula Creamer tees off No.1 at 8:45 a.m.

Jessica Korda tees off No. 10 at 9:05 a.m.

Jodi Ewart tees off No. 1 at 12:00 p.m.

Victoria Tanco tees off No. 10 at 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

West Florida Golf Tour: Amateurs get a chance of a lifetime

Logo provided by the WFGT.

The West Florida Golf Tour's amateur branch concluded its season at the end of April.

However, the top three on the money list were given an incredible golfing experience: a round of golf with two-time major champion Tony Jacklin at The Concession Golf Club in East Manatee.

Tony Baccari, a scratch golfer, joined Matt Hayes (5-handicapper) and John Vaccaro (scratch) to round out the foursome with Jacklin, a World Golf Hall of Fame member.

To read more about this story, check out tomorrow's Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

United States Women's Open: Doris Chen medals

Bradenton's Doris Chen, a rising sophomore at the University of Southern California and IMG Academies alum, was the medalist with a 2-under par 142 total in the 36-hole United States Women's Open sectional qualifier at The Oaks Club.

Other locals weren't as fortunate, as just three players advanced to Blackwolf Run, site of July's U.S. Women's Open in Koehler, Wisc.

The most notable name to miss was Jodi Ewart. The Manatee County resident has played well on the LPGA Tour this season, posting two top 10 finishes.

However, a morning round of 79 doomed her chances.

Ewart, an England native, returned an afternoon round of 73, though.

Amateur Christina Miller, a University of South Florida standout, shot 79-76--155 to miss by seven shots.

For more on this story, check out tomorrow's Bradenton Herald.

To see the full results, click here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

United States Women's Open: Sectional moved to Tuesday

The United States Women's Open sectional qualifier at The Oaks Club in Osprey is on Tuesday.

Originally, it was listed for Monday.

The 36-hole event provides direct entry into the U.S. Women's Open, which is scheduled for July 5-8 at Blackwolf Run in Koehler, Wisc. Manatee County resident Jodi Ewart has notched two top 10 finishes on the LPGA Tour this season en route to more than $100,000 in earnings.

Nelly Korda, the younger sister to phenom Jessica, is scheduled to compete as well.

There are a host of other players in the field with ties to Manatee County.

Check back here tomorrow for a quick hit on who progressed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

United States Women's Open: Sectional pairings set for The Oaks

The pairings are set for Monday's United States Women's Open sectional qualifier at The Oaks Club in Osprey.

The field includes several area players, including Manatee County resident Jodi Ewart, Jessica Korda's younger sister Nelly and USF standout Christina Miller to name a few.

For the full pairings, click here.

Unlike the edition for the men, there is only qualifying stage for the Women's Open. And the sectional round is 36 holes in one day, which is set for Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

LPGA Tour: Jodi Ewart fares well at Match Play

Local resident Jodi Ewart didn't win this past week's Sybase Match Play Championship, but she performed well in the LPGA Tour event.

Ewart polished off two victories, before finishing tied for 9th - losing in the third round. Ewart, seeded No. 62 in the 64-player bracketed tournament, lost to eventual champion Azahara Munoz 2-and-1.

She earned $18,750 for the top 10 finish.

Also in the field was Bradenton's Jessica Korda, who won one match before falling in the second round.

Paula Creamer, a former IMG Academies standout, lost her opening round match.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ladies European Tour: Jaclyn Sweeney makes cut in Turkey on the number

Bradenton resident Jaclyn Sweeney fired a second round 76 to finish with a 153 total at the halfway stage of the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.

That 7-over par total was just good enough to earn Sweeney a payday on the Ladies European Tour as she made the cut on the number.

Players at 8-over par or worse did not advance to weekend play.

Christel Boeljon and Ursula Wikstrom share the 36-hole lead with 3-under par 143s.

Sweeney earned her 2012 LET card after last season's performance, but said at the inaugural Sara Bay Classic that she would focus her attention this year on the Symetra Tour, which provides direct access to the LPGA Tour.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Suncoast Ladies Series: Ginger Howard ties for seventh

Ginger Howard practices during last fall's LPGA Tour Q-School stage at the Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice. Jason Dill/jdill@bradenton.com
Bradenton's Ginger Howard rebounded from a second round 78 to fire a final round 75 in the Suncoast Ladies Series event at Grande Pines Resort in Orlando on Thursday.

The round, though, only gave her a tie for seventh place after she began the 54-hole tournament sharing the lead with eventual champion Maria Hjorth.

However, Howard's 6-over par tournament total earned her $600 as just 12 players earned paydays in the women's mini-tour event.

Bradenton resident Rachel Connor did not complete the three-day tournament as she withdrew following a 76-82--158 total through 36 holes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Suncoast Ladies Series: Ginger Howard falls from the lead

Ginger Howard practices following a round at the 2011 LPGA Tour Q-School stage at Venice's Plantation Golf & Country Club. Jason Dill/jdill@bradenton.com

Bradenton's Ginger Howard fell off the top of the leaderboard at this week's Suncoast Ladies Series event following second-round action at the Grande Pines Resort in Orlando on Wednesday.

Howard posted a 78 to falter to a tie for seventh place after sharing the first round lead when she fired a 68 on Tuesday.

Also in the field is Rachel Connor, who resides in Bradenton as well. Connor went backwards like Howard. Connor shot 82 in the second round and is in 25th place.

They both trail Maria Hjorth. The Swede sits with a 3-under par 141 total through 36 holes.

The final round is scheduled for Thursday.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Suncoast Series: Ginger Howard co-leads after first round

Ginger Howard practices following a round at last year's LPGA Tour Q-School stage at Venice's Plantation Golf & Country Club. Jason Dill/jdill@bradenton.com

Bradenton's Ginger Howard is off to a fast start in this week's Suncoast Ladies Series event at the Grande Pines Resort in Orlando.

Howard fired a 3-under par 69 to share the first-round lead with Sweden's Maria Hjorth after Tuesday's action.

The pair are two shots clear of the next group of players.

Bradenton resident Rachel Connor is also in the field. She's tied for 14th place after a 76.

The 54-hole tournament continues Wednesday and concludes Thursday.

United States Open: Sam Osborne medals in Tarpon Springs qualifier

Sam Osborne hits a tee shot during a West Florida Golf Tour victory at the Legacy Golf Club. Photo provided.

Palmetto resident and West Florida Golf Tour participant Sam Osborne fired a 68 to take medalist honors in the United States Open local qualifier held at Cypress Run Golf Club in Tarpon Springs on Monday.

The Englishman's round was especially strong as he was the lone player in the tournament's field to crack 70 on the day.

IMG Academies golfer Daniel Jaramillo, who hails from Colombia, won a battle for one of the two final qualifying slots.

Jaramillo shot 71 and joined St. Petersburg's Jack Maguire and Valrico's Matthew Galloway in a playoff for two spots.

Galloway, who plays on the WFGT, was given the first alternate slot after Jaramillo and Maguire earned the third and fourth qualifying berths from the Tarpon Springs site.

Cardinal Mooney alum Chris Kennedy and Sarasota's Joey Lamielle posted 72s, but lost out on the second and final alternate spot to Tampa's Doug Lacrosse.

Players progressing from local qualifying move to the section phase in early June. Those sectional qualifiers earn direct entry into the 2012 U.S. Open, golf's second major of the year, held at the famed Olympic Club in San Francisco June 14-17.

Monday, May 7, 2012

PGA Tour: Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler finally won his first PGA Tour title last Sunday.

But the real story is the look Fowler is sporting now.

He's added facial hair, but honestly, yours truly thinks he should dump the look.

It didn't bother his golf game, but where do you guys feel about it?

Let your voice be heard in the new poll on the right-hand side of the blog.

(Edited update: check out Fowler's look below in his post-round interview)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Local amateur: Phil Walters falters to third place finish in Sarasota City Men's Amateur

Bradenton's Phil Walters' bid to go wire-to-wire to capture the Sarasota City Men's Amateur at the Bobby Jones Golf Complex on Sunday failed when he fired an 80.

Walters held the lead after every round of the 72-hole, four-day, two-weekend tournament.

However, he ended up in third place, five shots behind Sarasota High's Nick Celestino, who won with a 282 total and a 69 on the British Course on Sunday.

Walters has had success in the local amateur scene, recently he teamed with Tim Judy in April to win the Bradenton City Men's Two-Man Combo title at River Run Golf Links.

The full results for each flight can be found here:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

LPGA Tour: Paula Creamer and Victoria Tanco in HSBC Brasil Cup field

Two female professional golfers with ties to Manatee County are in this week's LPGA Tour event field in South America.

Victoria Tanco and Paula Creamer both attended IMG Academies before embarking on a professional touring career.

Tanco, an Argentina native, is on her home continent for this week's HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup, held this weekend in Rio de Janeiro.

Creamer is in the 30-player tournament field, too.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Local amateur: Phil Walters on top of Sarasota City through 36 holes

Bradenton's Phil Walters leads the 2012 Sarasota Men's City Amateur Championship at the halfway stage heading into this weekend's action.

The 72-hole tournament is conducted over two weekends at Bobby Jones Golf Club's British Course in North Sarasota.

Walters fired two 68s for an 8-under par total, and a four-shot cushion heading into the third round that begins Saturday.

Currently, Sarasota Riverview golfer Michael Visacki is in second place.

The full results can be found here.

And third-round tee times can be found here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

LPGA Symetra Tour: Esther Choe wins again; Ginger Howard grabs second

Esther Choe tees off the first hole in the final round at the LPGA Symetra Tour's inaugural Sara Bay Classic. Jason Dill/jdill@bradenton.com

 Bradenton's Ginger Howard tied for second place a week after a disappointing finish in the LPGA Symetra Tour's inaugural Sara Bay Classic in southern Manatee County.

Howard fired a final-round 69 for a 213 total at the Riviera Nayarit Classic in Mexico to grab a $10,038 check.

She finished six shots behind Scottsdale, Ariz., resident Esther Choe, who captured her second consecutive title.

After scores were extremely high at Sara Bay Country Club the previous week - Choe won with a 1-over par total here - there were several rounds under par on the par-73 El Tigre Golf and Country Club layout.

Choe was chief among those players as she cracked par in each of the three rounds, going as low as 67 in the first round.

That might shake up her schedule plans, since Choe was uncertain what her future schedule would pan out following her first Symetra Tour title at Sara Bay due to full-time status on the Ladies European Tour.

Choe rose up the "Volvik Race for the Card," where the top 10 players at the end of the season earn an LPGA Tour card.

Choe, though, has travel and playing arrangements through June on the LET.

Howard also moved up on the money list with her performance. She's currently in seventh place.

Also performing well from the area was Bradenton's Jaclyn Sweeney, who snagged a top 10 finish with a 216 total.

It's Sweeney's second straight top 10.

Brief break: And we're back

The absence of blog posts the past few days is due to a little break that I took to attend a friend's wedding in New York this past weekend.

So posting will get back to a more regular frequency now that the weekend is over.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Prep golf: Lakewood Ranch's Hunter Sagar to Canisius

Hunter Sagar celebrates with his Lakewood Ranch High teammates after winning the team state title with a 103-0 season. Jason Dill/jdill@bradenton.com

Lakewood Ranch High senior Hunter Sagar, who also trains at the Missing Link Golf Academy, is heading to Division-I Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. next fall.

Sagar was a member of the undefeated state champion Mustangs after starting his prep career at Cardinal Mooney, and capped an incredible fall campaign with winning the City of Bradenton’s Men’s Amateur title in a sudden-death playoff.

Sagar was also the medalist at last year’s prestigious Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, and takes his golfing talents to the MAAC program in the fall.