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.