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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

High school golf: Postseason begins Monday

The district golf tournaments start this week for various area programs. Lakewood Ranch's boys team is vying for an unprecedented fourth consecutive state championship, while local girls teams haven't claimed a team title since 2006 when the now-defunct Bradenton Prep accomplished the feat.

So here's  a primer on the district tourneys:

Class 3A-District 14
Where: Misty Creek Country Club, Sarasota (boys), Mission Valley Country Club, Nokomis (girls)
When: Monday starting at 8 a.m. (boys), Tuesday starting at 12:02 p.m. (girls)
Noteworthy: The Lakewood Ranch boys team, fresh off its record fourth straight Donald Ross Memorial Invitational and seventh consecutive Manatee County titles last week are the class of this district. On the girls side, Manatee features sisters Gianna and Gabrielle Tomeo that led the Hurricanes to a third place Ross showing. Venice, which won the Ross, is favored to take home district hardware as hosts in Nokomis. Braden River is the other area program competing.

Class 2A-District 19
Where: Golf Hammock Country Club, Sebring (boys and girls)
When: Tuesday starting at 9:27 a.m.
Noteworthy: The good news for area programs such as Palmetto and Southeast is that this is the perceived weakest district among the three featuring area programs. Bayshore, who has struggled to field enough players to report a team score this fall, is also scheduled to compete. Sarasota Military Academy’s boys team is favored to top the district. Other teams competing at the Sebring course include Wauchula Hardee, Arcadia DeSoto and Sarasota Booker.

Class 1A-District 17
Where: Bent Tree Country Club, Sarasota (boys), Tatum Ridge Golf Links, Sarasota (girls)
When: Monday starting at 10 a.m. (boys), Monday starting at 11:05 a.m. (girls)
Noteworthy: Saint Stephen’s finished fourth in the Ross and second in last week’s county tournament. To boot, Saint Stephen’s Jack Cen (runner-up at Ross, county individual champ) is peaking at the right time. Bradenton Christian’s Philip Knowles should compete for an individual spot if the Panthers don’t qualify as a team. Sarasota Christian, runners up in the Ross, is a district title contending team. Saint Stephen’s girls team, featuring sisters Michelle and Vanessa Yan, came close to repeating as Ross champs – falling nine shots shy of Class 3A Venice – and are favored to win. Michelle Yan captured the individual title. Cardinal Mooney and Out-of-Door Academy round out area programs in the field.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tip of the Week: Using Bounce for winning pitches

Local golf hero Paul Azinger's Golf Plan series is back for this week's top tip. Last week was about understanding bunker physics.

This week's tip is all about using bounce on your club for recovery shots around the green.

Bounce is located on the bottom of the club for pitch shots, where chip shots utilize the leading edge.

Here's what Zinger says about bounce:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

High School: Donald Ross Trivia

The Donald Ross Memorial Invitational was played for the 21st time this past Monday. By now you've read how Kelly Sun won his second straight individual boys title and his 69 anchored Lakewood Ranch's record-setting fourth consecutive team championship.

But who was the first boys individual winner of the annual 18-hole tournament held at the famed Sara Bay Country Club?

Check out the poll to the right to log in your answer. The correct answer will be revealed in one week.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday Rewind: Taking down No. 1

How does one defeat the best player in the world?

Simply play a solid final nine.

That's what Englishman Oliver Wilson did in winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship this past weekend.

Wilson registered nine runner-up performances on the European Tour between 2006 and 2009, while attaining a top 50 world ranking and playing in the 2008 Ryder Cup.

Unlike the top-ranked golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy, Wilson didn't play the previous week for Europe in the premier biennial match play tournament.

Meanwhile, Wilson went into the Scotland event ranked No. 792 in the world after a tough stretch where his form dipped significantly.

And on Sunday, Wilson didn't look like he'd be getting into the winner's circle after a hiccup early evaporated his lead over the field. Former British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen took command, and McIlroy was in the hunt, too.

But Wilson grinded birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 to right the ship, and eventually had a tap-in birdie on the 16th, a critical par-saver on the 17th and watched his competitors fall short on the 18th.

Not bad for a tournament invite, and it's more proof just how funny this game of golf can be at times.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

High School: Donald Ross Memorial Invitational set for Monday

The 21st annual Donald Ross Memorial Invitational is scheduled for Monday at Sara Bay Country Club. The high school golf tournament gives boys and girls golfers the chance to compete with their teams and as individuals in an 18-hole event to prepare for postseason play later in October.

The tournament boasts teams from Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties and is open to spectators to attend the event that begins with tee times at 8:30 a.m.

Braden River (boys), Bradenton Christian (boys), Lakewood Ranch (boys and girls), Manatee (boys and girls), Saint Stephen's (boys and girls), Cardinal Mooney (boys) and the Out-of-Door Academy (boys) are representing area schools.

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

Friday, October 3, 2014

Professional: Web.com Tour Qualifying School Update

The 2014 Web.com Tour's Qualifying School is already underway after the pre-qualifying stage was completed in September.

Here's a list of the players from the area that advanced to the upcoming first stage, scheduled throughout October at various venues across the United States beginning October 7, by the site they qualified from:

Brunswick, Ga. (Brunswick Country Club), top 45 and ties advanced
Lakewood Ranch's Jared Kobren (T-18, 1-over par 211)
Bradenton's  Steve Sowards (T-31, 4-over par 214)

Spring, Texas (Cypresswood Golf Club - Tradition), top 36 and ties advanced
Bradenton's Richard Lamb (T-7, 5-under par 139)

Florence, S.C. (Florence Country Club), top 44 and ties advanced
Lakewood Ranch High alum Rocky Khara (T-42, 4-over par 214)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tip of the Week: Bunker Physics

Bunker shots are one of the hardest ones to master for amateur golfers. Often, players can find it tough to just get out of the sand around the greens, watching their scores skyrocket as a result.

Meanwhile, professionals prefer a wayward shot finding the sand, providing it's a good lie, because they can spin and control distance on the ball with consistency.

The last United States Ryder Cup winning captain and 1993 PGA Championship winner Paul Azinger was known for his tremendous bunker game during his PGA Tour days.

Zinger, who lives in Bradenton, offers this tip in his GolfPlan series on understanding the key facet of bunker play: physics. Once Azinger learned this concept, he went from a bad bunker player to leading the PGA Tour in sand saves three times as he says on the video below:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Juniors: Mika Liu leads Team USA to victory

IMG Academy's Mika Liu won the inaugural World Junior Girls Championship in Canada on Wednesday, and was part of the victorious United States in the team portion.

Liu's 9-under par 279 total earned her a three-shot victory over teammate Megan Kang.

Team USA secured the team title by 18 shots over Sweden.

For more golf highlights from Manatee County players, check out Thursday's Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday Rewind: Ryder Cup

By now, you watched the destruction: another European victory in the Ryder Cup.

The United States struggled in the best ball format on Friday and Saturday at Gleneagles in Scotland, and the result was the difference for Paul McGinley's men.

Europe snagged a 7-1 cushion in both sessions using the foursome format en route to winning the 40th Ryder Cup 16 1/2-11 1/2. Team USA, which hasn't won since 2008 and has not claimed the trophy on European soil since 1993, seems lost.

So how does the United States remedy this issue?

Bring back Paul Azinger as captain! The longtime Manatee County resident was the last winning Team USA captain, and he came up with a winning group formula to accomplish the feat at Valhalla in 2008.

I'm all for giving different past Ryder Cup stars the chance to captain their side when it's their time, but why not give Azinger the ball when the United States clearly needs a leader that has a proven track record?

The Europeans kept another current Manatee County resident, Tony Jacklin, around as captain for a long spell in the 1980s and the reward with that patience is being felt today.

Jacklin became captain for the European squad in 1983 for the first time, and the team narrowly lost 14 1/2-13 1/2.
That close call was the most competitive Europe had been since the 1969 event when only Great Britain & Ireland was represented. That year's Ryder Cup is best remembered for being the first tie in Ryder Cup history that sparked the inspiration for The Concession Golf Club's co-design by Jack Nicklaus and Jacklin in East Manatee County. Nicklaus conceded a short putt to Jacklin at Royal Birkdale in England back in '69 to produce that tie.

Jacklin's playing moxie was enough to earn him captain honors in 1983, and the European side didn't choose a new captain after the close defeat of that year. Rather, they stuck with Jacklin, who delivered the goods in 1985, '87 and '89.

In fact, Europe has been on such a role since Jacklin had his spell as captain that it is time for Team USA to take a page out of that playbook.

If Hollywood likes bringing top British television shows across the pond and make them successful here, then why can't it work in sports, particularly with golf and the Ryder Cup?

So PGA of America, listen up: bring back Zinger as captain for 2014 or else face the continued stretch of European dominance. It's now 11 of the last 15 Ryder Cups that have gone to Europe.

Wake up!