Saturday, December 31, 2005

STPGA 2005 Awards

The Southern Texas PGA will have its annual meeting in San Antonio in a couple weeks, and the section will be handing out a boatload of awards for 2005.

The big ones are the sectionwide awards:

  • Professional of the Year: This year, it's Glenn Lee, director of golf at The Hills of Lakeway in Austin.
  • Harvey Penick Teacher of the Year: Jim Hardy, who designs courses with Peter Jacobsen but also is one of the most highly regarded instructors in America. Hardy released a very highly regarded book this year called The Plane Truth for Golfers.
  • Dick Forester Quarter Century Award: Ron Coville, head pro at Walden Golf Club in Montgomery
  • Junior Golf Leader: Steve Hammond, director of golf at Austin’s Jimmy Clay/Roy Kizer Golf Complex
  • Horton Smith Award: Cary Collins, San Antonio
  • Bill Strausbaugh Award: David Findlay, teaching professional at Humble’s Redstone Golf Club
  • Merchandisers of the Year: Miki Goodger, head golf professional at South Padre Island Golf Club in Laguna Vista (Resort Facility); Doug DeSive, head golf professional at Corpus Christi Country Club (Private Facility); and Jeff Strong, head golf professional at Mont Belvieu’s Eagle Pointe Golf Club (Public Facility)
  • Assistant Golf Professional of the Year: Matt Trevino, The Club at Sonterra in San Antonio
  • Amateur of the Year: Ron Kilby, McAllen
  • Junior Golfers of the Year: Eric Durbin, Houston, and Ginny Brown, Austin
  • Media/Public Relations Award: Harry Phillips, Houston
  • Player of the Year: Chip Craig, teaching professional at The Deerwood Club in Kingwood

In addition, the three chapters within the STPGA also name their own slate of award winners. For the complete rundown, including the chapter awards plus more information about the section awards, read the full story here.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tournaments at Lajitas

There aren't many Texas golfers who get to play The Ambush at Lajitas. And that has more to do with cost than with the remoteness of the property along the Rio Grande. The Lajitas resort is one of the swankiest in the state, and most of us can't afford the few-hundred-dollars-a-night room rates, much less the three-figure green fees.

But there is a way to get in on some golf at The Ambush without having to stay at the resort. The Ambush has announced a series of 10 tournaments, open to resort guests and non-guests alike. The entry fees for non-guests are pricey, but it's still a cheaper option for golf than paying for both a room and a round.

The first tournament, Jefe's Fiesta, takes place Jan. 14-15 and is a two-person blind-draw scramble. Guest fee is $245. Hey, we said it was still pricey.

The Ambush, as we've mentioned before, is being renovated from a green, parkland course into a true desert golf course. Around 50,000 native desert plants are being added, among other changes.

The full schedule of 10 tournaments at The Ambush in 2006 can be found by browsing the resort's events schedule at www.lajitas.com/events.html.

Top 10 Stories in Central Texas

Doug Smith uses his weekly local golf column in the Austin American-Statesman to count down his picks for the 10 biggest stories of 2005 in Central Texas golf.

No. 1 is the PGA Tour victory of Wes Short Jr., a lifelong Austin resident who began work as a club pro in 1983. Go check out the full list.

(If you need a user name/password to access the AAS site, check out bugmenot.com.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Boot Ranch and the Louisiana Police Retirement System

Boot Ranch is the name of an upscale development outside of Fredericksburg, the centerpiece of which is supposed to be an ultra-exclusive golf club with membership limited to 300. The course and its surrounding neighborhood of million-dollar homes are being developed by the company of Louisiana native and Texas resident Hal Sutton.

We've written before about Boot Ranch here, here and here. Read those posts in that order to get some good background on the project and its role in the Municipal Police Employees Retirement Systems (MPERS) of Louisiana.

Here's the latest: an outside accounting firm was brought in to take a look at MPERS' finances, and what they discovered is that all three of the Hal Sutton golf developments in which Louisiana police employees' retirement funds are invested are, so far, losers.

Specifically about Boot Ranch, here is what was reported by the Baton Rouge newspaper, the Advocate:

The audit contains little information about the status of Boot Ranch – a 2,200-acre Texas golf resort for which MPERS guaranteed a $30-million line of credit, none of which has been repaid. A page in the report for detailing revenues and operating expenses lists only $5,470 in unspecified revenues.

According to an initial agreement, the upscale development was to have made $27 million in sales by now. Developers have yet to release any specific sales results, but the last announcement in October indicated they have sold eight of the 61 home sites and fewer than 30 of the 300 golf-club memberships. MPERS officials have blamed the situation on delays by the county government in processing documents needed to begin construction.

Doesn't look like things have picked up much at Boot Ranch, eh?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Balls

The bad news: I didn't get a single golf-related item for Christmas. Not even a 12-pack of golf balls, which is the perfect gift for in-laws to buy for their daughter Birdie McDuff's idiot husband. (On the other hand, I still have about 12 dozen boxes of balls stacked in my "golf closet" from previous Christmases.)

The good news: I didn't get any chocolate-covered cherries, either.

Friday, December 23, 2005

He's Nationwide

Our friend David Fineg, owner of Ten Cups Driving Range in San Antonio, made it into Golf Digest's "Birdies and Bogeys" yearend roundup. Under the headline, "This guy's so tough he even gave Tiger the evil eye before letting him in," Golf Digest writes: "A driving-range operator in San Antonio bans drivers, saying amateurs can't hit them well enough."

Actually, only men aged 16-60 aren't allowed to hit driver at Ten Cups. Women, juniors and seniors can use driver anytime they like. Men in the suspect age range can also hit driver - if they pass the "drivers license" exam. And as many as fairways as Tiger misses these days, he might not pass the test.

See previous post here for further explanation of the Ten Cups drivers license exam.

Aside

The "golf editor" at BellaOnline.com, Letta Meinen, lives in Salado. Her site is at http://www.bellaonline.com/site/Golf. The "golf editor" at About.com, Brent Kelley, lives in San Antonio. His site is at http://golf.about.com.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Walker Set for Early Return

San Antonio's Jimmy Walker, the 2004 Nationwide Tour money leader, is set to return earlier than expected from the medical woes that derailed his rookie season on the PGA Tour.

Walker will tee it up in Hawaii at the Sony Open, the first full-field tournament on the 2006 PGA Tour Schedule, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Walker missed the majority of the 2005 season after injuring his neck at last year's Sony Open. He never recovered, playing just nine events. Walker applied for and was granted a medical exemption for 2006.

The paper reported:

The medical exemption requires that in addition to that 2005 total, he earns another $470,886 and matches the $626,736 earnings of the player ranked 125th on the 2005 money list, Nick Price. If he accomplishes that through exemptions in 20 events, he would play his way out of major medical category and regain full tour playing privileges.

"I know what I can do over the course of a year," Walker said. "Staying healthy is going to be the trick."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Houston's Texas Golf League Draws Corporate, Church Teams

Teams representing Halliburton and Sagemont Church won the corporate and church divisions, respectively, in the recently completed 2005 season of the Texas Golf League. Now the TGL is looking for more golfers and teams for its 2006 season.

Halliburton defeated Hewlett-Packard in its final match (with the help of some favorable rulings from Dick Cheney*), while Sagemont Church beat St. Thomas Episcopal.

Each team must field four players at each tournament. The four person team is split into two two-man teams, which are paired against two-person teams from other companies or churches. The two-man teams then play head-to-head matches using a modified stableford system with handicaps.

Matches are played on some of the best courses around Houston. The 2006 season begins in March. While the league is played primarily for "the fun of the game, corporate networking and church fellowship," there are also some prizes at stake.

If you're in Houston and want to organize a team to represent your company or church for the 2006 TGL season, send an email to TexasGolfLeague@yahoo.com.

(*just kidding)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Odessa Bucks the Trend

Many cities in recent years have sold off their municipal golf courses to private course management companies, or to development firms. Others are discussing the possibility - San Antonio, for example, has an ongoing debate about selling off at least a couple of its city-owned tracks.

Odessa has gone the opposite direction. The Odessa city council voted in its most recent meeting to purchase Ratliff Ranch Golf Course and run it as a municipal golf facility. Odessa golfers should be very pleased.

At least once councilman was not. From the Odessa American Statesman:

After a 13-minute executive session and prior to the open session vote, District 3 Councilman Royce Bodiford said he could not approve the purchase.

Bodiford said that although the golf course would enhance the quality of life for many Odessans, he did not think the purchase was fiscally prudent in light of other city needs.

He specifically mentioned rapidly increasing costs, higher fuel bills and more public transportation as city concerns.

"Fiscally prudent" is the key word. What with all the daily fee golf course construction around the state (and the country) during the past 15 years, many cities have a much tougher time these days making money with their muni golf courses. So the question becomes, should the city subsidize its golf course(s) with funds from elsewhere in the budget, or consider dumping its courses?

I suppose most of the people in the city government in Odessa feel the city can make money with Ratliff Ranch. But to do so, they better manage Ratliff Ranch as a daily fee, rather than applying the same ol' muni management tactics used in so many other Texas cities (you know: skimp on personnel, skimp on maintenance, just plain skimp.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Seminar: Golf Is Fun

We've written before about the Ten Cups driving range in San Antonio and its offbeat owner David Fineg. You remember: the driving test for any golfers who want to use a driver on the range.

When you get right down to the crux of David's philosophy of golf (and of life, too, I imagine), it's very simple, and it is this: golf is supposed to be fun. If you aren't having any, you might want to show up for one of David's twice-daily seminars - titled "Golf Is Fun" - that he'll be giving at Ten Cups beginning on Dec. 21.

But is a seminar fun? I've no doubt that it will be, as given by Mr. Fineg. The seminars are free and held every day, excluding weekends, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. No reservations necessary, just show up. The seminar is designed to show you how to get more enjoyment out of the game.

If you want a preview of David's philosophy, check out the article "Golf is fun - why aren't you having any?" on San Antonio Golf. Better yet, visit the Ten Cups website and browse for a while.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Comments Back On

I've turned the comments feature back on, since Blogger has been kind enough to add word verification in an effort to stem the rising tide of comment spam.

We're still planning a move to new, improved platform, with expanded features - a move we'll be making when my Forrest Gump-lookalike friend finishes building the new site. Forrest himself would have been finished a long time ago. (Consider me a proto-Gump, since I could build the new site myself, rather than whining about the snail's pace of my buddy, if only I was, well, smart enough.)

Tight Lies Tour 2006 Schedule

A tentative 2006 schedule for the Tight Lies Tour is posted on the tour website. A total of 19 or 20 events is expected, with about half the tournaments taking place in Texas.

I noticed immediately that my hometown of Corpus Christi is without a tournament next year. But these cities will get a visit from the Tight Lies Tour: Victoria, Houston, Garland, Lubbock, Round Rock, Texarkana, Abilene and El Paso. A couple more sites have yet to be determined.

The Tight Lies Tour is one of the best-paying mini-tours in the U.S. and has produced such players as Ryan Palmer, Cameron Beckman, J.L. Lewis and Tim Herron. Tour events are a good mix of young guns looking to get ahead and older pros still enjoying the thrill of competition.

Monday, December 12, 2005

New Book About Texas Golf

"Links, Lore and Legends: The Story of Texas Golf" is the latest book by Texas golf writer Art Stricklin. The book gets a very good review on Cybergolf from Dr. John Wagner, a member of the USGA Green Section and director of the Washington State Golf Association.
Wagner says:
This is a terrific book about the history of Texas golf. It is accessibly formatted, with chapters broken into 10-year increments that illustrate how much the Lone Star State has contributed to the game.

Art Stricklin takes the very beginnings of golf in Texas and makes the people and players come alive. His short stories of the people and their backgrounds help make “Links, Lore and Legends” lively reading.
Art even managed to get Byron Nelson and Lee Trevino to write forewords. I haven't picked up a copy yet, but I probably will now. Or maybe I'll just try to weasel a free review copy ...

Hackers Tour Championship

Congratulations to Barry Barron and Glen James for teaming to win The Hackers Tour 2005 Championship at The Tribute on Saturday.

The Hackers Tour also handed out a few awards:
  • Member of the Year: Mike Gonzales; runner-up, Bill Thomas
  • Player of the Year: Rick Gallardo; runner-up, Mike Bramlett

The Hackers Tour is a large organization that stages a boatload of tournaments around DFW for "average" golfers looking for competition and the chance to compete for cash prizes. The tour has some big plans for the future, too.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Off Topic: The Cooperstown Kid

Just a quick note to give a plug to a new blog (really new: started yesterday) written by a buddy of mine. It's called Cooperstown Hotline. If you're a baseball fanatic, or more specifically, a fantasy baseball nut, check it out. My friend is definitely a nut, but thankfully channels his obsessions in the healthy direction of baseball (while most of us, of course, channel ours into golf).

Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

HollyHills' San Antonio Vision

HollyHills is a California-based development company that has some big plans brewing in San Antonio. So big that I can't wait to see how they play out. Or, more accurately, whether they play out.

One thing HollyHills is doing is developing the Briggs Ranch area west of Downtown, about halfway between San Antonio and Castroville via Highway 90. Briggs Ranch is probably a familiar name to many of our readers. The Briggs Ranch Golf Club is an ultra-exclusive private course; The Golf Club of Texas, an adjacent public course, was originally named The Golf Club of Texas at Briggs Ranch.

HollyHills recently purchased the public Golf Club of Texas, plus a lot of land adjacent to both GCT and the private Briggs Ranch Golf Club. The developer plans to build another golf course on part of its new land, as part of a resort that will also include a hotel and high-end housing. (GCT would remain a public course.)

And that's the easy part of HollyHills' plan. Here's the hard part: Turning the depressed Eastide area around the SBC Center (home of the Spurs) into a huge sports and resort complex.

Part of that plan calls for the city-owned Willow Springs Golf Course - directly across the street from the SBC Center - to be purchased by HollyHills, refurbished, and re-opened as a resort golf course. Around it will be, the company claims, resort hotels, shopping districts, and various sports venues: a NASCAR-caliber speedway; an NFL-caliber stadium; perhaps an MLB-caliber stadium as well.

And HollyHills claims it can do all that with little or no public money. This all sounds terrific. But put me firmly in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp, at least on the Eastside project.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Another Graduating Class: PGA PGM

A handful of Texans are among the 89 graduates of the most recent PGA Professional Golf Management program. I'm sometimes asked by an emailer how they can become a PGA professional. Here's the short answer on the best route:

1. Become very good at golf.
2. Find a college or university that offers the PGA PGM program, and go there.

Here are those Texas graduates:

Gordon Bass, McKinney
Stuart L. James, Houston
Jeff P. Langas, Arlington
Alan W. Rasberry, Mansfield
Willie J. Shankle, Houston
James E. Stevens IV, San Antonio

If you're curious, there are currently 14 schools that offer the 4-5 year PGA PGM program. You can see the list, and learn more about the program, here.

Lietzke, Garcia Join TPC San Antonio Team

The PGA Tour announced yesterday that Bruce Lietzke and Sergio Garcia will serve as player consultants to Pete Dye and Greg Norman, respectively, during the design and construction of the TPC San Antonio project. You can read the press release at San Antonio Golf.

Quick aside: The resort's name will be Cibolo Canyons. The Dye-designed TPC Course will almost certainly be named ... the TPC Course. The name of Norman's course is up for grabs.

Back to scheduled post: It must be strange to be Pete Dye - designer of hundreds of golf courses, some of them considered among the best in the world, as well as having been a great amateur golfer back in the day - and have Bruce Lietzke assigned to assist you in your next design. I'm sure that Lietzke - arguably the best golfer of all-time without a major championship victory - will offer insightful, valuable ideas. But I doubt that any of them will be ideas Dye wouldn't come up with on his own. Perhaps Lietzke's true role will be to keep Dye from designing one of his famously difficult tracks (kudos to me for avoiding use of the adjective "Dye-abolical" ... doh! I just used it!), this course being, after all, the future home of a PGA Tour event.

But this is what the Tour does with every golf course it owns. It hires a great designer, or farms the project out to the PGA Tour Design Group, then names a player consultant. The PGA Tour exists for PGA Tour golfers, after all, and one of them will be involved, by gosh.

Garcia has worked with Norman on a course design in the past, but telling Greg Norman that Sergio Garcia will be his consultant is sort of like telling John Feinstein that Bogey McDuff will be consulting on his next golf book. (But if you need some help, John, just drop me a line.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Byrum Leads Texas Contingent at Q-School

Veteran Tom Byrum, of Richmond, posted three rounds in the 60s and closed with a 70 on Monday in the final stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, earning his PGA Tour card with a fifth-place finish.

Byrum lead three Texans who grabbed Tour cards, and several others who earned status with the Nationwide Tour.

Unlike Byrum, Michael Connell of Richardson and B.J. Staten of Dallas had no status on the PGA Tour entering Q-School. But like Byrum, both now have their Tour cards for 2006; each finished tied for 26th.

Golfers had to finish in the Top 32 to earn exempt status on the PGA Tour in 2006. The following 46 players in the final standings earned exempt status on the Nationwide Tour for 2006; the remaining finishers have non-exempt status on the Nationwide in 2006.

Here are how the Texans fared:

PGA Tour Card
t5 Tom Byrum, Richmond, -17
t26 Michael Connell, Richardson, -11
t26 B.J. Staten, Dallas, -11

Nationwide Tour - Exempt
t33 Jeff Burns, San Antonio, -10
t59 Roland Thatcher, The Woodlands, -6
t73 *Cameron Beckman, San Antonio, -4

Nationwide Tour - Non-Exempt
t79 Craig Kanada, The Woodlands, -3
t102 *Hunter Haas, Dallas, E
138 Keoke Cotner, Bedford, +7
t142 Brad Lardon, Austin, +10

The asterisks (*) next to Cameron and Haas denote that these two golfers went into Q-School with conditional status on the PGA Tour for 2006 already in hand based on their finish on the money list this year. Beckman was 152nd on the 2005 money list, Haas 166th. Both players have non-exempt status on the PGA Tour. What does this mean? It means they'll get into a handful of PGA Tour events next year when players who finished ahead of them on the money list decide not to play; and if Beckman and Haas don't get into that week's PGA Tour tournament, they'll then look to the Nationwide Tour tournament of the week.

That's the same situation that Omar Uresti, a former University of Texas standout who's well-known around Austin, also finds himself in. Uresti was 136th on the money list this year, and he placed 42nd at Q-School finals. So he has non-exempt status on the big tour and fully exempt status on the Nationwide for 2006.

The full Q-School results are available here.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lang, Cano Eke Onto LPGA Tour

Brittany Lang of McKinney and Christi Cano of San Antonio earned their LPGA Tour cards on Sunday by surviving a 3-way playoff, grabbing the final two of 24 fully exempt tour cards up for grabs at the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School.

Lang is well-known - collegiate phenom at Duke; runner-up performance at the U.S. Women's Open earlier this year - and she probably expected to get her card with ease. It wasn't easy, but she did get her card. Lang posted rounds of 70-72-75-73-73 for a final score of 3-over par.

Cano is not well-known. A high school standout in San Antonio, she was a solid player for four years at Oklahoma State University. She's played a few events on the Futures Tour, but since graduating from college a couple years ago has spend most of her time as a pro in San Antonio. She earned a Futures Tour card for 2005, but played just a couple events because she was unable to find financial backing. Cano won't have that trouble in 2006. She posted rounds of 71-73-74-72-73 to earn her shot at LPGA glory.

My longtime fave Kelli Kuehne didn't fare as well, finishing in a tie for 11th among those golfers who failed to earn exempt status. That means Kuehne has non-exempt status for 2006 - the same status she went into the Q-School finals with. With her name recognition, she shouldn't have too much trouble finding her way into a good number of tournaments next year, but it's very unlikely she'll be able to put together a full season's worth of events.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bowie Helps Out Scholarship Fund

Kudos to LPGA golfer and University of Texas alum Heather Bowie for helping out a fledgling scholardship fund by offering to play in a benefit golf tournament.

The Matt and Adam Haynie Charity Golf Tournament will be played for the first time on Sunday at Fort Worth's Pecan Valley facility. The tournament benefits scholarship funds set up in the names of Matt and Adam Haynie - a pair of brothers who died a year apart, Matt in 2003 and Adam in 2004 - by the brothers' parents.

According to a story in a local neighborhood newspaper, Bowie's involvement came about because her brother-in-law knew the late brothers. Read about it here.

South Claims Joe Black Cup Matches

The Joe Black Cup is a Ryder Cup-style yearly match pitting teams of professional representing the Southern Texas PGA and Northern Texas PGA. This year, the Black Cup was contested in Austin on the Fazio Canyons Course, and the STPGA eked out a 12.5 to 11.5 victory.

The individual match results are available here. And here is the recap from the STPGA:

The Southern Texas PGA’s team of 12 professionals entered the singles competition of the 2005 Texas Joe Black Cup Matches down by a single point to their counterparts and came back to capture seven of the 12 one-on-one matches to win the 25th renewal of the annual competition, held this year on the Fazio Canyons Course at Austin’s’ Barton Creek Resort and Spa.

The Northern Texas PGA, which had won three of the Ryder Cup-style competitions in a row, had taken a 6-1/2 to 5-1/2 point lead over the Southern Texas PGA after six four-ball matches and an equal number of foursome matches. Two of the latter were completed on the final day of the competition after being called due to darkness on the first day.

Southern Texas PGA President Dale Morgan defeated the Northern Texas PGA President Tom Campbell by a 1-up margin in the first singles match of the day to get the southerners off to a fast start. The remainder of the day was a back-and-forth affair, with the Southern Texas PGA finally surging to the win, taking 3-1/2 of the final 4 points available to capture the competition by a 12-1/2 to 11-1/2 margin.

The defending champion NTPGA team had needed only 12 points to retain the trophy; the STPGA captured the minimum 12-1/2 points it needed to take the Joe Black Cup home. The Northern Texas PGA holds a 13-12 lead in the 25-year-old series.

Next year’s Texas Joe Black Cup Matches will be hosted by the Northern Texas PGA at a site to be determined.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

2006 Nationwide Tour Championship in Houston

The PGA Tour announced today that the 2006 Nationwide Tour Championship will be played in Houston on the Rees Jones-designed track at The Houstonian Golf and Country Club.

Dates for the 2006 event are Nov. 9-12. The Houston Golf Association will be the organizing body.

The Nationwide Tour Championship is the season-ending shebang for the Triple-A tour, limited to the top 60 golfers on the Nationwide Tour money list.

Lajitas Shenanigans

There's been a brouhaha, well, brewing, out in Lajitas over the past few months. Or, according to some, since 2000, when Austin multimillionaire Steve Smith showed up, bought the remote outpost on the Rio Grande River, and set about creating his luxury getaway resort.

We told you a few months back that the golf course at Lajitas, The Ambush, is being converted from a lush, parkland design to a desert course. That's not the only construction going on at the "ultimate hideway," however. Beginning early next year, the State of Texas will re-route FM 170 so that it loops around Smith's swanky resort, rather than bypassing it.

Most of the locals - the hardy group of people who've lived in Lajitas since well before the entire town was purchased by Smith - aren't happy about it. They accuse Smith of using his money to peddle influence, and of various politicians and officials of being influenced. It's a boondoggle, a giveaway of taxpayer money to the local fatcat, according to critics.

The Austin American-Statesman has the latest roundup on the situation. Check it out. (If you're asked for login information and don't have any, try using bugmenot.com.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Bernhard Langer in Tyler

Bernhard Langer is a noted golf ball-thumper and Bible-thumper. He's also a noted nice guy. This article in the Tyler newspaper tells the story of Langer passing through town to attend a Christian retreat, getting into a conversation in a restaurant, then taking an interest in a young boy struggling with his golf game. Athletes who constantly invoke God, as if the Big Guy is sitting up there in the sky taking sides in some silly athletic contest, are one of my pet peeves. But there's no doubting Langer's sincerity, or his generosity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fergus Plays Ways Onto Champions Tour

Keith Fergus of Sugar Land was among the seven golfers to earn full exempt status for the 2006 Champions Tour at the tour's final stage Q-School tournament last weekend.

Fergus, a longtime PGA Tour player, finished the six rounds at 434, tied for third place and five strokes behind medalist Massy Kuramoto.

Fergus was the only Texan to qualify this year. Other Texans in the field included David Lundstrom (443) of Houston; Perry Arthur (449) of Plano; and Doug Higgins (451) of Fort Worth.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

PGA Q-School - More Stage 2 Results

The final three of the six stage two qualifiers for the PGA Tour finished up over the weekend. Here are the Texans who advanced into the final stage (a golfer had to finish in the Top 19 and ties at each stage two qualifier to move on):

Oak Valley Golf Club, Beaumont, Calif.
Craig Kanada, The Woodlands, 288
Full Results

Jay Don Blake won this regional. Other recognizable names moving on included Matt Gogel and Aaron Barber. Among those failing to advance in this qualifier were McAllen's Jaime Gomez, just a stroke out of the Top 19, plus Steve Pate, Rick Fehr, Willie Wood, Dennis Paulson and Duffy Waldorf.

No Texans advanced out of the other two qualifiers, but you can see who did (and didn't) here and here.

Duval on the Upswing?

David Duval finished tied for 7th at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, against a very strong international field (Tiger Woods won in a playoff). Duval sort of stumbled to the finished line with a final-round 75, but he was the first-round leader with a 64, and finished at 2-under for the tournament.

Duval made exactly one cut this year prior to the Dunlop Phoenix, and that was in San Antonio at the Texas Open. I recall that at the time, Duval told the San Antonio Express-News something like this: "I'm playing well enough to win tournaments, I'm just not scoring."

He scored in Japan this week. Can Duval be on the way back? Hopefully, the Texas Open being the only place he made a cut in the U.S. this year will at least bring him back to San Antonio in 2006.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

No Comment(s)

Just a housekeeping note: I've had to turn off the "Comments" feature due to too much comment spam. Not a big deal, since we only have a few people who occasionally posted legitimate comments, but my apologies to those folks.

We're working on a new, improved Texas Golf site that will incorporate a few great features in addition to the blog. But the blog will also change, switching to a new platform, one that I hope will allow us to bring back the Comments. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

59 For Former Coog

Aussie Brad McIntosh, a former University of Houston golfer, was playing Down Under last week in the Queensland PGA Championship. That's an event on the Von Nida Tour, sort of the Nationwide Tour equivalent on the Australasian circuit.

Why are we mentioning this? Because McIntosh fired a 59 - the first-ever 59 in a professional event in Australia.

"I knew I had a chance to break 60 with a few holes to go, and my playing partner Peter Senior was telling me he hadn’t seen a 59 before,” said McIntosh following the round. “I hit a beautiful approach shot on the final hole with my (Wilson) Pi5 sand wedge up to about three feet to set up my birdie for the 59. The course was perfect for scoring."

I guess one thing McIntosh learned spending his collegiate years in Texas is how to work in that NASCAR-like mention of the sponsor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tommy Two Gloves

Have you been watching "The Big Break" this season? Me neither. Well, except to check it out in a couple early episodes.

There was one guy who stood out, not necessarily for his golf for his approach to golf. Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, so nicknamed because he wears gloves on both hands. His swing is, well, odd. He describes it as a baseball swing. I'll just say that it makes Jim Furyk's swing look positively Snead-like.

But good on ya, Tommy, for cashing a $50,000 check by winning the U.S. Pro Golf Tour's Tour Championship last weekend. It's the biggest paycheck of Tommy Two Gloves' career. But bad on ya, Tommy, for knocking off a Texan to do it. PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour vet Kelly Grunewald, of Grand Prairie, caught Gainey during the final round before finishing a stroke back.

Calling All Longhorns

... because this note will probably be of interest only to UT grads and fans. The ribbon was recently cut at the UT Golf Academy. The academy is part of the University of Texas Golf Club in Steiner Ranch (which, I once read somewhere, even allows Aggies to join). The women's golf coach at UT calls the new setup "some of the best facilities in the country".

Monday, November 14, 2005

PGA Q-School - Stage 2 Results

Three of the six stage-two qualifiers - including both held in Texas - for the PGA Tour Q-School final were completed over the weekend. Three more are played this week. Here is a rundown of the Texas golfers who advanced from stage two to the Q-School finals:

Deerwood Golf Club, Kingwood
Roland Thatcher, The Woodlands, 285
Jeff Burns, San Antonio, 285
Cameron Beckman, San Antonio, 286
Tom Byrum, Richmond, 287
B.J. Staten, Dallas, 287
Brad Lardon, Austin, 288
Full Results

Golfers had to finish in the Top 19 plus ties to advance. Recognizable names moving on included Bill Glasson, Steve Stricker, Jason Allred, Brian Henninger, Matthias Gronberg, Dan Forsman and Franklin Langham. Some recognizable names who failed to advance from this regional included Craig Bowden, Jim Gallagher Jr., Brendan Pappas, Glen Day, Matt Weibring, Brian Watts and Emlyn Aubrey. David Frost withdrew following the third round.

Stonebridge Country Club, Dye Course, McKinney
Michael Connell, Richardson, 285
Hunter Haas, Dallas, 286
Keoke Cotner, Bedford, 288
Full Results

Top 19 plus ties advanced. Some of the recognizable names advancing: D.A. Points, Brad Adamonis, D.J. Brigman and Jim Carter. San Antonio's Greg Hiller missed by one shot. Among the recognizable names failing to advance: Spike McRoy.

No Texans advanced out of the third stage two qualifying site last week. It was held in California, and the results are here. Recognizable names advancing from that location include: Skip Kendall, Larry Mize, Boo Weekly, Phillip Price and Pat Bates. Recognizable names failing to advance included: Glen Hnatiuk, David Morland IV, Dicky Pride, Scott Gump, Jaxon Brigman of Fort Worth, Paul Gow, John Maginnes, Casey Wittenburg and Dick Mast. Nolan Henke and Mac O'Grady withdrew following the third round.

North Tops South in TGA Texas Shoot-Out Matches

The final event of the Texas Golf Association tournament season wrapped up over the week, with the North team besting the South for the TGA Texas Shoot-Out championsip.

The Texas Shoot-Out is a Ryder Cup-style event. This year it was played at Fort Worth's Colonial Country Club.

Here's the report from the TGA:

The South squad took the early lead in the Saturday morning Four Ball matches by collecting 6.5 points to the North's 5.5 in very windy conditions. The wind continued to blow at 20-25 mph all day, which made the afternoon Foursomes (Alternate Shot format) extremely challenging.

The south squad kept the hot teams of Steve Gill & Ron Schroeder and Terrence Miskell & Jonathon Mathias together for the afternoon matches and it paid off big. Both teams swept all three available points and won an impressive 4.5 points out of a possible 6 for the day. When the dust settled the South expanded their lead by picking up 7.5 points, while the North scraped out some crucial points down the stretch to wind up with 4.5 for their Foursome total. After Saturday's matches the South was once again sitting on an overnight lead of four points.

After losing the first two Texas Shoot-Out events, the North rallied on Sunday. Last-minute changes to the singles match line-up by North Captain Ryan Finn paid off. The conditions on Sunday morning were near perfect for the Singles Matches and the North players came out hot. The first four North players posted nine out of a possible 12 points for their team and the momentum had shifted. Bob Neal, Steve Galko, Chuck Palmer, and Roger Marcincuk all played extremely well, and appeared to relish the singles format. Terrence Miskell was the anchor for the South team, however his 3-point contribution wasn't enough. Single Match total - North Team: 16 points, South Team: 8 points.

Needing only 24.5 points for the trophy and title, the Comeback at Colonial was complete. The North won 26-22 to claim the Texas Shoot-Out for the first time. Hard-fought matches on one of the best classic courses in the world made for an
exciting conclusion to the TGA season.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

SPI Texas Senior Open

Chuck Moran is your winner at the 2005 South Padre Island Texas Senior Open, completed on Friday. Moran posted rounds of 69, 72 and 70 at South Padre Island Golf Club, then survived a three-way playoff against Dean Overturf and David Lunstrom. Steve Veriato nearly joined the playoff with a final round of 66, but fell a shot short and wound up in a fourth-place tie with Denny Stolhand.

The complete results are available here.

A couple items of interest come to mind looking at the results:

• Second-place finisher Lundstrom, of Houston, and fourth-place finisher Veriato, of Marcos, are among a handful of Texas who'll be playing the final stage of Champions Tour qualifying Nov. 16-21. Other Texans in the final field: Perry Arthur, Plano; Keith Fergus, Sugar Land; Doug Higgins, Fort Worth; Garry Rippy, Austin; Tom Strueber, Dallas.

• The golfer who tied for 12th at the SPI TSO was Joe Jimenez. I ran across his name a couple days ago browsing the About.com Golf site. It was an article about age-shooter records - you know, youngest to shoot his age and so on. Jimenez holds the record for youngest golfer on any of the world's major pro tours to shoot his age (firing a 63 in a Champions Tour event when he was 65). That was in 1991, which means Joe is around 79 years old today. Yet there he was finishing 12 at the SPI TSO, shooting rounds of 75, 74 and 72. I played a group behind Joe at The Republic in San Antonio not too long ago, and he still hits the ball a mile (compared to us mere mortals).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cribbing the Chronicle

I was going to mention the lead item in Doug Pike's weekly Houston Chronicle golf notebook, but then I read the second item and decided it should be mentioned, too. Then I read the third. And fourth. In other words, Doug's got some good stuff this week.

You can read the column here - if you can get past the login page. (Here's a hint: if you're asked to log in, open a new browser and go to www.bugmenot.com and follow instructions. You can thank me later.)

Doug rounds up the recent Women's Texas Cup Match Play tournament (won by the South); previews the Joe Black Cup Matches, which pits mens teams representing the Northern and Southern Texas sections of the PGA; updates the status of the Village Golf Club in Conroe, until recently known as Panorama Country Club but now a city course; and congratulates Neil Wilkins of Sienna Plantation for being named Southern Texas PGA teacher of the year.

USGA Championship Coming to Texas

Alas, it's not one of the big ones, but we'll take what we can get.

The USGA announced recently that the 2007 USGA State Team Championships will be played at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands. The dates will be Sept. 18-20, so mark those calendars!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Peachy Kuehne? Nope, Kelli's in the Pits

A few days ago, I was looking through the list of players who will be taking part in the final stage of LPGA Qualifying (starting Nov. 30). One name jumped out: Kelli Kuehne.

I've always loved Kelli Kuehne. She's got that great Texas drawl and, well, look at her. She's darn cute. (Don't tell the wife, Birdie McDuff, that I said that!)

Kelli's fallen on hard times. Her golf game ain't what it used to be. But then I realized that her LPGA game was never what it was supposed to be. She's won only once on Tour. Sure, she's a 2-time Solheim Cup member, but one win isn't what was expected from her.

Remember: Kelli's amateur career was a spectacular one. She won the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur, then the U.S. Women's Amateur the following year - only the second golfer to win those two titles in back-to-back years. In 1996, she won the U.S. Women's and British Women's amateurs, the first woman ever to accomplish that double in the same year. She was an All-American at the University of Texas.

When Tiger Woods went pro near the end of 1996, and signed a big-dollar deal with Nike, Kelli Kuehne did the same thing. She was probably the most anticipated LPGA rookie since Amy Alcott in the late 1970s. And like Alcott, the buzz surrounding Kuehne led to a lot of resentment from her new peers (LPGA vets boycotted Nike for several years after).

(Aside: Rumors at the time said that Tiger and Kelli were dating. They denied it, and I believed them. Tiger had whipped Tripp and Hank in amateur play. To then turn around and sleep with their sister, well, that kind of domination of one person over an entire family just wouldn't be right.)

Unlike Tiger, Kelli wasn't able to earn her Tour card by winning late in 1996. She had to go through qualifying in 1997. Her one win came in 1999. She's finished in the Top 20 on the money list just once. She's hasn't been in the Top 50 since 2002. In 2005, Kuehne won a paltry $30,419, just 135th on the money list.

Bye-bye card, hello Q-School.

Maybe Kelli should talk to Rosie Jones about how to survive, and thrive, on the LPGA when you're always two clubs short of everyone else.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cowabunga, Dude

Congratulations to Bart Bryant, pride of Gatesville, Texas, on his Tour Championship victory. A win in The Memorial and the Tour Championship in the same year - not bad for a guy who shares the record for most times making it through Tour School (6).

Bryant is the first person to win the Tour Championship in his first appearance in the event since Tom Watson in 1987. The catch: 1987 was the first year the Tour Championship was played. It was called the Nabisco Championship then, and it was played at San Antonio's Oak Hills Country Club (for many years the site of the Texas Open and now the site of the SBC Championship on the Champions Tour).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bad Pants Open

The 2005 edition of the Bad Pants Open is just a couple days away. Forget about who will win the tournament; the only thing that really matters (well, aside from the money the tournament raises for the Texas Childrens Hospital) is who wears the crown by wearing the worst pants.

Pants like these:










These photos appear on the Bad Pants Open website, along with many more from the previous year's tournament. There'll be plenty of cameras out on Tuesday for the 2005 tournament at BlackHorse Golf Club in Cypress. Check the website in a couple weeks to see if the new photos have been uploaded.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

PGA Tour Announcements

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem's touted "state of the game" address before the Tour Championship didn't live up to the hype. Finchem was supposed to provide many more details about the major changes expected to come to the PGA Tour schedule in 2007 (such as a points race, "playoff system," and tournaments being shuffled around the schedule).

Instead, he really just restated some of the minor details that are already known (see story). So we don't know yet whether the Texas Open really is moving from September to May on the schedule, or whether the Colonial, Nelson and Houston Open are staying in their regular slots.

But we do know what's happening in 2006. Which is more of the same. Here are the 2006 dates for the four Texas tournaments:

  • April 20-23: Houston Open
  • May 11-14: Byron Nelson Championship
  • May 18-21: Colonial
  • Sept. 21-24: Texas Open

One minor change: The Houston Open, while remaining at Redstone Golf Club, will be played on the Rees Jones Course that opened this year.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Texas Company Touting New Putter Shafts

You don't hear much about shafts in putters. The putting swing is only about 3-4 mph in speed - how much difference is a shaft going to make?

Fort Worth-based shaftmaker UST says its new Frequency Filtered putter shafts will make a difference in a golfer's ability to perceive where on the clubface he or she is striking the ball. The shaft, in other words, is intended to produce better feel and feedback.

The Frequency Filtered shaft is graphite at the grip end with a steel tip at the head end, and a middle section that is "specifically designed to allow certain vibration frequencies to pass through to the player's hands and block out other frequency ranges from proceeding up the shaft length."

I'm skeptical that any putter shaft will made a noticeable difference for fewer than 5-percent of golfers. But given UST's track record, I'm eager to give this one a try. You can read the press release about the Frequency Filtered putter shafts here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Kinky Golf

Willie Nelson's golf fund-raiser for Kinky Friendman, held at Willie's Pedernales course, raised $170,000 for the unusual gubernatorial candidate.

Friedman dished out his signature one-liners along with a $1,000-per-person, buffet-style lunch of brisket, sausage, barbecue chicken, beans and rice. Another table offered vegan and kosher selections.

Nine contributors - including Dick DeGuerin, an attorney for Rep. Tom DeLay - paid $5,000 for a round of golf with Nelson, Friedman and (Jesse) Ventura.
Willie, Kinky, Jesse and Dick DeGuerin. What a foursome. I'm not sure if I'd laugh, or cower in fear, if those guys tried to play through my group. Maybe a little of both.

Friday, October 28, 2005

PGA Tour Q-School - First Stage Results

The first stage of PGA Tour Q-School is over. Three of the first-round qualifiers were held in Texas. Here are the Texans who made it through to the second round:

Black Horse Golf Club, Cypress
Chris Stroud, Beaumont, -15
Adam Meyer, Waco, -9
Kevin Messer, Missouri City, -8
Adam Babb, Arlington, -8
Matt Brost, Mansfield, -7
Richard Swift, Rockwall, -7
Stephen Reed, Houston, -7
Martin Flores, Mansfield, -6
Full Results

Lantana Golf Club, Lantana
Chris Parra, Dallas, -7
Casey Devoll, Cooper, -7
Jaxon Brigman, Frisco, -6
Stuart Deane, Arlington, -4
Michael Connell, Richardson, -4
Nicholas Loar, Rockwall, -4
Adam Rubinson, Fort Worth, -4
Edward Loar, Dallas, -3
Ryan Hanratty, Plano, -2
Chris Wheeler, Pilot Point, -2
Full Results

Cypresswood Golf Club, Spring
B.J. Staten, Dallas, -14
Jeff Burns, San Antonio, -14
Jamie Rogers, Amarillo, -10
Andy Doeden, Fort Worth, -7
Full Results

And there were a few Texans who qualified at first-stage locations outside the Lone Star State:

Greg Norman Course at PGA West, La Quinta, Calif.
Greg Hiller, San Antonio, -3

TPC of Tampa Bay, Lutz, Fla.
Colby Beckstrom, Colleyville, -13

San Juan Oaks, Hollister, Calif.
Craig Kanada, The Woodlands, -13

Esplendor Resort, Rio Rico, Ariz.
Chris Baryla, El Paso, -15
David Schultz, Fort Worth, -7

Second-stage qualifiers begin on Nov. 9, and two of those are being played in Texas:
  • Nov. 9-12: Deerwood Golf Club, Kingwood
  • Nov. 9-12: Stonebridge Country Club, Dye Course, McKinney

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Water Rights

I wouldn't have guessed that the Austin Chronicle would be a good place to find a story about golf, but there it was: a story about the water fight of which The Golf Club of Circle C finds itself in the middle.

Water issues are only going to become more and more pressing for golf courses, as they become more and more pressing for cities in drier climes all over Texas and the other parts of the U.S. When drought measures are adopted, golf courses - guzzling huge quantities of the precious liquid - are often among the first targets aimed at by conservationists. Rightly so, in my opinion. As Golf Digest course critic Ron Whitten has written, golf courses in the Southwest and West are going to have to start being built to different standards, and golfers are going to have to accept those standards: water to keep the greens alive, but let Mother Nature take care of (or not) the rest of the course. Play 'em hard and fast and save the water for more important uses.

The Golf Club at Circle C came up with a plan that it felt was eco-friendly and would save water that otherwise would come from other sources. It would capture rainwater, "store" it in an irrigation pond that would be so large as to qualify as a reservoir (water it would share with three neighboring developments), then take the water back out when needed for the course. This way, Circle C would drastically cut the amount of water it had to pump from the City of Austin's water supply.

But Texas has some byzantine laws when it comes to water rights. I'm not saying the laws are wrong; I don't know enough about them to make a judgement on that. But they are definitely complicated.

The Austin Chronicle explained the problems Circle C has run into with its plan:

The state officially owns all the surface water in Texas; entities wanting to use this water must apply for a state permit. The golf club's permit application deals with storm water, which is a bit of a fuzzy area in water law. The Texas Water Code includes storm water, rainwater, and floodwater within its definition of "state water"; however, the law has been interpreted to mean that these waters don't become a state resource until they flow into a body of water like a lake or a stream. In other words, a bucket of rainwater is yours. If you pour that water into a stream, it becomes state property. With its new irrigation system, the golf club essentially wants to collect a big bucket of rainwater, pour it in a streambed, and then take it back out again.

...

LCRA's associate general counsel, Lyn Dean, argued in a letter to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that the golf club's permit raises "potentially significant issues of precedent regarding the determination of when storm waters become 'state water.' " ... The LCRA's argument is based on the fact that the golf club plans to use a dry creek bed called Danz Creek to move the storm water into the SARISP (Southwest Austin Regional Irrigation Storage Pond, what the Circle C reservoir would be called). The LCRA points out that once water goes into a streambed, it belongs to the state. (Circle C general manager Chip) Gist, on the other hand, says the storm water is private water that wouldn't even be in Danz Creek in the first place if the Circle C irrigation system hadn't put it there – it would be sitting in three little detention ponds. "Way I see it, we're creating more state water," Gist
said.

It's a very interesting article. Go check it out.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hollytree Wins State Club Team Title

The Texas Golf Association held it State Club Team Championship over the weekend at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Marble Falls, and the team representing Tyler's Hollytree Country Club emerged as champions.

The event format was based on the USGA State Team Championships, in which teams of three representing each state compete. The two low scores among team members count for each day of competition. At the TGA, there were two days of play.

The Hollytree team of Darin Newhouse, Reggie Howell, and Paul Manziel edged Mansfield's Walnut Creek Country Club. In third was Golfcrest Country Club of Pearland.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Kudos for La Cantera

The November/December issue of Golf for Women Magazine includes a nice recommendation for the Westin La Cantera Resort and its La Cantera Golf Club. Or, more specifically, the Resort Course at La Cantera, rated by the magazine No. 40 on its list of 50 most women-friendly golf courses in America.

If you've been thinking of a husband-and-wife getaway to San Antonio that includes golf, click over to the article and scroll to the bottom. There's information on how to get a special rate by mentioning Golf for Women.

From JUCO to NAIA

The men's and women's golf teams at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College (don't be confused by the name - that's one men's team and one women's team, not four teams total) were supposed to play in the Mary-Hardin Baylor Invitational tournament next week, a JUCO event. Instead, they're looking for NAIA tournaments to enter.

The golf programs at UTB/TSC learned recently that they have been accepted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. They'll begin competing at the NAIA level as soon as they find tournaments with openings.

There aren't that many NAIA golf programs in Texas. By my count, there are 10 total:

Men's NAIA Golf Teams
Northwood (Cedar Hill)
Texas A&M International (Laredo)
Texas Wesleyan (Fort Worth)
Lubbock Christian
Wayland Baptist (Plainview)
UT-Brownsville and Texas Southmost

Women's NAIA Golf Teams
Lubbock Christian
Northwood (Cedar Hill)
Texas A&M International (Laredo)
UT-Brownsville and Texas Southmost

LPGA Awards

A couple of Texas professional are among the honorees recently announced by the LPGA in its annual Teaching and Club Professional section awards. The TC&P division of the LPGA annually names a Teacher of the Year, Professional of the Year, and Coach of the Year for each of its four sections. Texas is in the Central section.

Former touring pro Marci Bozarth, of Brae Burn Country Club in Houston, was named the Central section Professional of the Year.

Sylvia Ferdon of Baylor University was named Central section Coach of the Year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Driver's License Exam

A while back we told you about a driving range in San Antonio that had outlawed driving. The owner of Ten Cups Golf Center, David Fineg, just got tired of watching golfers who have no business hitting driver blasting his range balls into the woods around the range. Actually, what he got tired of was having to go into those woods to retrieve those wayward balls.

Now, Ten Cups Golf Center has a new test for those who want to bomb drives at the facility: the Ten Cups Driver's License Exam. Pass your drivers test, and you'll be allowed to hit driver at Ten Cups.

For the exam cost of $3, the golfer gets 10 swings with his or her driver. The goal is to put six of those shots into a grid marked off on the driving range. Successfully hit the grid 60-percent of the time and you'll be allowed to hit driver anytime you want at Ten Cups. Fail your driver's exam, and it's no driver for you.

Check out Ten Cups on the web at http://www.tencups.com/.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Signed Scorecards? Evidence

Have you been following the contretemps over President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers? There's an interesting article in the Austin American-Statesman about how Miers came into the Bush circle.

Bush hired Miers to represent him in lawsuit filed by a former caretaker at Bush's private fishing resort near Athens. The caretaker was claiming he was wrongfully fired after being injured on the job.

What does this have to do with golf? Nothing, really, so don't read the article unless you're interested in the relationship between Miers and Bush. But ...

There was this nugget in the article: members of the resort argued that the caretaker deserved to be fired because he was shirking his duties in favor of, among other things, playing golf. As evidence, they produced signed scorecards from the local country club.

Let this be a lesson to us all: Next time we shirk our responsibilities in favor of golf, don't sign the scorecard!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

England Has the Spirit

Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity was the site of the The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship over the weekend, a four-day event pitting teams of amateur men and women golfers representing 24 different countries.

And your winner: England, which finished at 43-under 553. Each country fielded a 2-person men's team and a 2-person women's team. The men's and women's team scores were combined each day, for one country score. Hence the odd stroke total.

The U.S. finished tied with South Africa in second place. If you want to know about The Spirit competition, check out the tournament website.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Corpus Christi's Pharaohs CC

Got an email the other day from my mother. No, it was not instructions on what to wear that day. She's a real estate broker in Corpus Christi, where I grew up, and she was writing to tell me that Pharaohs Country Club was on the market for $4.9 million.

Gee, only $4.8 million out of my price range.

But her note got me thinking about the golf situation in Corpus. Growing up, I was convinced - as was just about every golfer you'd run into at Oso Beach Municipal or Gabe Lozano Jr. Golf Center (Gabe's for short) - that Corpus was desperately in need of a third municipal golf course. Oso and Gabe's were always packed, they suffered greatly from the overplay, and the closest other public courses were in Sinton, Kingsville and Alice.

A couple years ago, the City of Corpus Christi hired the National Golf Foundation to study the issue of whether the city needed a third course. The NGF came back with a resounding "no." Take care of the courses you've got before you worry about adding another, was the conclusion. Too few city resources were put into the two existing courses. Adding a third would make a bad situation worse.

While I agreed that the city didn't take good enough care of its two courses, I disagreed with the NGF recommendation at the time. Now, however, after thinking over the fate of Pharaohs, I'm convinced that Corpus Christi does not need a third municipal golf course. Because the golfers there aren't supporting what is now the only other public golf course in town: Pharaohs.

Pharaohs went semi-private, opening to the public, about 18 years ago. I last lived in Corpus Christi about eight years ago, but in my time there I never saw a full parking lot at Pharaohs. Heck, I never saw people waiting on the first tee for a group ahead to clear. This despite the fact that Pharaohs was almost always in better shape than the two Corpus munis, and despite the fact that, with a cart added in, Pharaohs was cheaper than the two munis. The course just couldn't draw a crowd. Golfers I know who are still in Corpus tell me this situation hasn't changed.

How much of a need for another muni can there be when an additional course goes public and can't get anyone to play it? It's as if Corpus golfers are too busy complaining about the munis to notice there's another course now open to them.

I've always thought Pharaohs was a great opportunity waiting for the right ownership. Maybe the new owners will be the right owners. What they need to do is a major marketing push to publicize their semi-private status, their cheaper-than-the-munis status, and their not-overcrowded status. As far as I know, Pharaohs has never tried a big advertising push.

But the money is there waiting to be made. And Corpus Christi golfers might finally realize they can stop waiting for a third muni and start playing the semi-private course down the road.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Texas Tournaments Appear Safe in New PGA Tour Schedule

The intrigue on the PGA Tour for the past couple months has been on the shape of the PGA Tour schedule come 2007, when a new television contract will start. Commissioner Tim Finchem has favored some major changes, including the shortening of the schedule and the moving of some big events.

The worry here, and in some tournament offices, was that one or more of the four Texas events might be dropped from the schedule. Well, worry no more.

The current issue of Golfweek has a great article on what's in store when the new schedule is announced, believed to be sometime in November. And it's all good for Texas.

According to Golfweek's sources, the Houston Open will remain in its current slot, and the Byron Nelson Classic will move up behind the Houston Open. The Nelson in Dallas and Colonial in Fort Worth have traditionally been played back to back, but the two Metroplex events would split up under the new schedule.

The biggest change by far is that the Texas Open, played in San Antonio on the same weekend as the Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup, would move into primetime with a date in mid-May. The Texas Open, according to the Golfweek schedule, will take place the week after The Players Championship and the week before Colonial.

This article is not yet posted at golfweek.com, but pick up a copy of the magazine at the newsstand. It's worth a read.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

RIP, Sundance

Sundance Golf Course in New Braunfels, one of the most-honored practice facilities and with an ownership whose involvement in junior golf was equally lauded, has closed. It's a big blow to junior golf in the San Antonio area.

There were rumors for quite some time that the husband-and-wife ownership team of Rob and Sue Puetz were selling. Those rumors came true when the San Antonio investment firm of Koontz McCombs purchased the course. No word on what plans Koontz McCombs has for the property - apartments or a retail center are my guesses - but Sundance was closed as soon as the deal closed.

The facility, which combined practice areas, a driving range, a very good 18-hole executive course, and two great instructors, was the host site for the Central Texas Junior Golf Association. Sue Puetz served on the board of the CTJGA and created many other junior programs at Sundance; she wrote a manual on starting and running junior golf programs that is recommended by the USGA.

Sundance opened in 1995 and every year of its existence was named one of the Top 100 driving ranges/practice facilities in the U.S. by Golf Range Magazine.

PGA Tour winner David Ogrin, now instructor of golf with Boerne-based Foresight Golf, and himself based at Foresight's course in New Braunfels, The Bandit, is the new leader of the CTJGA. Which bodes well for the future of that organization, at least.

But the late, great Sundance will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Whatever Happened to ... Ty Tryon?

What happened to him on Monday is that he failed to qualify for this week's Permian Basin Open on the Nationwide Tour. Which explains why you'll find this feature about Tryon in the Midland newspaper.

(Quick aside: With Michelle Wie turning pro, there are a lot of people talking about Ty Tryon these days. Some of them are even suggesting that Wie might turn into another Tryon (a flameout, in other words). Well, anyone who thinks Michelle Wie has "Ty Tryon" written all over is ... how shall I put this? ... out of their freakin' mind.)

Part of the Midland newspaper's article about Tryon focuses on the round he played in Monday qualifying (a 72). The other part is about Tryon's travails, turning pro at 17, failing to make an impact on the PGA Tour, now relegated to mini-tours and stabs at Monday qualifying.

You remember Tryon, right? He was the kid who burst on the scene four years ago by becoming the youngest player since 1957 to make the 36-hole cut at a professional tournament. You know, the one who in 2001 became the youngest player to ever earn a PGA Tour card.

Four years later, Tryon has fallen off the map. He no longer has his tour card and has been relegated to playing on mini tours to prepare himself for the next tour qualifying school.
But maybe it's too soon to give on Tryon. He's only 20 years old, after all. And Sean O'Hair is proof that a teen prodigy can disappear into the wilderness and re-emerge later as a force on the PGA Tour. Ty hasn't given up on Ty.

As strange as it may seem, Tryon says he isn't far away from being the player that he clearly has the ability to be.

"I'm not far off at all," he said. "I'm more confident than I've ever been, and I know I'm a better player now than I've ever been.

"I'm going back to (tour-qualifying) school and I think I'm right there."


Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Golf Coming to Concan

Concan, where the Frio River flows clear and Garner State Park seems to always be packed with picnickers and campers, will soon be the site of an 18-hole golf course. The owners will be the husband-and-wife team who also own the area's Frio Country Store and House Pasture Cattle Company Restaurant.

You might have had the same reaction I did the first time I read of the couple's other businesses: sounds like this will be a typical small-town-Texas goat track. But then I read further into the story about the course that appeared in the Uvalde newspaper, and now I'm very excited.

The golf course is being designed by the Austin-based team of Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell, the duo behind the University of Texas Golf Club, the Ambush in Lajitas, and Comanche Trace in Kerrville (with Tom Kite). These guys are good.

The course will boast a 7,000-square foot clubhouse, complete with spa. And it will measure more than 7,300 yards while playing to a par-72.

It's going to be called Concan Golf and Country Club at Mountain Valley. Construction began in July and the owners hope to have it open for play by fall of 2006. You can read more here.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fort Worth Muni Pass

If you play a lot of golf in Fort Worth, and enjoy the city's municipal courses, you might want to check out the city's Annual Pass program. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the passes cost from $649 for an individual to more than $900 for a family of four.

I know what you're thinking: Sounds like a lousy deal! My city offers a golf pass for 25 bucks! But wait: Fort Worth's golf pass lets you play as much as you want during the year, for close to free. There's a $5 per-round surcharge to Annual Pass holders at the Pecan Valley facility, but just $2 per round at the other Cowtown munis.

Get more info at www.fortworthgolf.org.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Want to Write About Golf?

Now's your chance. At least, that is, if you live and golf in San Antonio or Austin.

A website called BunkerShot.com launched about a year and a half ago. What BunkerShot.com is doing is providing local editions and wrapping national golf headlines around those local editions, all in one easy to read (but not very pretty, I'll admit) package. Good ol' Bogey here is the new editor for the San Antonio and Austin editions, located at http://www.bunkershot.com/sanantonio/ and http://www.bunkershot.com/austin/, respectively.

The idea is to provide local golf headlines - news about upcoming events and who won the just-completed events, info on local golfers and golf pros, local courses and their conditions or specials ... you get the picture.

What I'm looking for are a couple golfers in each city who are interested in writing about golf in your town. You don't have to have any writing experience, although you certainly do need to be able to construct a sentence and spell correctly. Mostly, you just need to be passionate about golf and have a very good knowledge of your local golf scene.

So if you are interested in occasionally writing an article about the San Antonio golf scene or Austin golf scene, drop me a line at bogeymcduff - at - yahoo.com.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bring Wie to Texas, Part MMIX

OK, this isn't really my MMIXth post urging Texas' PGA tournaments to do all they can to get Michelle Wie into their fields. It just feels that way.

But, darn it, I'll stop yammering about it as soon as one (or more) of our tourneys take my advice! What are they waiting for, a Power Point presentation?

Michelle Wie, as all golfers who live on this planet now know, turned pro on Wednesday. She's the biggest name in women's golf right now in terms of drawing power. Easily. Bigger than Sorenstam. Perhaps even bigger than that fellow on the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods.

I've been agitating for two years for the folks who run the Texas Open, which desperately needs an injection of excitement, to do all they can to get Wie into the field. It's hard for me to fathom why they haven't made such an effort.

According to rumor, the Texas Open and some other PGA Tour events are afraid they'd suffer a backlash from PGA Tour members if they invited Wie. They point to the Colonial as evidence (which is ironic, since I also believe the Colonial should go all out to get Wie) that inviting a chick will cause some players to avoid the tournament. If that's true, I've got one word for such guys (and such tournament officials): weenies.

But I don't think it's true. Sure, Vijay Singh stopped playing Colonial when Annika was invited, but that was his fault, not hers. If he hadn't made such idiotic and sexist statements about that event, Vijay wouldn't have been bashed in the media as he was. He brought that on himself. But regardless, the Colonial field had been slowly dwindling for years. And regardless, some of the golf's biggest stars do still occasionally show up (Phil Mickelson played last year, for example).

And the Texas Open? It's already a tournament full of back-of-the-money-list grinders trying to cling to their Tour cards. Do the Texas Open officials really believe that any of these guys would pull out in protest? And if they did, who cares? I'll gladly suffer the absence of a few Patrick Sheehans and Daniel Chopras in favor of Michelle Wie.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rita Damage Assessment

Here's an article from the Beaumont Enterprise on damage to Beaumont and Southeast Texas golf courses by Hurricane Rita:

While Homberg's present clubhouse suffered some wind damage, the adjacent new one now under construction went unscathed.

Had Tuesday's optimistic foursome chosen Bayou Din Golf Club as their destination, they wouldn't even have gotten to the parking lot.

A chain blocks the entrance to the driveway, and next to it is a sign proclaiming, "Looters Will Be Shot On Sight."

While no one was on duty at Bayou Din Tuesday morning, Francisco Herrera, a member of the Iron Oaks Golf Club grounds crew, visibly went about his work of
preparing that facility for a hopeful reopening on Saturday.

"We've lost some shingles from the clubhouse roof, and we've had some damage to the cart barn and the maintenance barn," said Ronnie Pfleider, a co-proprietor at Iron Oaks. "Most of the rest of the damage is downed trees, and most of them are on Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 17.

"We will assess the course again tomorrow and make a decision then whether we will be able to open on Saturday."

Cypresswood's Tradition Restoration Near Completion

Doug Pike's local golf notebook in the Houston Chronicle this week included the news that the restoration of the Tradition Course at Cypresswood Golf Club is close to finished, and that Tradition will be re-opening on Oct. 11.

Cypresswood is a 54-hole complex in Spring, built on wooded terrain near the confluence of Spring and Cypress creeks. It's a great facility - Tradition has been voted best public course in the Houston area by the Chronicle four straight years - that was in need of some touchup work.

Foresight Golf, which bought the property earlier this year, is shelling out some bucks on Cypresswood and has more updates in store.

Monday, October 03, 2005

State Senior Four Ball

The dynamic Dallas duo of Chip Stewart and Larry Thomas were wire-to-wire winners of the Texas Golf Association's State Senior Four Ball championship over the weekend. It's the second time in three years the pair has won this title.

From the TGA news release:

Stewart & Thomas’s consistent ball striking allowed them to stay out of harm's way the entire tournament and capture a one stroke victory over Frank Duphorne of Bullard and Andy Wall of Tyler. Stewart & Thomas made 14 birdies and just one bogey on there way to victory. Wall and Duphorne rallied late with a birdie on the 17th hole to close within one shot heading into the final hole. However Stewart’s clutch second shot into the demanding par four 18th hole to about 12 feet, put the pressure solely on Wall & Duphorne to make birdie at the last. Wall’s birdie attempt finished just left of the hole leaving Stewart with just a tap for the victory. Making a charge up the leader board on the final day was Larry Trowell & Si Harris of The Colony firing the low round of the day, a five under par 66 to grab sole possession of third place.

For more, see the Championships section of the TGA website.

Friday, September 30, 2005

We Are the Champions

It was a fantastic showing for Texas at the USGA State Team Championships, played Sept. 27-29 in Bluffton, S.C.: our men's team won, while our women's team tied for third.

The State Team Championships have been played six years, and Texas has won the men's championship twice. This year, Terrence Miskell of New Braunfels, Alan Hill of Spring Branch, and Steve Galko of Dallas combined to post a score of 10-under 422 over three rounds. (Each round, the two lowest of the three team members' scores are combined for a team score.)

Galko, Miskell and Hill are the three most-recent Texas Golf Association Players of the Year. For the story and scores, see here.

The Texas women's team was comprised of Mina Hardin of Fort Worth, Carolyn Creekmore of Dallas, and Toni Wiesner of Fort Worth. The team's total was 450; Georgia won with a score of 434. For the story and scores, see here.

Hurricane Rita Affects Jobs at Pinnacle Plant

Talk about unexpected consequences. A Texas plant that manufactures Surlyn, the hard cover that originally debuted as a cut-proof alternative to balata, was damaged by Hurricane Rita and is unable to meet demand.

So the Acushnet Company plant in New Bedford, Mass., where Pinnacle golf balls are manufactured, had laid off 200 of its employees because Acushnet is diverting what Surlyn is does have to its Titleist plant.

Here's the story.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

El Pasoan Named PGA Pro of the Year

Congrats to Bill Eschenbrenner of El Paso, recently named PGA Golf Professional of the Year. That's the highest honor a club pro can receive from the PGA of America. Eschenbrenner, PGA Master Professional at El Paso's Lone Star Golf Club, is the 52nd person to receive the honor, and the first from the PGA's Sun Country section (which covers West Texas and New Mexico).

Eschenbrenner, 67, has had quite a career:

A former caddie at Worth Hills Municipal Golf Course in Fort Worth, a facility made famous by author Dan Jenkins, Eschenbrenner made a career path to professional golf through his association and friendship with many of the premier players in the Lone Star State, including legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

”I was fortunate to have known top Professionals, and I just wanted to be like them,” said Eschenbrenner. “Had I not had golf, I’m sure I would have been in the pool halls forever. I was friends with Ben Hogan, and knew him well. Just as I am a friend of Byron Nelson, and individuals like Ernie Vossler (1967 PGA Golf Professional of the Year), Fred Hawkins and Orville Moody. They guided me. The PGA of America card meant a lot to me, and being a member, I was able to set goals and pretty high standards. I am very honored to win this national award. I always tried to give back, and that feeling comes from those PGA professionals who got me started.”

Eschenbrenner, a PGA member since 1965, was also the 1994 national Horton Smith Award winner for contributions to PGA education. He has served as both a premier instructor and mentor to many of the games premier players. He is credited by Lee Trevino for helping him gain a PGA Tour berth.

Eschenbrenner helped Trevino attain PGA membership in the late 1960s, during a period when such membership was required to compete on the PGA Tour.

The list of Tour professionals under Eschenbrenners tutelage features eight current players, including 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem, a former PGA assistant professional at El Paso (Texas) Country Club, where Eschenbrenner served 35 years as PGA director of golf and five years as consultant.

The developer of a city-wide junior golf program in El Paso, Eschenbrenner also served on the board of the El Paso Sun Bowl and Sun Carnival Association. In 1974, he founded the NCAA College All-American Golf Tournament, an event that has returned $546,000 in golf scholarships (prior to this fall’s tournament) to participating college programs. Past tournament champions include: Tiger Woods, Jerry Pate, David Duval, Davis Love III and Scott Simpson.

From 1976-77, Eschenbrenner served as president of the Sun County PGA Section, was District 12 Director for the national PGA Board of Directors (1995-97), and was a past board member of the Southwest PGA Section from 1965-74. He is one of the most respected instructors at PGA education seminars and employment workshops. Eschenbrenner and his wife, Janet, are the parents of a son, Scott, of Las Cruces, N.M., and a daughter, Tami Swingler, of Austin, Texas.

(Via Cybergolf)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"Big Break IV" A Big Yawn

Is it just me, or does "The Big Break" really stink this year? There's that silly U.S. vs. Europe format; none of the characters are much of a character; plus, the novelty has fully worn off.

I didn't even catch the second episode - was watching "R U the Girl" on UPN (or was it WB?). Yep, that T-Boz is a hottie! But at least Arlington resident Randall hasn't been eliminated yet. Reason to keep watching? I don't know how much more I can take.

Wake me when it's time for the next "Ladies Only" edition.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

USGA, R&A Come Over to Tight Lies' Side

Well, sort of. The big news from the world of golf today is that the USGA and R&A have revised the "Decisions on the Rules of Golf," including a revision that allows for the use of rangefinders by Local Rule.

Those of you with good memories will recall that the Texas-based Tight Lies Tour began allowing rangefinders in its tournaments this year. In fact, the Tight Lies signed on SkyGolf GPS as an official sponsor.

In allowing rangefinders, the Tight Lies Tour became the first-ever professional golf tour to permit (not to mention encourage) the use of distance-measuring devices. And what was the reaction of the USGA at the time? I can't find the specific articles to link to, but I recall the reaction very well: the USGA was furious, and informed the Tight Lies Tour that it would no longer receive rules support from the governing body.

Now, the USGA (and R&A) have bowed to technology and, beginning in 2006, rangefinders will be legal so long as a Local Rule is in effect.

Here's more on the changes to the Decisions.

Confirmation: TPC San Antonio Courses Closed to Locals

Last week, I posted about an article in Austin American-Statesman that implied the TPC San Antonio courses would be open only to resort guests (in other words, San Antonio golfers would not be allowed on the courses unless they paid for a room).

I've since corresponded a few times with the reporter who authored that article, Kevin Robbins, and Kevin has followed up on the subject with his sources. Yesterday, Kevin confirmed - after talking with a contact with the PGA Tour design services - that the courses would not be open to locals (unless they get a room).

Kevin wrote to me:

He told me that no, there will not be any "daily-fee," "public" or "walk-up" access to the TPC. He did say, however, that there might be a "membership structure" that allows someone to pay some money, presumably a lot, for the privilege of paying the green fee to play those courses without having to stay at the resort. To me, that idea excludes 98 percent of us who would like to play those courses.


Kevin is certainly right about that: Only a very, very small number of San Antonio golfers would be able to buy a "membership." And the membership plan is only a maybe anyway.

There's nothing unusual about a swanky resort being open only to resort guests. Although San Antonio's three existing resorts - La Cantera, Hyatt Hill Country, and, in Boerne, Tapatio Springs - are open for daily-fee access, that is probably the exception rather than the rule with upscale golf resorts.

But as I wrote last week, what gets me is not that a chi chi resort is going to be essentially a private golf club, but that TPC San Antonio has chosen this path after all the support San Antonio golfers have given the project, and all the financial incentives the city of San Antonio and Bexar County (and even the Texas Legislature) have given the project.

TPC San Antonio's response to all that support, the tax breaks, the financial incentives? "Thanks. And, oh, by the way - you can't play here."

Monday, September 26, 2005

TPC Courses Update

Our man Richard Oliver (actually, the San Antonio Express-News' man) spent part of his Sunday hanging out with Pete Dye, who was in San Antonio to walk the property on which his North Course of the TPC San Antonio project will be built.

Plenty of good information in Richard's column:

The coming Tournament Players Club of San Antonio, a 36-hole complex that breaks ground on construction in March, may be opened for business by 2008. The Texas Open may move to the site on roughly the same timetable, quicker than most projected.

The city's Champions Tour event, the SBC Championship, could be another tenant.

But when he rolled up in an SUV under a broiling sun Sunday afternoon, a cloud of milky dust swirling in a trail behind him, Dye was more concerned about the immediate horizon, rising above the blaze of green before him.

"When you keep on going up up here, you just get this great long view when you turn around and look backward," he said, nodding toward a rise to the north. "It's unbelievable, all up in there."

By next year at this time, under Dye's veteran gaze, a signature TPC landscape will be carved out of the snarl of cactus, cedar and rock. However, unlike his inaugural TPC facility near Jacksonville, Fla., constructed atop swampland, this project won't require creative artifice such as railroad-tie berms.

"Here you don't have to create anything," Dye said, "because it's already here."
Here's something that caught my eye:

When the Texas Open moves to the TPC at San Antonio, in 2008 or shortly after, the PGA Tour could place the event on either layout — or both.

Not many people know this, but when the second course at La Cantera - current home to the Texas Open - was being built, the PGA Tour planned to play the Texas Open on both of those courses.

It would have been a tricky re-routing, but the Tour's plans were in place to the tune that the new course, what's now called the Palmer Course, was built with the same turfs to match up with the Resort Course.

I'm not sure what caused the plan to be scrapped, but of course it was. The Palmer Course greens that had already grown in were torn up and the sod given to other San Antonio golf courses. The Palmer Course was then re-sodded with a different type of turf.

For San Antonians who remember the lousy turf conditions at the Palmer Course when it first opened, now you know why. Blame the PGA Tour.

Notes from the Weekend

• San Antonio sure likes to claim golfers who aren't from here and don't live here. San Antonio claims Wendy Ward, who attended high school here but was born elsewhere and now lives elsewhere. This city has claimed Notah Begay III, whose only connection is that his instructor, Bryan Gathright, works in San Antonio. Now San Antonio has claimed Robert Gamez.

Gamez won the Texas Open over the weekend, his first PGA Tour win in 15 years. Good on ya, mate. Gamez's father was born and grew up in San Antonio, and that's good enough for the local media to give Gamez a tongue bath for his "San Antonio connections."

• A real San Antonian, Jimmy Walker, was back in action after missing almost the entire PGA Tour season due to neck and back woes. Walker is playing several tournaments on the Nationwide Tour, where he was the 2004 money leader, to get back into playing shape.

At the Boise Open, Walker got back in action in style, shooting on a 31 on his first nine holes. He finished tied for 15th after going 67-70-72-68 for a 7-under 277 total.

• I'll be curious to see the final attendance figures for the Texas Open, if they are made public. I'm guessing this year's Texas Open will be the lowest-attended in many years - which is saying something, because this tournament is always among the lowest-attended on tour. The golf course just isn't conducive to following players around; plus, this year, there were even fewer names than usual among the field.

But the real downer this year was the heat: 102 on Saturday, 105 on Sunday.

• When David Duval made his first cut of the year on Friday, he stood in the middle of the pack going into the weekend. Then he shot 70-74. Not terrible, but 74 is pretty weak at La Cantera. Still, Duval cashed around $7,500. It's a start.

• I poo-poo'ed (that's right, I said "poo-poo'ed") Jack Nicklaus' choice of Texan Justin Leonard for the Presidents Cup, but Leonard did a pretty good job. Justin has one of the worst Ryder Cup records ever (no wins in 8 matches) and entered this Presidents Cup with a very weak record, as well (3-9-1 overall, 0-3-0 in singles).

But this year, Leonard went a stellar 3-1-1. He even managed, on Sunday, his first-ever singles victory in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. Justin, I'm sorry I doubted you. But I'll doubt you again if you're a captain's pick for next year's Ryder Cup.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Amazing! Duval Makes a Cut

Congratulation to David Duval, who made his first cut of 2005 at the Texas Open on Friday. Duval is at 3-under after two rounds, which puts him around the middle of the pack entering Saturday's third round.

Richard Oliver has an excellent column about Duval in this morning's San Antonio Express-News. Sounds like David is getting his confidence back, and with his confidence, his game. Get this: Duval is aiming to make next year's Ryder Cup team.

When Duval's wedge from 129 yards away settled 34 feet from the flag, resulting in a key two-putt par, it represented more than a lost highlight at the Valero Texas Open. For the first time in nearly a year, a span covering 18 events, the former British Open champion had made the cut at a PGA Tour event.

It was a glimpse of the past.

And hope for the future.

"Frankly," Duval said afterward, "I'm playing well enough to win golf tournaments."
They're fighting words, and a welcome arrival for those who wondered if the Florida native still had any in his bag.

...

"Confidence," he said, "is such a fragile and precious thing."

...

"I've been fortunate enough to taste the highest of highs, and — though this may sound strange — fortunate enough to taste it as low as it can be," he said. Of his standing in the game, he added with a smile, "I've tasted being No.1, and I've tasted No.1,000, and there's something to be said for that."

And it is this. Because of that experience, "I know how well I am playing now," said Duval, who admits he's aiming for a Ryder Cup berth next year.

Read the rest of Richard's column here (mysa.com registration required). Richard also writes the Oliver's Twist blog that is linked in our blogroll to the right.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Houstonian Wins USGA Senior Amateur

A Houston man, appropriately named Rice, was the winner of the USGA Senior Amateur Championship on Thursday.

Sixty-five-year-old Mike Rice beat the defending champion, Mark Bemowski of Mukwonago, Wis., 1-up, becoming the oldest winner of the event in 18 years. Rice is the first Texan to win the event since 1984.

Here's an article about Rice's victory, and here's an interview with the winner.

Texas Open Likely Safe from Rita

It looks like the Texas Open in San Antonio will be safe from Hurricane Rita after all. Earlier in the week, when it appeared as though Rita might strike the Texas coast farther south, it seemed a worst-case scenario for the Texas Open.

Imagine: The golfers and fans would spend Thursday and Friday slogging up and down hills in 100-degree heat, only to have a hurricane come along and wipe out the final two days of play. All for naught.

Now, it seems all that worrying was for naught. San Antonio might not get even a few rainshowers. Rita looks headed for the northeastern tip of the Texas coastline, or maybe western Louisiana. And so we hope for the best for our neighbors in Port Arthur and Beaumont, and Lake Charles and Alexandria.

Meanwhile, based on the few glimpses of the tournament I caught on ESPN and in news photos yesterday, it appears that San Antonio's golf fans are under a mandatory evacuation order for La Cantera Golf Club. Those bleachers that I saw were completely empty. If you heard the sparse applause after a good shot yesterday, then you understand what a "smattering" is.

I'm sure the attendance will pick up quite a bit over the weekend. But I'm also sure that the PGA Tour (and its players and fans) will be very happy to leave La Cantera when the TPC San Antonio courses open in a couple years.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

TGA Players of the Year

The Texas Golf Association, the body that governs amateur golf in Texas, has announced its 2005 players of the year. Here are excerpts from the TGA announcement:

The Texas Golf Association announced today that Steve Galko of Dallas has won the Association’s State Player of the Year and North Regional Player of the Year award for 2005, and that Jonathon Mathias of San Antonio won the South Regional Player of the Year.

Established in 2002, the TGA State Player of the Year trophy is presented to the player who earns the most points based on their performance in designated TGA and USGA events throughout the calendar year. To be eligible for the award, a player must play in at least one TGA event. The TGA North and South Regional Player of the Year awards were introduced in 2003, and serve to recognize outstanding individual achievement in TGA Regional Events.

Galko earned the 2005 State and North Regional Player of the Year honor by compiling an impressive record that included three victories (State Public Links, North Regional Amateur and Mid-Amateur), finishing 3rd in the State Amateur, reaching the semifinals in the Mid-Amateur Match Play Championship, as well as making it to the second stage of U.S. Open qualifying. It marks the first time that someone has captured both the State and a Regional title in the same year.

Mathias captured the South Regional Player of the Year title owing to consistent play throughout 2005. He won the South Regional Amateur, tied for 4th in the South Regional Mid-Amateur, and had solid performances in both the State Amateur and Mid-Amateur, finishing tied for 20th and tied for24th, respectively.

Next week Galko will team up with Terrence Miskell of New Brunfels and Alan Hill of Spring Branch to represent Texas in the 2005 USGA State Team Championship, being played September 27-29 at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton, South Carolina.

It’s an impressive line-up for Texas, featuring the 2003, 2004 and 2005 TGA Player of the Year winners (Hill, Miskell and Galko, respectively). It will be the first time competing in the State Team championship for Galko and Miskell, but Hill lends some experience, having played for the 2003 team that finished 11th at Charles River Country Club, located just outside of Boston.