Tuesday, April 29, 2008

FedEx Kinko's Monday Qualifying Results

Here are the 10 golfers who get into the field for the Champions Tour FedEx Kinko's Classic via Monday qualifying:

Mitch Adams, Cary, N.C., 66
James Mason, Dillard, Ga., 67
John Ross, Freeman, W.V., 67
Michael Donald, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 68
Boonchu Ruangkit, Bangkok, Thailand, 68
Jim Chancey, Altamonte Springs, Fla., 68
Mark Balen, Lackawanna, N.Y., 68
Chris Tucker, Fort Mill, S.C., 68
Kirk Hanefeld, Acton, Mass., 69
Larry Degenhart, Austin, 70

Great to see Austin's Degenhart sneaking in with the final qualifying position. And he did it the hard way, winning an 8-man playoff for that final spot.

The tournament starts Friday at The Hills Country Club. The Golf Channel is televising all three days.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nelson Players Loved New TPC Four Seasons ... or Did They?

The DFW media's coverage of the Byron Nelson Championship over the past week was full of praise for D.A. Weibring's redesign of the TPC Four Seasons course. And the local media reported that the players in town for the tournament were raving about the redesign. For example, from Dallas Morning News columnist Bill Nichols:

Players hailed the remodeling job of D.A. Weibring's Golf Resources Group. They praised the smooth greens, lush fairways and uniform rough.

Nichols had plenty of quotes from players to back up that assertion. But were the PGA Tour golfers really so happy with TPC Four Seasons, or were they just putting on a good face during tournament week?

SportsTicker's Andrew Both claims that behind the scenes, many golfers were highly critical of the redesign:

But despite what the Texas media has reported to be a generally positive player reaction, the cold reality is that many players are far from enamored of the course changes made by D.A. Weibring and his team.

Players are told by the PGA Tour not to say anything negative for public consumption, and most dutifully trotted out the positive spin last week when asked for their thoughts.

Behind the scenes, however, it seems it was a different story.

See, I told you that's what he said. Continuing directly from Both's column:

"I spoke to a dozen players and not one had anything positive to say about the changes," said one caddie, who did not want to be named. "The course certainly looks better but everybody thinks they have made the greens even worse. The slopes are too severe, especially on some of the holes where you're coming in with a long iron.

"There's no way they’ll ever get a great field here again, which is a shame, because the tournament could not treat us better. The bottom line is that players set their schedule by the quality of the course first, and schedule second. Even a better date on the schedule won’t help much if they don't like the course."

Ouch. Both essentially says, don't worry about getting a great field again, Nelson, because you never will.

Two Wins In a Row for Walker on Adams Tour

Mark Walker won last week's Adams Pro Tour Series tournament, and on Sunday he made it two in a row.

Walker took the trophy at the Coca-Cola Wal-Mart Classic at OakWing Golf Club in Alexandria, La. The Hurst golfer closed with a sizzling 65 for the come-from-behind victory, a 1-stroke win over runners-up Andrew Dresser of Carrollton and Adam Rubinson of Fort Worth.

Walker finished at 268, 20-under par, and earned $15,000.

Top 5
Mark Walker, Hurst, 69-66-68-65--268 (-20)
Andrew Dresser, Carrollton, 68-66-66-69--269 (-19)
Adam Rubinson, Fort Worth, 68-70-64-67--269 (-19)
Edward Loar, Dallas, 71-67-68-67--273 (-15)
Perry Moss, Shreveport, La., 68-68-66-71--273 (-15)
Full Results

Friday, April 25, 2008

FedEx Kinko's Classic Pre-Qualifying Results

The Champions Tour has been called the hardest golf tour in the world to get on to. That extends to its Monday qualifying procedures. Like we've seen recently with the PGA Tour, the Champions Tour requires golfers with no tour status to take part in a pre-qualifier in order to get into the Monday qualifier. In the PGA Tour pre-qualifiers played recently in Texas, close to 30 golfers advanced from each into the respective Monday qualifiers.

But in the pre-qualifier for the FedEx Kinko's Classic, played Thursday on the Ramrock Course at Horseshoe Bay, only five golfers get to move on to the Monday qualifier.

Those five are:

Rod Murray, Ponca City, Okla., 73
Graham Banister, Raleigh, N.C., 73
Larry Degenhart, Austin, Texas, 73
Joey Gonzalez, San Antonio, Texas, 73
Tim McGraw, Edmond, Okla., 74

The Monday qualifier itself takes place on April 29 at Barton Creek Lakeside Course in Spicewood. And the tournament itself is May 2-4 at The Hills Country Club in Ausin.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Play Golf America Day in Richardson

Play Golf America Day returns to the Dallas area this weekend at Sherrill Park Golf Course in Richardson. The date is Saturday, April 26. Admission is free, and all in attendance receive a free PGA hat and shirt.

Here is the schedule of events:

  • 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. - Putting clinic
  • 10:50 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. - Golf swing basics
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. - Golf swing exhibition with 2007 NTPGA Golf Professional of the Year Ronny Glanton and former tour player Perry Arthur
  • 12:25 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. - Chipping clinic
  • 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. - Golf swing exhibition with 2007 NTPGA Golf Professional of the Year Ronny Glanton and former tour player Perry Arthur
  • 1:50 p.m. to 2:20 p.m. - Putting clinic
  • 2:25 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. - Golf swing basics

Call the Northern Texas PGA at (214) 420-7421 or Sherrill Park Golf Course at (972) 234-1416 for more info.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

EDS Re-Ups with Byron Nelson Championship

It was just a few days ago that EDS chief executive officer Ron Rittenmeyer was making noise about being unhappy with his company's involvement with the tournament. In the wake of Byron Nelson's death, course condition problems, and a deleterious change in dates, the company didn't think it was getting its money worth. Or at least, that's what Rittenmeyer seemed to be saying a few days ago.

Today, the tune is different. Today, in fact, EDS extended its agreement to remain title sponsor of the tournament at least through 2014.

Here's the press release from the PGA Tour:

PLANO, Texas – EDS today announced it has extended its commitment as title sponsor of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship with the sponsorship now running through 2014. This is the second early extension agreed to between EDS and the Salesmanship Club of Dallas since EDS became title sponsor in 2003. Financial terms of the extension were not disclosed.

"We believe in this tournament and appreciate the tremendous impact it has in the Dallas community, and we are excited about the opportunity to play a key role in its future," said Ron Rittenmeyer, chairman, president and chief executive officer of EDS. "The EDS Byron Nelson Championship is our hometown PGA TOUR event and provides a great venue for us to attract our key clients, as well as a wonderful opportunity for our employees to get involved in supporting a great cause. The Championship is woven into the fabric of our employee base. This year alone we have over 300 employees from 24 states and 11 foreign countries volunteering at the tournament.

"Most of all, it allows EDS to honor the legacy of Byron Nelson by continuing our work with the Salesmanship Club of Dallas to raise money to help children and families in the Dallas area," Rittenmeyer emphasized. "The EDS Byron Nelson Championship stands alone among PGA TOUR events in its ability to raise money for charity with more than $100 million raised to date. We are already looking forward to leading the drive for the next $100 million."

"EDS, in large part through Ron Rittenmeyer’s leadership, is very much committed to the continued growth and success of the Byron Nelson Championship and the charitable initiatives of the Salesmanship Club," PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said. “We are extremely pleased to be in a position today to announce that EDS will continue this support through 2014."

"We are thrilled with the extension and appreciate the opportunity to continue our relationship with EDS – the best title sponsor on the PGA TOUR," said Randy Engstrom, president of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. "Above all, this agreement secures our programs for the kids of Dallas for the next six years."

According to Rittenmeyer, several critical factors were evaluated before EDS committed to continue as title sponsor, including the completion of the redesign of the TPC of Las Colinas golf course.

"D.A. Weibring and his team, with the support of the Salesmanship Club, the Four Seasons Resort and its owner, Bentley Forbes, did a fantastic job of making the TPC golf course worthy of a premier PGA TOUR event," said Rittenmeyer. “The quality of the course is a key factor in the tournament’s ability to attract the strongest field possible."

The announcement of this extension, coupled with the debut of the redesigned course, assure a bright future for the tournament.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Futures Tour in McAllen

If you want to support the growth of women's professional golf - and the continued presence of professional golf in the Valley - then head out to Palm View Golf Course in McAllen this weekend and check out the Futures Tour Jalapeno Classic.

This is one of two annual stops by the Futures Tour in Texas, the other coming next week in El Paso.

There are some good, up-and-coming players in the field. Such as Esther Choe, the 2006 AJGA Player of the Year who will likely, some day soon, be a presence on the LPGA Tour. And Vicky Hurst, the photogenic 18-year-old who was AJGA Player of the Year in 2007, and who has very big things in her future.

There are a spate of golfers we've come to know from their presence in Golf Channel series. There are Big Breakers Lori Atsedes, Rachel Bailey, Bridget Dwyer, Courtney Erdman, Christina Lecuyer, Ashley Prange, Sarah Lynn Sargent, Kristina Tucker, Bri Vega and Kim Welch. Plus Perry Swensen, from "Road Trip: Myrtle Beach," and Charlotte Campbell, who is featured in a new series debuting in July, a sort of "Amazing Race" involving golf.

And there are some notable Texas golfers there, too, of course: Kellee Booth, Christi Cano, Lauren Espinosa, Cindy Figg-Currier, Ashley Knoll and Catherine Matranga, among them.

Check out the tournament page on the Futures Tour Web site.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Byron Nelson Monday Qualifier Results

Four golfers earned their spots in the EDS Byron Nelson Championship this week through Monday qualifying on, well, Monday. The qualifier was played at Sherrill Park Golf Course in Richardson. Here is the recap from the NTPGA:

RICHARDSON, Texas - The EDS Byron Nelson Open Qualifying Tournament was conducted at Sherrill Park Golf Course (#1) in Richardson, Texas. Seventy-nine players competed in the Open Qualifying Tournament for a chance to earn one of the four (4) qualifying spots into the 2008 EDS Byron Nelson Championship to be conducted on April 24-27 at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Irving, Texas.

Steve Allan, Jeff Gove, Mitch Adcock and Stuart Deane earned the four qualifying spots. Allan (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Gove (San Marcos, Calif.), both PGA Tour members, set the pace early with rounds of 63 (-8). Allan started on the front nine and birdied his first three holes en route to a front nine scorching 28 (-7) which included seven birdies and two pars. Gove finished strong with five birdies on the back nine to close with a 31 (-5) coming in.

Mitch Adcock (Apopka, Fla.), a member of the Champions Tour, finished with a 65 (-6). Adcock played steady golf going out in 33 (-2) on the back nine and coming in with a 32 (-4) on the front nine. Stuart Deane (Arlington) grabbed the last qualifying spot with a five under par round of 66. Deane closed with a strong score of 30 (-5) on the front nine which was his last nine of the day.

Steve Allan, Scottsdale, Ariz., 28-35--63
Jeff Gove, San Marcos, Calif., 32-31--63
Mitch Adcock, Apopka, Fla., 33-32--65
Stuart Deane, Arlington, 30-36--66
Full Results

EDS Threatens to Drop Byron Nelson Championship

The title sponsor of the Byron Nelson Championship is EDS, and the CEO of EDS isn't happy about much when it comes to the tournament these days. He doesn't like the date. He doesn't like the field the tournament is drawing. He's so unhappy that he's publicly threatening to remove his company from its sponsorship when the current deal expires in two years:

For EDS to remain title sponsor, the PGA Tour needs to help get marquee names back, Mr. Rittenmeyer said. He told Tour commissioner Tim Finchem last week that the tournament needs a date that is more popular with players.

"Our title sponsorship comes to a close in two years, and if he wants us to continue, he's going to have to come to the table and help us," Mr. Rittenmeyer said.

EDS has a right to complain about the change in date. As the Dallas Morning News article quoted above points out, the Nelson was played the second week in May for 25 years. But then the tour decided that time slot would help elevate its own event, the Players Championship, and bumped the Nelson ahead several weeks on the schedule.

But the EDS can attempt to force its way into trying out as many different spots on the schedule as it wants; it won't help. Or it might only help marginally. Tiger Woods will never be back. Phil Mickelson is iffy. Those are the only two stars who really make a big impact on ticket sales. The overall quality of the field might improve slightly with a better date (and so ticket sales might improve slightly); and the fact that the golf course has been greatly improved since last year with a refurbishment led by D.A. Weibring will certainly bring kudos from the players who are there.

But the person who isn't there who matters the most is Byron Nelson. And that's the problem. As I wrote a year and a half ago, a few days after Mr. Nelson's passing, Lord Byron was what drew Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els and Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh to Dallas every year. The man. The legend.

And his passing was guaranteed to weaken the tournament, just as Ben Hogan's passing weakened Colonial. There's nothing that the PGA Tour or EDS or anyone else can do about that.

Walker Wins Firewheel at Garland Classic on Adams Tour

Mark Walker pulled away with a third-round 66, then cruised to a five-stroke victory in the Adams Pro Tour Series Firewheel at Garland Classic, completed Sunday at Firewheel Golf Park in Garland.

Walker, of Hurst, opened with first and second rounds of 69, and trailed Ryan Posey (Dallas) and Andrew Dresser (Carrollton) by a stroke at the midway point of the tournament. But Walker seized control with his third-round 66. All three golfers finished with fourth-round 73s.

Walker earned $15,000 for the victory. Posey and Dresser tied for second, each earning $6,067.

Top 5
Mark Walker, Hurst, 69-69-66-73--277 (-11)
Ryan Posey, Dallas, 68-69-72-73--282 (-6)
Andrew Dresser, Carrollton, 68-69-72-73--282 (-6)
Jeff Bell, Plano, 75-69-69-70--283 (-5)
Brian Kortan, Albuquerque, 67-71-72-73--283 (-5)
Full Results

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Texas ... Um ... Four-Step?

The PGA Tour sent out an interesting note the other day about the four tour events in Texas, the Houston Open, Byron Nelson Championship, Colonial and Texas Open. And that interesting note is this: No golfer has ever won all four tournaments in his career.

That's a little surprising, because all four tournaments have been around for a long time. There's one golfer who is still active and has a chance to become the first. Corey Pavin could claim that distinction by winning the Nelson. Corey's closing in on 50 very fast, though, so his time is running short (no pun intended).

There are nine golfers who've won three of the four Texas stops in his career. Here they are, along with the one tournament they did not win:

  • Bruce Crampton - Byron Nelson Championship
  • Ben Crenshaw - Houston Open
  • Roberto De Vicenzo - Texas Open
  • Ben Hogan - Houston Open
  • Gene Littler - Byron Nelson Championship
  • Corey Pavin - Byron Nelson Championship
  • Arnold Palmer - Byron Nelson Championship
  • Sam Snead - Houston Open
  • Mike Souchak - Byron Nelson Championship

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nelson Pre-Qualifying Results

Nearly 250 golfers took part in the Pre-Qualifier for the PGA Tour EDS Byron Nelson Championship on Tuesday. That's 235 golfers competing for 58 spots in the Monday qualifier that will take place next week. Here's the report from the NTPGA:

The EDS Byron Nelson Pre-Qualifying Tournament was conducted at Sherrill Park Golf Course (#1) in Richardson and Firewheel Golf Park (Masters/Champions) in Garland. Due to a large field of 235 players entered in the Pre-Qualifying Tournament, the field was split at random between the two host facilities. One-hundred 18 players competed at Sherrill Park Golf Course (#1) and 117 competed at Firewheel Golf Park (Masters/Champions).

Players were attempting to grab one of the 50 spots and ties available to move onto the Open Qualifying Tournament to be held on Monday, April 21 at Sherrill Park Golf Course (#1). The low 23 scores and ties from each host site advanced to the Open Qualifying Tournament.

Windy conditions made scoring a premium as only ten (10) contestants were able to shoot even par or better between both sites. Fifty-eight players officially qualified and advanced to the Open Qualifying Tournament. Twenty-nine players advanced from Sherrill Park Golf Course by shooting 75 (+4) or lower and 29 players advanced from Firewheel Golf Park (Masters/Champions) by shooting 76 (+4) or lower. The Open Qualifying Tournament will have four (4) qualifying spots available into the 2008 EDS Byron Nelson Championship to be conducted on April 24-27 at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Irving, Texas.

Here are the golfers who qualified from each location:

Sherrill Park No. 1
Luke Antonelli, Silt, CO, 34-35--69 -2
Will Dodson, Dallas, 37-34--71 E
J.J. Wood, Norman, OK, 34-37--71 E
Brock Mulder, Dallas, 35-37--72 +1
Andrew Dresser, Carrollton, 36-36--72 +1
Brett Spencer (a), Plano, 36-36--72 +1
Justin Ahasic, Sugar Grove, IL, 39-33--72 +1
Adam Babb, Arlington, 35-37--72 +1
Brett Myers, Broken Arrow, OK, 35-37--72 +1
Brandon Immel, Dallas, 33-39--72 +1
Billy Castro, Von Ormy, 36-37--73 +2
Josh Jones (a), The Colony, 38-35--73 +2
Chris Thompson, Rowlett, 34-39--73 +2
Stuart Deane, Arlington, 34-39--73 +2
Michael Parks, Frisco, 36-38--74 +3
Harold Herring III (a), Harker Heights, 38-36--74 +3
Jeremey Jeansonne, Keithville, LA, 36-38--74 +3
Chris Myers, Southlake, 36-38--74 +3
Daniel Mitchell, Edmond, OK, 39-35--74 +3
Sang Yi (a), Carrollton, 38-36--74 +3
Jaxon Brigman, Frisco, 36-38--74 +3
Troy Lewis, Keller, 41-34--75 +4
Brad Besler, Blessing, 38-37--75 +4
Christopher Brown, Fort Worth, 38-37--75 +4
Bruce Smith, College Station, 37-38--75 +4
Stephen Reed, Houston, 39-36--75 +4
Kevin O'Connell, Fort Worth, 36-39--75 +4
Kevin Newman, Conroe, 36-39--75 +4
Cary Tremper (a), Dallas, 36-39--75 +4

Firewheel Masters/Champions
Matt Loving, San Antonio, 34-34--68 -4
John Elizondo, San Antonio, 33-37--70 -2
Derek Abel, Frisco, 37-33--70 -2
Tyler Leon, Dallas, 39-32--71 -1
David D. Schultz, Dallas, 37-35--72 E
Will Garry, Garland, 39-33--72 E
Jesse Schulte, Hutchinson, KS, 37-35--72 E
Matthew Rosenfeld, Plano, 39-34--73 +1
Brian Wilson, Fort Worth, 38-35--73 +1
Charlie Soule, Longmont, CO, 36-38--74 +2
Colby Beckstrom, Colleyville, 36-38--74 +2
Brett Callas, Houston, 35-39--74 +2
Marco Gortana, Garland, 38-36--74 +2
Todd Rossetti, McKinney, 37-37--74 +2
Ted Soule, Austin, 37-37--74 +2
Lance Littleton, San Antonio, 37-38--75 +3
Beau Glover, Sherwood, AR, 37-38--75 +3
Benjamin McCaslin, Austin, 37-38--75 +3
Scott Abbott, Dallas, 38-37--75 +3
Shaun Melville, Lubbock, 37-38--75 +3
Justin Fraley, Rowlett, 39-36--75 +3
Bryce Benson, Arlington, 39-36--75 +3
Jeremy Langdale, Midland, 37-39--76 +4
Jason Laing, Irving, 40-36--76 +4
Derek Watson, Andrews, 39-37--76 +4
Anthony Paolucci (a), Dallas, 41-35--76 +4
Cody Blankenship (a), Rockwall, 42-34--76 +4
Andrew Connell, Spring, 41-35--76 +4
Edward Loar, Dallas, 37-39--76 +4

Full Results

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Crown Colony Claims State Club Team Championship

Crown Colony Country Club of Lufkin - represented by Jonathan Shipley, John Kennedy and Randy Lance - won a tiebreaker and the Texas Golf Association's 2008 State Club Team Championship on Sunday. The tournament was played at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving. Here is the report from the TGA:

The final round of the 2008 State Club Team Championship was met with cool, windy conditions on Sunday morning. The sun shined brightly all weekend, but a strong north wind made the course very difficult. Just like on day one, no teams were able to break par and only one player was able to break par individually. Even with the difficult conditions, the competition was fierce, as four teams finished within one shot of the lead.

The competition was so close that a tiebreaker using the third player’s score had to be used to determine the winner. The team of Jonathan Shipley, John Kennedy, and Randy Lance from Crown Colony Country Club won the tiebreaker and the 2008 State Club Team Championship. Shipley’s round of 72 and Kennedy’s round of 74 gave Crown Colony the low team score of the day with 146 and a two day total of 299, while Lance’s round of 79 turned out to be the difference in the tiebreaker. The team from Midland Country Club also finished with a 299 two day total, but Tim Kohn’s round of 82 was not quite good enough for the victory.

One shot behind the champions, there was also a tie for third place with the teams of Dallas National Golf Club and Redstone Golf Club. Kevin Boscamp with a round of 76 and Mark Lindberg with a round 74 combined for Dallas National’s total of 150. Joey Guillion fired the low round of the day with a one under par 70. Guillion combined with Edward Rowe’s round of 77 for Redstone’s second round total of 147.

The 2008 State Club Team Championship, presented by Golfweek Magazine, is open to clubs that are current members in good standing of the Texas Golf Association.

Clubs are responsible for selecting the three-man teams by any means they wish, but each team member must meet the following eligibility requirements: Be a male amateur member in good standing of the club listed on the entry form; be at least 25 years of age by April 12, 2008; have a current USGA handicap of 8.4 or less issued from the member club listed on the entry form; and a current resident of Texas.

Format for the Club Team consists of all three team members playing two rounds of individual stroke play, with the two lowest scores counting towards their daily total.

More info and scores

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Trip Kuehne Ends Career at the Masters

The Kuehne clan spent the week in Augusta, Ga., gathered to watch Trip Kuehne bid farewell to competitive golf. What a way to go out in style, playing in The Masters.

Trip, who's been called the last great amateur (in the sense of career amateur - the great golfer, the PGA Tour-caliber golfer, who decides to always remain an amateur) isn't giving up golf. But he is retiring from high-level competitive golf, at age 35, to devote his time to his wife and son, and to his Dallas business.

Gathered in Augusta to watch Kuehne's farewell were Trip's wife and son, his mom and dad, sister Kelli, brother Hank, Hank's girlfriend Venus Williams, Trip's friends Tony Romo and Terrence Newman, and assorted other friends and family.

While Trip missed the cut, he did post a spirited 72 in the second round, and did finish as low amateur.

Golf magazine writer Alan Shipnuck had a very good profile of the Kuehnes in last month's magazine. You can read it here. Yesterday, on golf.com, he wrote about Kuehne's farewell round at The Masters:

Kuehne, a 35-year-old hedge fund guru from Dallas, had earned his way to Augusta by winning the U.S. Mid-Am, joining his brother, Hank, and sister, Kelli, in the pantheon of USGA champions. (Trip had a famous near-miss when Tiger Woods dropped an epic comeback on him in the finals of the 1994 U.S. Amateur.) Kelli and Hank have chased glory as touring professionals, but Trip always wanted a different experience in life, choosing to balance big-time amateur golf with a wife and son and a high-stakes career in finance. The Kuehnes are a fascinating clan, and I told their long, tangled tale in last month's Golf Magazine. Friday was a perfect microcosm of the family's experience in golf, full of exhilaration and heartbreak.

Kuehne's shaky first-round 78 betrayed the rust of a full-time desk jockey, but he has always been a fighter. Two early bogeys on Friday seemed to put any dreams of making the cut out of reach, but then Trip birdied seven and nine to the raucous cheers of his personal army, including both of his siblings. Kuehne's wife, Dusti, estimated that 50 friends and family had turned up this week to be a part of this swan song, including a pair of Trip's Dallas golf buddies, Tony Romo and Terrence Newman of Cowboys fame. Even more inspiration came by way of Kuehne's 8-year-old son Will. "He believes in me 110 percent," Trip said. "I wish I had as much faith in myself as he does in me. And every time I got a little nervous, I would look over and Will had a big smile on his face and he was so proud of his dad."

On the par-5 13th Kuehne busted a drive and then hit the prettiest little 6-iron you've ever seen for a kick-in eagle. At four over par he was on the verge of earning a weekend tee time, and everyone in his gallery was living and dying with every shot.

Alas, there have been few happy endings for the Kuehnes. Hank has been sidelined for the last two years due to injury, and Kelli has spent the last five years fighting to retain her LPGA playing privileges. Trip's dreams ended on Augusta National's 16th hole when he made an ugly double bogey. The Kuehnes have always been brutally honest with each other, and Kelli described her brother's fatal tee shot as "a perfect shank."

Trip still finished like a champ, making an incredible par save on the 17th after doinking the Eisenhower tree with his drive. At 18 he blew his drive left of the fairway. Kelli and Hank stood directly behind the ball to get a clear look at one of their brother's final competitive swings.

Arriving at his ball, Trip smiled at them and said, "I'm getting tired of this pine straw."

Said Hank, "I'm gonna start standing in the fairway, where I'm safe."

Trip did well to get his shot in the front bunker. From there he saved another par with one last eight-footer, for a very commendable 72. The family patriarch, Ernie, greeted his eldest son in a spot only a few feet from where Tiger Woods and his father, Earl, shared their famous embrace in 1997. Ernie and Trip hugged for a good 15 seconds, tears flowing freely between them. "This is the end of a journey that started 27 years ago," said Ernie.

"All I wanted was an opportunity on the back nine here to make the cut, and I had it and just didn't quite get it done," Trip said. "But it was a hell of a ride."

So long Trip, thanks for the ride.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Let's Get Small

Or let's get smaller handicaps, anyway. The May 2008 issue of Golf Digest includes a feature on those golfers around the country who lowered their handicaps by the most during 2007. Nationally, the biggest improver was Eddy Delzer of North Dakota. Delzer improved his handicap from 7.5 to +2.3 in 2007. (That's not the largest absolute drop in strokes, but is the largest drop in ratio using a GD calculated formula whose details I won't burden you with.)

The magazine also lists the four biggest improvers in each state - the most-improved low-handicap and middle-handicap men; the most-improved woman; and the most-improved junior.

So let's give a shout-out to Texas' representatives:

  • Landon Allen, Corsicana Country Club, from 2.5 to +2.9
  • Matt Poole, South Shore Harbor Country Club, from 23.6 to 11.7
  • Catherine Matranga, Ridglea Country Club, from 1.6 to +2.6
  • Kayli Quinton, Blackhorse Golf Club, from 11.1 to 1.0

You might recognize Matranga's name. She was a very successful collegiate player at TCU who has since turned pro and is playing the Futures Tour.

Friday, April 04, 2008

NTPGA Junior Tour Schedule Announced

The Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation on Friday released the 2008 Ewing Automotive Junior Tour schedule, a series of more than 200 tournaments split into the Metro, East and West chapters, and into different age levels.

All those tournaments lead up to the season-ending Ewing Automotive Tour Championship at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Aug. 18-19.

Tournaments are open to NTPGA Junior Golf Foundation members (visit juniorgolf.ntpga.org. The Metro Chapter tournaments are played, of course, in the DFW Metroplex. East Chapter tournaments range from Texarkana to Canton, from Jacksonville to Tyler, Marshall, Longview, Frankston and points between. And the West Chapter tournaments take place in Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Midland, Odessa and other points in West Texas and the Panhandle.

The complete schedules are available here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Trent Leon Named National Amateur of the Month

trent leonCongratulations to Trent Leon of Dallas for being named National Amateur of the Month by the venerable Southern Golf Association. The 105-year-old SGA hands out the honor after a vote by a 15-person panel made up of golf officials, coaches and journalists.

Leon, a junior at Oklahoma State University, received the award for March after winning the U.S. Collegiate Championship in Alpharetta, Ga. Leon birdied five holes down the stretch for a 1-stroke victory over a field that included such college stars as Leon's OSU teammate Rickie Fowler and USC's Jamie Lovemark.

The SGA said in announcing the honor:

The U.S. Collegiate became the first individual college title for Leon, a junior from Dallas . His 54-hole total was 8-under-par 208. He followed that performance with a third-place showing in the Azalea Invitational a week later in Charleston , S.C.

Leon is part of the golf family that is the greatest Dallas dynasty since the Kuehnes. Brother Tyler was Trent's teammate at OSU before turning pro and is now playing on the Adams Pro Tour Series. Sister Taylor was an All-American at Georgia before turning pro. She has non-exempt status on the LPGA in 2008 and is playing on the Futures Tour.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Put Texas Golf Headlines on Your Site (free)

Hey, you Texas golf courses and Texas golf organizations - and my fellow Texas bloggers - want to put a headline feed from Texas Golf on your site?

We've always had our RSS feed available, and if you (or your webmaster) knows how to manipulate it you can customize the look of a Texas Golf headline feed to blend in with the existing design of your Web site.

But if you're like me, then that's a little too complicated for you. So I created the "blidget" (blog widget) now seen in our sidebar to the right (just below that first ad -- look for the little Texas flagstick and our headlines in a box), a nifty little thing indeed. If you want to put it on your site - and thereby have the Texas Golf news feed with just a simple cut-and-paste maneuver - then click on the "Get Widget" link at the bottom of the blidget and copy the embed code.

Cowboys QB Romo 36th in Big Amateur Tourney

tony romo golfTony Romo is a darn good golfer. The Cowboys quarterback loves to play, and has even tried to qualify for the PGA Tour Byron Nelson Classic.

Last weekend he wrapped up play in the Azalea Invitational, a major amateur tournament that draws a field including some of the top collegiate and amateur golfers in the U.S. Golfweek reports:

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo finished T-34 at 19-over 303, a shot ahead of former U.S. Amateur runner-up and Walker Cup captain Buddy Marucci. Romo shot 2-under 69 in the third round.

Romo posted rounds of 73-80-69-81 to finish at 19-over 303. That 303 total is better than it sounds when you take into account that nobody finished below par - and only two golfers did better than 8-over - in the event played at The Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina. The winner, University of Alabama-Birmingham golfer Zack Sucher, finished at even.

Other notables: All-American and Curtis Cup team member Webb Simpson, second, 2-over; top college golfers Trent Leon and Kevin Tway, 8-over; Trip Kuehne at 14-over.

Houston Open Monday Qualifying Results

Here are the four golfers who advanced into the Shell Houston Open field through Monday qualifying:

Steve Allan, Scottsdale, Ariz., 65
Craig Kanada, The Woodlands, 66
Andrew Parr, Reston, Va., 66
Tripp Isenhour, Orlando, Fla., 66

This is a good example of how difficult it is to play your way into a PGA Tour event through Monday qualifying. (And the fact that - unless you have PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour status - you must first get through a qualifier to get into the Monday qualifier). Not only are you competing against experienced Tour players, but then you have to go low against them, too.

Among the recognizable names who failed to qualify were Neal Lancaster, Robert Gamez, Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, Jeff Gove, Brad Elder, Lee Janzen, Ted Purdy, Skip Kendall, Ryan Palmer, Guy Boros, Kris Cox and David Gossett.