Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Spirit Returns to Whispering Pines

Thanks to Golf Babes for reminding me of this: If you're going to be anywhere in the vicinity of Trinity this week, head out to Whispering Pines Golf Club and check out The Spirit International.

Since its founding in 2001, The Spirit has become one of the premiere international competitions for young amateur golfers - usually college-age, sometimes younger. Countries send four golfers - two women, two men - who compete both individually for men's and women's titles, plus as teams for men's, women's and overall titles.

This year, the American team is captained by Paula Creamer, and the players on Team USA are Jordan Speith, the No. 1-ranked junior boys player in the U.S.; college star Ben Martin, runner-up at the 2009 U.S. Amateur; college freshman Jennifer Johnson, the runner-up at the U.S. Women's Amateur this year; and 14-year-old phenom Alexis Thompson, the No. 1-ranked girls junior who has played very well in a handful of LPGA appearances.

Other notables this year include Caroline Masson, one of the top amateurs in Europe, playing for Germany;and Matteo Manassero, who won the 2009 British Amateur at age 16, playing for Italy.

Some of the young golfers hitting Whispering Pines this week are guaranteed to be stars down the road; you only have to look at the list of players who've played The Spirit in the past to know that. Those past players include Nick Flanagan, Martin Kaymer, Brandt Snedeker, Ross Fisher and Michael Sim on the men's side; Lorena Ochoa, Minea Blomqvist, Na Yeon Choi, Hee Young Park, Jane Park, Joo Mi Kim, Aree Song and Yani Tseng on the women's side.

Plus the American captain this year, Paula Creamer.

Practice rounds are on Tuesday (Nov. 3); the tournament starts Wednesday (Nov. 4) and runs through Saturday (Nov. 7). Parking and admission is free for spectators.

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