Category Archives: National Golf

Weather Steals Spotlight in Round One of Puerto Rico Open

By A.J. Jones

Rio Grande, Puerto Rico – On day one of the Puerto Rico open, a welcomed light drizzle of rain began just after 1 p.m. but within a minute it subsided. Closer to 2 p.m. the sky opened and presented the field of players and spectators of the tournament with just enough rain to provide relief from the Caribbean sun that was intensifying, keeping the temperature comfortably in the low 80’s.

Although wind gusts reached 30 miles per hour, the weather did not seem to phase Thursday’s leader, Andrés Romero, who finished the day at 6-under-par 66.  

According to his interpreter, “He says he likes playing in the wind, he always liked playing in the wind, …very tough for everyone, not only for him. So yeah, he has to think a lot more than a regular round because, for example, No. 15, he hit a 6-iron from 150 yards, but yeah, he was playing well and feeling confident so that helped a lot.”

Of the four Puerto Ricans playing in the tournament, including Max Alverio, Jeronimo Esteve, Edward Figueroa and Rafael Campos, Figueroa finished at the top of the group at one-under-par 71. He told El Vocero de Puerto Rico that despite weather conditions, he was satisfied with the way he played and he is looking forward to getting back on the course on Friday.

Figueroa stated, “I’m pleased with it. I feel like I could have done a little bit better. I mean, obviously every round you feel like that but it was tough. I mean, it’s just crazy out here, you know. On the island the conditions change so quickly, so drastically. You’re pretty much playing in a hurricane at one point and then it’s clear and it’s beautiful right now… But I love it. I love every second being out here and the support from everybody… It means a lot to me.

Although the sun, the rain and the wind were mitigating factors in round one of the Puerto Rico Open, the challenging Tom Kite designed Coco Beach Golf & Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico offers an adequate amount of shade and spectacular views of the island’s mountains and beaches. Puerto Rico has hosted the tournament for a decade, with a break in 2018 to offer a pro-am which raised funds for Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

This year, the goal is to secure $750,000 in much-needed sports equipment for local youth. With the assistance of supporters from around the world, the forecast for the tournament’s success is bright.

Puerto Rico Open welcomes PGA TOUR for 11th annual edition

By PGA Staff

RÍO GRANDE, PUERTO RICO – The Puerto Rico Open kicks off tomorrow at the Coco Beach Golf & Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has been a proud host of the PGA TOUR over the last decade and is excited to host the event in 2019 and 2020. With a one-year hiatus in 2018 to host a charity pro-am for Hurricane Maria recovery, the Puerto Rico Open is now back and stronger than ever as Puerto Rico’s major professional sporting event.

The island welcomes incoming World Golf Hall of Famer Retief Goosen and six other former major winners including Graeme McDowell and Trevor Immelman to begin its second decade on the PGA TOUR schedule. Daniel Berger, and defending champion D.A. Points also highlight the lineup.

Since the tournament’s inception in 2008, the Puerto Rico Open has also helped elevate the careers of several PGA TOUR stars with strong play, including the likes of Jason Day, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Emiliano Grillo, making it a coveted tournament amongst PGA TOUR players. This year, over 130 golfers will be playing for a $3 million purse, with the winner earning 300 FedExCup points. Amongst them, four Puerto Ricans will be playing on home turf, including Max Alverio, Jero Esteves, Edward Figueroa and Web.com Tour’s Rafael Campos.

Born in San Juan, Campos is the only Puerto Rican with a world ranking (381st) and has competed in all 10 Puerto Rico Opens, with top-10s in the last two playings (T10/2017, T8/2016). Campos recently became the first Puerto Rican to win on the Web.com Tour when he won The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic last month, moving to No. 3 in “The 25”. “The 25” represents the top-25 golfers in the Web.com Tour Regular Season who are guaranteed a PGA TOUR card for the following season, hence placing him at the cusp of earning his PGA TOUR card for the first time.

For over a decade, the Puerto Rico Open has also become an important platform to promote Puerto Rico as a world-class golf destination, as well as becoming a key driver of economic development on the island.

The Government of Puerto Rico, through the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), has been one of the event’s main sponsors since its debut in 2008, leveraging its worldwide exposure to benefit the Island’s bustling tourism economy. “Through the visit of professional golfers, their families, fans, international media representatives and tournament staff, this year’s event is expected to generate over $10 million in economic impact to the Island, 5,250 room nights, 600 direct and indirect jobs, 600 direct and indirect jobs, 25 hours of Golf Channel coverage, a reach of 3.8 million viewers, and 4 days of great golf for the more than 10,000 spectators in attendance”, said PRTC Executive Director, Carla Campos.  “The Puerto Rico Open positions the Island as a perfect destination for top-tier sporting events and helps us to reinforce Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s message that Puerto Rico is open for business and for visitors”.

“We’re excited about the PGA TOUR returning to Puerto Rico in 2019 and 2020 for the largest annual professional sporting event on the Island,” said PGA TOUR Chief Tournaments & Competitions Officer Andy Pazder. “For more than a decade, Puerto Rico has been an incredible host to the PGA TOUR with its beauty, hospitality and weather and our members certainly look forward to another tremendous tournament experience at Coco Beach Golf & Country Club.”

John Norris, Senior VP, PGA TOUR Tournament Business Affairs added, “The PGA TOUR is proud to continue its partnership with the Puerto Rico Open in this comeback year. The Puerto Rico Open has been a tremendous partner in promoting and growing the game of golf in Puerto Rico and making a positive impact in the community. We look forward to an exciting four days of golf in one of the premier golf destinations in the Caribbean”.

“For 12 years the Puerto Rico Open has been the main sporting event on the island. Through a close partnership with Title Sponsor, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the tournament provides a boost to the economy through tourism and the hiring of local vendors. The unique opportunity showcases the wonders of Puerto Rico to millions of viewers around the world. More importantly, the Puerto Rico Open is an unmatched platform to support the work of dozens of non-profit organizations that serve children and youth, helping promote sports and sporting values in our younger generations,” said Pedro Zorrilla, producer of the Puerto Rico Open.

Players, fans and Golf Channel viewers will get to see why Puerto Rico has received numerous accolades as a top travel destination in 2019, including The New York Times’ “Places to Go in 2019,” Costal Living’s “Top Tropical Destinations for 2019,” Forbes’ “Best Caribbean Beaches for 2019,” and Vogue’s “Here’s Where to Travel in 2019.” In partnership with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s new Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), will be using the worldwide exposure to invite travelers to visit the Island. “Our mission is to create a global brand for Puerto Rico and revitalize tourism to newly prosperous levels,” said Discover Puerto Rico CEO, Brad Dean. “Travel and tourism can drive economic growth and change lives when done well”.

The Puerto Rico Open celebrates its 12th year of giving back to the community, having donated over $1.5 million to more than 35 non-profit organizations. In 2019, the Puerto Rico Open is partnering with Good Sports, providing little league teams in Puerto Rico with much-needed sports equipment. The goal is to raise $750,000 worth of sports equipment for children in schools and sports teams across the Island. In addition to Puerto Rican golfer Rafael Campos, other professional Puerto Rican athletes have joined the cause, including Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (MLB Hall of Famer), Miguel Cotto (retired world champ boxer), Adriana Diaz (Pan American Games medalist – table tennis), Maria Torres (LPGA) and J.J. Barea (NBA point guard – Dallas Mavericks).

The Puerto Rico Open will be broadcast on the Golf Channel from Thursday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET, Saturday from 2:30 to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Farmers Insurance Open Tiger Effect: Tiger Woods’ Fans Remain Loyal

By A.J. Jones

Justin Rose played incredibly well to win the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines at 21-under. Although there were a number of golfers who played well, it cannot be ignored that Tiger Woods had more fans on the course watching him finish 11 strokes behind Rose, than the entire field of players combined.

The people who love Tiger represent all walks of life. And although Woods has had his professional and personal ups and downs, his fans remain extremely loyal. They brave immensely crowded conditions to get a glimpse of their favorite son. At Torrey Pines, fans followed Woods for 18 holes, often not being able to see more than the top of his head because there were several additional rows of spectators in front of them. They still enthusiastically continued to cheer without regard to his position on the leaderboard.

When Woods is added to a field of tournament contenders, it elevates the level of excitement surrounding the event. He brings droves of fans; fans who bring a level of devotion to a player that is rarely seen in any sport. For those who love to follow Tiger Woods, his next PGA appearance will be in the Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club on February 11-17, 2019. Anyone who has never witnessed the Tiger Effect, in person, may want to go to the Genesis Open in Pacific Palisades, California to experience it firsthand.

BETHUNE-COOKMAN WOMEN AND MEN CAPTURE TITLES AGAIN AT 32ND PGA MINORITY COLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIP

For Bethune Cookman University, it was yet another impressive example of a dynasty in cruise control at the 32nd PGA Minority Collegiate Championship at PGA Golf Club. The Wildcats captured a record seventh-straight—and 15th overall—Women’s crown in collegiate golf’s most culturally significant Championship. Meanwhile, the Men’s team notched their third-consecutive PGA Minority Collegiate Championship and 10th title overall. The teams from Daytona Beach rocketed right out of the gate and never let off the throttle throughout the 54 holes of competition. Paced by medalist Mackenzie Butzer who had a final round 1-under par 71 (70-75-71 216), the Bethune Cookman Women (297-307-299 903) defeated runner-up University of the Incarnate Word by 27 strokes on the Ryder Course. North Carolina A&T finished third, another seven strokes back. “This is overwhelming,” said Butzer. “This is my last year, and I gave it all I had. I had fun and played easy. Everything seemed to be clicking.” MORE: Final results from the 2018 PGA Minority Collegiate Championship Meanwhile, the Bethune Cookman men (286-282-286 854) shot 10-under par for the Championship, winning by an amazing 57 strokes over Savannah State on the Wanamaker Course. The University of Incarnate Word placed third. For Bethune Cookman, it was a three-day showcase of utmost command. After closing out the Championship on No. 18, the women’s team sprayed the men’s team with a water bottle shower that would have rivaled a dramatic victory celebration. “It was so fun to see our student athletes end the season like this,” said Bethune Cookman Head Coach Danny Forshey. The Bethune Cookman Men were led by medalist Marcus Sundlof, of Sweden (65-70-71 206), who bested his teammate Christian Hovstadius for the honor by seven strokes. “It feels great,” said Sundlof, a sophomore who overcame a wrist injury at the beginning of the year. “We had a lot of team wins, but I wasn’t playing well personally. It’s great to finish off the year this way.” A history of excellence in the Championship was the overall theme for each team division winner. Division II was won by California State University-Dominguez Hills for the third time in the past four years, as the Toros recorded a 15-shot victory over Lincoln University. Virginia Union’s Sergio Escalante took Division II Medalist honors with a 54-hole Championship total of 220. “This tournament is always challenging,” said Toros Head Coach Ron Eastman. “The rankings don’t matter, because everyone plays from the heart.” Despite starting its golf program eight years ago, the University of Houston-Victoria won its third-straight NAIA title—and a Division record fourth overall—by defeating runner-up Governors State by 12 strokes. The two teams started the day four strokes apart, before Houston-Victoria pulled away. Governors State’s Matt Contey was NAIA medalist with a three-day total of 222. MORE: Photos from the 2018 PGA Minority Collegiate Championship “It was tough competition,” said Houston-Victoria Head Coach Christi Cano. “We had to grind it out for our victory today.” For the second straight year, the Men’s Individual title was won by the University of Connecticut’s Nabeel Kahn, who overcame a rusty start to the Championship for a 2-under par final round 70 (75-70-70 215) to win by 12 strokes over both Palm Beach Atlantic’s Siyan Liu and West Florida’s Joseph Stills. “Any win is a good feeling,” said Khan. “I started rough on the first day. It wasn’t like an outright win. It was grit.” The Women’s Individual prize was earned by St. John’s (N.Y.) University sophomore Linda Wang (72-73-73 218), who defeated runner-up Rachelle Orme of Savannah State by nine strokes. In a weather-related quirk designed to get ahead of the heavy rains forecasted to arrive from Mother Nature on Mother’s Day, the final round actually began on Saturday, as the teams played 27 holes overall, including the first nine holes of the Championship’s final stanza. The final nine holes were completed on Sunday morning in slightly rainy and muggy conditions. The PGA Minority Collegiate Championship is the most culturally significant championship in collegiate golf. In 2006, the PGA of America was granted complete ownership and management by the National Minority Collegiate Golf Scholarship Fund.

Callaway Signs College Player Of The Year Sam Burns

Burns was a dominant player in college golf during the 2016-17 season, winning four tournaments. He also claimed the NCAA Division I Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year, and was voted SEC Player of the Year and a First Team All-American.

Burns also posted a T6 finish as an amateur at the Barbasol Championship in July. In fact, he posted 18 under par to set the single tournament scoring record (in relation to par) by an amateur in the history of the PGA Tour.

“I am so excited to play Callaway as I start my professional career,” Burns said. “I have been using their clubs and have seen just how good the performance is, especially in my new driver and irons. I’m entering this next phase of my golf career with a lot of confidence.”

As a full Callaway Staffer, Burns will use Callaway clubs, balls, bag, gloves and an Odyssey Putter. He is currently playing a GBB Epic Driver, GBB Epic Fairway Wood, Apex Pro 16 Irons and an Odyssey O-Works #7S Putter.

Burns will add to our tremendous group of talented young players, a list that currently includes Patrick Reed, Daniel Berger, Adam Hadwin, Wesley Bryan, Ollie Schniederjans, Aaron Wise, Branden Grace, Thomas Pieters, Michelle Wie, Grayson Murray, Patrick Rodgers, Emiliano Grillo, and Maverick McNealy, who signed with Callaway earlier this month.

You can follow Sam on Twitter and Instagram.

LPGA Announces Kingsmill Championship Contract Extension

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., – The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and Kingsmill Resort announced recently a contract extension for the Kingsmill Championship Kingsmill Resort, which has held the Kingsmill Championship tournament annually since 2003, will renew its title sponsorship for an additional three years (2018-2020).

“We are thrilled Kingsmill Resort has extended our long-term partnership as it ensures that we will continue the rich tradition of showcasing the best golfers in the world, at one of the very best resorts in the world,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan.

“Everything at Kingsmill is first class –– from the beautiful resort, to the championship River Course, to the incredible volunteers, to the way they treat players and fans alike.”

The contract extension allows the LPGA to continue to add to the list of past Kingsmill Championship winners, which includes the likes of LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb.

“Kingsmill Resort is honored and incredibly excited to once again partner with the LPGA Tour as we announce the extension of a 35-year-old tradition of professional golf being played at Kingsmill Resort,” Kingsmill Resort’s Chief Operations Officer John Hilker said. “On behalf of our staff and the thousands of volunteers who make the Kingsmill Championship possible, we look forward to working within the Hampton Roads community to provide individuals, families and juniors an opportunity to create and share lifelong memories surrounding the game of golf.”

At the 2017 Kingsmill Championship, current World No. 2 Lexi Thompson famously skydived into her pro-am tee time and then went on to set a tournament scoring record and capture her eighth career win on the LPGA Tour. Thompson was thrilled to hear the LPGA is continuing its annual stop in Williamsburg, saying, “I’m excited to hear that the LPGA will continue to have the Kingsmill Championship. It’s always been one of my favorite stops on Tour with some of the best fans. I can’t wait to return to the Kingsmill Resort next year to defend my title.”

LPGA Tour players consistently rave about the Kingsmill Resort, especially three-time Kingsmill Championship winner and LPGA Tour veteran Cristie Kerr, who said at this year’s tournament: “I just love the feel of the place. It’s a big golf course. It’s a classic golf course with very good greens. I just love the layout.”

Seven Named as 2017 Inductees into the PGA of America Hall of Fame

By PGA of America

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Gary Player, Renee Powell, Mickey Wright and Lew Worsham, a foursome that impacted American and global golf, lead a class of seven inductees to be enshrined in the PGA of America Hall of Fame.

The 2017 class, to be honored Nov. 2, at the PGA’s 101st Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, also features 2012 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Mike Schultz of Tequesta, Florida; Joe Tesori of Dewitt, New York; and the late visionary golf administrator George Henry Schneiter, formerly of Salt Lake City.

“The PGA of America takes great pride in welcoming this exceptional class into the PGA Hall of Fame. They represent some of the most significant contributors to our Association and to the game of golf,” said PGA of America President Paul Levy. “This class captured many of the prize jewels of our sport; stood strong against social injustice; inspired junior players and future professionals; gave hope to military Veterans; and whose on-course success left an indelible mark in our sport. Their names will be inscribed among those who have made golf the greatest game.”

Nicklaus Companies and Jack Nicklaus Partner With PGA REACH

By PGA of America

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — PGA REACH, the 501 (c)(3) charitable foundation of the PGA of America, and the Nicklaus Companies announced a historic partnership to support PGA REACH in its mission of impacting lives by enabling access to PGA Members, PGA Sections, and the game of golf.

The partnership includes financial support from the Nicklaus Companies, as well as a personal commitment from its founder, Jack Nicklaus, to make an impact on all three areas of focus for PGA REACH: Youth, Military, and Diversity & Inclusion. The Nicklaus Companies will become a PGA REACH Trustee, and Jack Nicklaus will serve as a spokesperson for PGA REACH. He will also help promote PGA Junior League Golf, which is a fun, social and inclusive opportunity for boys and girls to learn and enjoy the game of golf in a team environment under the direction of PGA and LPGA Professionals.

“I have a long history with the PGA of America, and I have always had great respect and appreciation for what they do as an organization and through their membership,” said Jack Nicklaus, who last year celebrated 50 years of membership in the organization. Nicklaus tied Walter Hagen’s record of five PGA Championship victories in 1980 with his win at Oak Hill Country Club, while his wife, Barbara, received the inaugural PGA First Lady of Golf award in 1998.

“From my earliest days learning the game from PGA Professional Jack Grout, to the years helping raise money for junior golf programs, I have been passionate about the role of PGA Professionals as the day-to-day caretakers of the game and those who help grow the game at the green-grass level. We are here to make an impact, and I hope our role can draw others in the game to join us.”

In addition, the Nicklaus Companies will become an Official Partner of PGA REACH and the PGA of America. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Nicklaus Companies products to PGA Member facilities will benefit PGA REACH.

“I believe that there is no person who embodies the values and traditions of the game better than Jack Nicklaus,” said Nicklaus Companies Chairman Howard Milstein. “We are dedicated as a company to giving back and growing the game with the PGA, and we are proud to partner with PGA REACH as a Trustee, building the game’s future.”

“We’re honored that Jack Nicklaus, Howard Milstein and the Nicklaus Companies have teamed with both PGA REACH and the PGA of America to deliver a positive impact on the lives of today’s youth, our military veterans, and people of diversity through the game of golf,” said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. “Their commitment to help grow the game is so important to our mission.”

Additional highlights of the partnership include:
The creation of a $100,000 Jack Nicklaus PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) Grant will launch five new PGA HOPE programs. PGA HOPE introduces golf to military veterans in order to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.
A commitment by PGA REACH and Jack Nicklaus to explore the construction of a PGA HOPE Jack Nicklaus golf facility as a means to help in the care and rehabilitation of veterans.

The creation of a $120,000 Nicklaus PGA WORKS grant that will enable the addition of two PGA WORKS interns for two years in both the Northern and Southern Ohio PGA Sections. PGA WORKS provides internship opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to gain experience in all facets of the golf industry.

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, which was founded by Jack Nicklaus and is annually hosted by the Golden Bear and his family, will also support PGA REACH and its programs.

The PGA will explore the potential integration of Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues (JNLL) as one of its golf outreach programs, targeting various communities around the country and part of its Leagues programs. The JNLL was launched by Nicklaus with a goal to create programs at National Recreation and Park Association facilities that introduce the game to young players in a safe, fun and team-oriented environment.

Steph Curry Gains Respect for His Golf Game From Naysayers

By A.J. Jones

Steph Curry proved naysayers wrong when he shot a 74 on Thursday and Friday of the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic. Curry received a sponsor’s exemption in order to be able to compete. There were some people who believed that he may have taken a spot that someone who depends on golf to make a living may have needed. Others thought he would fail miserably.

The biggest story from Curry’s professional golf debut was the amount of new spectators who came to watch him play at TPC Stonebrae. There was no doubt that the majority of the gallery watching the tournament had never attended a professional golf event previously.

Always humble, Curry commented, “Unbelievable gallery out here. Hopefully that continues through the week. Just unbelievable opportunity to play out here with these guys.”

The winner of the tournament, Martin Piller, shot a 68 on Thursday, a 62 on Friday, a 68 on Saturday and a 64 on Sunday. Piller said that his putting was the key to his success. “With putting … it’s kind of contagious,” he said. “You see a couple go in and it snowballs in the right direction for you. I started putting well last week and it continued into this week.”

The tournament was a success for all involved. The players had a larger gallery watching them play, the Web.com tour received greater exposure, and the Ellie Mae Classic raised a considerable amount for the Warriors Foundation. Also, Curry proved that, if he were to ever want to leave professional basketball, he can be competitive in professional golf.