Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Country Club of Jackson to host LPGA's Legends Tour Aug. 12-13

The Indianwood Golf & Country Club isn't the only Michigan course hosting some legends of golf this summer.

The Legends Tour, the LPGA’s official tour for professionals age 45 and over, will visit the Country Club of Jackson for the sixth annual Wendy’s Charity Challenge presented by Aveeno on Aug. 12-13.

Hosted by Michigan native and Legends Tour President Elaine Crosby, the event will feature a purse of $100,000 and will once again bring LPGA legends to the Great Lakes State. Scheduled to play are Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Rosie Jones, Jan Stephenson and others.

“I played collegiate golf tournaments in Michigan and I traveled with the LPGA Tour for many years to our event in East Lansing, so it will be good to return there with the Legends Tour in August,” said Lopez, a 48-time LPGA tournament winner.

One of eight tournaments on the Legends Tour, this year’s event will feature a Sunday professional tournament with 25 Legends players, followed by a Monday pro-am presented by Coca-Cola that will pair 25 Legends pros with 100 amateurs.

“Our sponsors who participate in the pro-am look forward to coming back each year to play with an LPGA Legend,” said Mark Behm, president of Stanton & Associates, Inc., which own and operate more than 60 Wendy’s restaurants in Michigan. “This is our 12th year hosting a pro-am, so many of our supporters have actually formed friendships with the pros and it’s great to see everyone come together to help the kids. We’re proud of our relationship and tradition with these great Legends of the game.”

The Wendy’s Charity Challenge tournament has raised more than $1.65 million for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption since 1999. Tickets are $10 each day, with kids 17 and under admitted free. All military personnel are also admitted free with a current ID. Advance tickets also may be purchased by visiting www.thelegendstour.com/tickets .

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Michiganders winning top tournaments

It's been an interesting summer for a handful of Michigan golfers.

Let's take a closer look at who's playing well:

MICHIGAN WOMEN'S AMATEUR CHAMP: I met this girl when she was a freshman in high school. I knew then she was a special player. Brighton's Emmie Pietila, who will play at the University of Tennessee this fall, won the 96th Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship after defeating Natalie Brehm of Mount Pleasant, 2&1 in the final match-play round at Forest Akers West. Pietila, 18, has been playing in Golf Association of Michigan tournaments since she was 15 years old and almost did not register for this year’s Women’s Amateur because she was going to try and qualify for the Junior PGA Championship in Kentucky.“This was closer and just easier logistically so that is why I ended up registering for this tournament versus the junior qualifier,” said Pietila. “I’m really glad I made that decision.” Both girls come from great golf families.

WEB.COM CHAMP: Doug LaBelle II, also a native of Mount Pleasantwho now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., beat Michael Putnam to capture his second Web.com Tour victory (the first since 2006). LaBelle has bounced back and forth between the PGA Tour and former Nationwide Tour. This $99,000 check moves him among the top 25 money earners on the minor-league tour and has him on track to earn another promotion to the PGA Tour in 2013. LaBelle shot 3-under-par 68 for a one-shot victory at Willow Creek Country Club, setting a Utah Championship record by erasing a five-shot deficit in the final round.

MICHIGAN SENIOR CHAMP: Ron Beurmann shot an impressive 6-under 66 by hitting 17 of 18 greens at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek for a three-shot victory over Bob Ackerman at the Club Car Michigan Senior Open. Beurmann is director of golf at the Country Club of Jackon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Indianwood Golf & Country Club ready for the 2012 U.S. Senior Open

The old guys are ready.

And so is the course.

It should be a great weekend at the 2012 U.S. Senior Open, set to tee it up tomorrow through Sunday on the Old course at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich. Golf fans better get out and support the event. If they don't, it sends a message to the United States Golf Association (which runs the Senior Open), the PGA of America and the PGA Tour that southeast Michigan is apathetic to golf. That attitude won't help Oakland Hills Country Club in its bid to host a future major championship. The next major golf event scheduled in Michigan is the 2016 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills, the likeliest precursor to landing a coveted U.S. Open. No top tournament will come to metro Detroit before it - or after - without a show of support, much like Northern Ireland and Ireland gave for the Irish Open a few weeks ago in its bid to potentially host a British Open.

With or without massive fan support, the show must go on at Indianwood. Let's hope it's a better tournament than the last senior major in Michigan. The 2012 Senior PGA Championship at the Golf Club of Harbor Shores in June showed off another of Michigan's gems of a golf course, but a runaway victory by a little known foreigner, Roger Chapman, didn't do much for TV ratings or buzz in golf circles. If Tom Watson or Fred Couples can get in contention, now that's a different story. They are the two biggest names in town but certainly not the only worthy champions. I wouldn't mind seeing Tom Lehman or Hale Irwin make a charge.

The 6,862-yard, par-70 course should be playing firm and difficult with thick rough and narrow fairways. I'm not in town covering the event unfortunately, but I'll be keeping a close eye on it. Tickets are still available. ESPN2 will televise the first two rounds from 3-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday with NBC taking over the weekend, running from 3-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Michigan Women's Open, Island Resort Championship highlight big week for women's golf in Michigan

For 10 days, the women stole the spotlight of Michigan's golf scene.

Perfect timing, too, because the U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood Golf & Country Club is right around the corner.

Last Wednesday, Katie Burnett used the Michigan Women's Open as her professional debut to prepare for this week's U.S. Women's Open at the American Club in Kohler, Wis.
Crystal Mountain Resort's Mountain Ridge was kind to the 22-year-old from Brunswick, Ga., who recently graduated from South Carolina. She shot a final round 3-under-par 69 for a record-setting 11-under-par 205 total and resounding 10-shot win. It was an impressive show in the 10th anniversary of Crystal Mountain hosting the event (in 19 years).

“I feel pretty awesome right now,” she told tournament PR man Greg Johnson. “I don’t know if I can describe it. It hasn’t quite hit me yet. It gives me a lot of confidence. It was goal of mine to come out and get the confidence and momentum going into the U.S. Open.”

Her 205 was the lowest in tournament history, besting a 10-under performance by 2007 winner Lisa Fernandes. Runner-up Laura Bavaird of Grosse Ile was the only other golfer under par in the 54-hole $36,000 event. Bavaird closed with a 1-over-par 73 for 1-under-par 215, and then headed to Harris, Mich., in the Upper Peninsula for the Symetra Tour's Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club at the Island Resort and Casino. She didn't fare so well there against a tougher, more international field, tying for 46th.

Leah Wigger of Louisville, Ky., shot 73-66-70 to finish at 209 to earn $16,500 of the $110,000 prize money. She won by three shots over three players on the 6,286-yard Sweetgrass to cap off the biggest 10 days of the summer for the women.