Thursday, February 11, 2016

Purdue will play host for Lady Puerto Rico Classic as college scene heats up

   The countdown to the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club is at 170 days on this brutally cold February Friday, which is all the more reason to keep an eye on the college women’s golf scene, since many of the top collegiate players will be headed for Springfield this summer.
   The team I have followed most closely since I started this blog is Purdue because Aurora Kan, a three-time Daily Times Player of the Year at Chichester, starred there for four years. The spring portion of the season always started for the Boilermakers with them playing host to the Lady Puerto Rico Classic and that will be the case this season as well.
   While we’re shivering with sub-zero wind chills Sunday, five of Golfweek’s top 20 teams in the country, including No. 20 Purdue, will tee off on the first day of the 54-hole Lady Puerto Rico Classic at the Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico as the college scene awakens after three-plus months in hibernation.
   Leading the 16-team field are No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Northwestern. Kent St. and Arkansas, ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, are also in the field.
   The rankings can be a little misleading, though, and nobody knows that better than Purdue. The Boilermakers were never able to crack the top 30 in the national rankings last season, but reached the final day of stroke play at the NCAA Tournament before coming up short of a spot among the eight teams that advanced to match play.
   Four of Kan’s teammates on that team had solid fall campaigns for the Boilermakers. Swede Anna Appert Lund inherited Kan’s role as the senior leader for Devon Brouse’s team. Purdue is still relatively young, though. The other three top returnees are junior August Kim of St. Augustine, Fla., sophomore Linn Andersson, like Appert Lund a Swede, and sophomore Marta Martin of Spain. Kim and Martin are probably the most talented of the Boilers, but the Swedes are both capable players who are battle-tested.
   Appert Lund’s tie for 10th at the Landfall Tradition that concluded the fall campaign for the Boilers, was the 15th top-10 finish of her career. Ida Ayu Indira Meluti Putri, a freshman from Bali, rounded out the five-women lineup at the Landfall. We’ll see beginning Sunday if there are any significant changes in the lineup.
   Georgia got a little bit of a headstart on some of the teams in the field at its Lady Bulldog Individual Championship last weekend. Freshman Rinka Mitsunaga of Roswell, Ga. captured the title in the one-day 36-hole event. The Bulldogs are also led by junior Harang Lee of Spain and freshman Bailey Tardy of Peachtree Corners, Ga.
   Northwestern is led by sophomore Hannah Kim, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year from Chula Vista, Calif. Kim finished second individually in the Lady Puerto Rico Classic a year ago, leading the Wildcats to a fourth-place finish.
   Also in the field are Texas Tech, ranked 26th by Golfweek, and No. 30 North Carolina St.
   As I mentioned in my last post, my Twitter handle has changed. I’ll throw a tweet on @Tmacgolf16 to alert you when I create a new post to the blog.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Blog is back with a big week for those 2009 Walker Cuppers

    While we were digging out from under two-plus feet of snow, it was a pretty good week for some of the members of Buddy Marucci’s winning United States team in the 2009 Walker Cup Match at Merion Golf Club’s East Course.
   The event itself was pretty exciting in 2009, but you just knew you would always follow some of the young stars, many of whom made the Walker Cup their amateur swan song before embarking on their professional careers.
   The biggest weekend for an alum of that U.S. team is obvious. Rickie Fowler outdueled a strong field to win in Abu Dhabi and rise to No. 4 in the World Ranking. More on that later.
    In another desert half a world away, though, three of Fowler’s teammates at Merion had solid top-15 finishes in the CareerBuilder Challenge in Palm Springs, Calif., an event that once was known simply as the Bob Hope Classic and for many years was a  90-hole shootout.
   Brian Harman, the little left-hander from Georgia, finished in a tie for 11th with rounds of 67, 66, 72 and 65 for an 18-under 270 total. Harman, No. 97 in the World Ranking, has won nearly $6.5 million on the PGA Tour and owns a victory in the 2014 John Deere Classic.
   Harman finished a shot ahead of two of his Walker Cup teammates. Cameron Tringale, who had rounds of 69, 68, 67 and 67, and Bud Cauley, who had rounds of 72, 65, 66 and 68, finished in a tie for 14th at 17-under 271.
   Tringale is really starting to come into his own in golf’s big league. He won $1.8 million last season and is off to a fast start in the wraparound 2015-16 season with a tie for second in the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas and a tie for fifth in the unofficial Franklin Templeton Shootout. He has his World Ranking all the way up to No. 73.
   I saw a little more of Tringale that Walker Cup week in 2009 because I had a feeling I might be able to catch up with his Georgia Tech teammate, Adam Cohan, the 2002 PIAA champion as a junior at Radnor. And indeed I did.
   A Google search of Cohan’s name late last year yielded the troubling news that he had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2012. He seemed to be on the road to recovery in September of 2014 when the inaugural Cohan Cup was played at the Atlanta Athletic Club to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Cohan reached out to some of his old Georgia Tech teammates to help support the event and Tringale, not surprisingly, was among those who answered the call.
   Cauley’s showing in the CareerBuilder might very well be a career builder. The $104,000 the Alabama product earned was much needed. Cauley missed the 2014-15 season after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum Sept. 12, 2014, five years to the day from the first day of the 2009 Walker Cup.
   He is playing on a medical exemption and needs to make more than $500 grand in 15 starts to regain his  full-time status on the PGA Tour. He got into the CareerBuilder off the alternate list at the last minute and made the most of the opportunity.
    Fowler has often been criticized as being all flash and no substance, but nobody who saw him at Merion in 2009 thought that way. When you watch a team, especially a winning one, up close, it’s easy to figure out who the leader is and Fowler, at age 20, was the unquestioned leader of that U.S. team. He put his pro aspirations on hold for several months to honor his commitment to Marucci, who was wrapping up his second stint as U.S. team captain on his home course.
   Fowler stared down the No. 1 (Jordan Spieth) and No. 2 (Rory McIlroy) players in the world to win at Abu Dhabi last week. McIlroy finished in a tie for third and Spieth in a tie for fifth.
   The year dawned with many golf observers looking forward to the competition among the Big Three of Spieth, McIlroy and Jason Day. Many of those same observers were updating that Big Three to a Fab Four after Fowler’s performance last week.
   Fowler made a brilliant comeback to win The Players last year and he had top-5 finishes in all four majors in 2014. He appears poised to become the elite player many of us who watched him at Merion in 2009 were certain he would become.
   One other name of note at the CareerBuilder was a tie for 28th for Sean O’Hair, an adopted son of Delco since marrying into the Lucas family of Aston. O’Hair had rounds of 70, 67, 68 and 69 for a 14-under 274 total.
   After having to play his way through the playoffs to retain his PGA Tour privileges for last season, O’Hair, winner of more than $19 million in his career, returned to form, fighting his way into the playoffs and reaching the second week.
   He wrapped up his bounceback 2015 with a tie for seventh in the unofficial Franklin Templeton Shootout and he has made the cut at the Sony Open and the CareerBuilder since the calendar turned to 2016.
   This is my first blog post since my “separation” from the Daily Times. It took a couple of weeks to reload technologically. Since I’m hardly a tech whiz, I was unable to figure out how to get my original Twitter handle back when I was loading Twitter on to my new phone. The new Twitter handle is @Tmacgolf16 and I will continue to alert you there when there’s a new post.
   The email address some of you used to contact me at was a work email, so I’ve been using a personal account that’s been active since the days when Chase Utley was good, thus Feel free to pass on any golf news you hear.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hopefully, the next chapter still includes this blog

   I’ve reached out to a few of my golf contacts in the last month to let them know my byline will no longer be appearing in the Daily Times, at least not as a full-time staff member.
   I am hoping to keep T Mac Tees Off going. I’ve been in touch with some of the local golf websites and I’m hoping to maybe link to the golf blog off their websites. We’ll see how that goes.
   One thing that greatly disappoints me is not getting to chronicle the exploits of this talented group of Class of 2019 and Class of 2020 boys that are just starting to make their mark in the pages of the Daily Times. But I am hoping to keep tabs on Kevin Smith, Case Hummer, Jake Calamaro, Peter Garno, John Updike, Andrew Curran, Michael and Jacob Zeng, Matt Civitella, David Colleran, Blake Stephano, Joseph Morganti -- did I forget anybody, very likey yes – with posts on this blog.
   At least I did get a chance to watch Brynn Walker close out her incredible scholastic career by winning a second straight PIAA Class AAA girls individual title and leading Radnor to the PIAA Class AAA boys team title.
   And well, I have to keep an eye on that U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball in the spring at Streamsong in Florida when Walker and her pal Madelein Herr, the District One champion from Council Rock North, make another run in an event in which they nearly stole the show in reaching the semifinals last year at Bandon Dunes. And I’m on that record as saying the pair of Michael McDermott and Jeff Osberg have a chance to make some noise that same week in May in the men’s Four-Ball at Winged Foot.
   And it’s only 205 days until the U.S. Women’s Amateur tees off at Rolling Green. You get the picture. There’s a lot going on in golf this year, which is a very good reason to keep this blog going.
   When I was first asked to do a golf blog, I wasn’t sure there would be enough content to make it worthwhile. Turned out that was never a problem.