Raintree Country Club
First-Round News & Notes
September 14, 2012
Hanna and Sweeney Take First-Round Lead at Symetra Classic
Meet the Symetra Classic Leaders
Finish it Off
Beware of the Injured Golfer
Exempts in Action
Reunited at Last
A Rockin’ Good Time
Putting on a Clinic
With the 2012 Symetra Tour season coming to a close and with three events left, every round counts.
Allison Hanna (@Allison_Hanna) and Jaclyn Sweeney (@JaclynSweeney22) made the most out of their first-rounds on Friday at the Symetra Classic and both carded 6-under 66 to take a one-shot leader over Nicole Smith (@NicoleSmithGolf).
Hanna started her day on the back nine and carded four birdies and a bogey on her first nine holes and followed it up with a bogey-free front nine with three birdies on Nos. 5, 7 and 9. Sweeney, who is currently ranked No. 9 in the Volvik Race for the Card put together a bogey-free round with three birdies on both the front and back nine. No. 10 Nicole Smith trails the duo by one shot after finishing at 5-under and carded nine birdies on the day, including three on her last four holes.
Allison Hanna (-6): The eight-year pro has had LPGA Tour status since 2005 and has played off and on the Symetra Tour since her rookie year in 2004. She’s currently ranked No. 43 in the Volvik Race for the Card and a top finish this week in Charlotte would push her towards the front of the pack for the remaining two events to regain full status on the LPGA Tour next season. A native of Portland, Ore., Hanna has one Symetra Tour victory and won in 2009 at the Texas Hill Country Classic in San Antonio, Texas. The Ohio State University alum has two top-10 and four top-20 finishes in nine starts this season and had back-to-back season-best finishes T8 at the Island Resort Championship and the Northeast Delta Dental International.
Jaclyn Sweeney (-6): The third year pro, who is currently ranked No. 9 in the Volvik Race for the Card, is looking for her second win of the season and to improve her spot in the Race with three events remaining on the 2012 schedule. Sweeney, a Bradenton, Fla. native, has been in the top-10 for four weeks and debuted at No. 4 after her first-career victory at the Credit Union Challenge in Albany, NY. The Arizona State alum has four top-10 and five top-20 finishes in 12 starts this year. She’s playing to regain her LPGA Tour card and was a member last season, making eight starts with season-best T53 finish at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
Decisions, Decisions…On the outside looking in, playing well in each tournament on the Symetra Tour should make life a little bit easier but in the case of co-leader Allison Hanna, having a top finish this week might put her in a difficult situation. Hanna, a current member on the LPGA Tour, is in the final field for next week’s LPGA Navistar Classic in Prattville, Ala. She’s currently ranked No. 43 in the Volvik Race for the Card and with a win or high finish in Charlotte, could put her right in the mix of the Race for the 10 exempt cards that will be awarded at the end of the season in two weeks.
“I’m kind of in the dilemma of whether to go to the Navistar LPGA event or if I was to finish top three or win here this week and how to handle that,” said Hanna.
The eight-year pro has had status on the LPGA Tour since 2005 and is looking to regain her full card this year. After a strong opening-round 6-under 66 on Friday, she looks ready to make a run at a good finish this week and the last two events to follow. She hopes to stick to her initial instincts on her decisions on where to play out the rest of the year.
“I think you just have to trust your gut,” said Hanna. “If you don’t want to go somewhere and you do it because everyone else tells you to, then you probably won’t play well.”
Hanna’s seven birdie, one bogey effort on Friday came from close approach shots and not over analyzing her scorecard.
“I just played pretty solid,” said Hanna. “I made most of my putts when I hit close and seemed like I was burning the edges all day. I made one long putt but other than that I was steady and had tap ins for par. I think my most challenging par was on the second to last hole where I had an eight footer and made that. I was trying to not think too much about scores and just see how low I could go. Sometimes I’ll make a lot of birdies and then put on the brakes.”
Hanna said she managed a few tricky holes down the stretch that did not particularly suit her game and walked away from them with some added confidence.
“There are a couple of tee shots that you have to cut,” said Hanna. “And there’s nothing else you can do. I don’t hit it high enough over the trees so that’s challenging for me because I draw the ball. I got a good feel and hit a couple nice cuts and was in the fairway on those holes which are some of the challenging ones. The greens are pretty big and it comes down to a putting contest.”
“I looked at the scores in the morning and thought scoring was wrong because it only said 2-under and I thought somebody had to be going a lot lower than 2-under. I saw the scoreboard when I went to go to one tee and saw 4-under was leading so I put myself at four down to the golf course and tried to see if I could just work my way up from there.”
Sweeney, currently No. 9 on the Volvik Race for the Card standings, got off to a shaky start early in her round with arrant drives on the first five holes that included a snap hook on the second.
“I wasn’t driving the ball particularly well the first five holes,” said Sweeney. “I hit a few snap hooks but luckily I got a good break on two. It hit the trees and came back into play, it looked like I hit a seven iron off the tee but I hit a driver. From there I just stayed really patient.”
Despite the poor start, Sweeney remained patient and hit 17 greens and recorded six birdies en route to carding her lowest round this season.
“It was a solid round,” Sweeney said. “I hit 17 greens and I made a lot of putts from 18-feet. I actually missed two putts from 3-feet for birdie. I hit the ball well, I stayed really calm, I think this is my low round of the year and I had that in the back of my head.”
Since her first Symetra Tour victory at this year’s Credit Union Classic, Sweeney has struggled on her last hole. Friday proved to be no different as she left herself a tricky one-foot breaking putt for par.
“I have had a little bit of jitters closing out a round in the last few tournaments,” Sweeney said. “Since my win in Albany I’ve bogeyed the last hole. Standing over that one-footer, I was like if I miss this my putter is not going to be in a good place.”
Beware of the Injured Golfer… The old adage, “beware of the injured golfer” is proving to be true for third year Symetra Tour member Nicole Smith. With only three tournaments remaining on this year’s rigorous Symetra Tour schedule, a labral tear in her left shoulder, which occurred in college, has recently start to flare up again.
“It doesn’t take much for your body to get out of sync and I think it just upset it,” Smith said. “Repetition kind of kills you. You could probably ask half the girls on tour and they’re fighting something.”
Smith utilized the two week break between the Challenge at Musket Ridge and this week’s Symetra Classic to focus on rehabbing her injured shoulder.
“My shoulder was hurting me pretty bad the last few events and I went home and took a lot of time and I rehabbed it and got going really well,” Smith said. “I hid it for a while. I practiced three days in two weeks. I literally just focused on working on my shoulder and making sure I’d be strong enough to be able to come out and play.”
Coming into this week’s Symetra Classic, Smith, who is currently ranked No. 7 on the Volvik Race for the Card standings, was doubtful if she would even play in Charlotte, N.C.
“I prayed every night this week that I’d be able to tee it up on Friday,” said Smith. “And I said ‘just get me off the first hole, get me off the second hole, just get me going.’”
Smith’s injury makes her first-round 5-under par 67 at the Symetra Classic all the more impressive. Smith, who currently leads the Symetra Tour in birdies, carded eight birdies and three bogeys to find herself one-stroke behind current leader Allison Hanna heading into tomorrow’s final round.
“I’m still in it,” Smith said after her round. “I want to be strong and finish my last three weeks then deal with anything else that happens. It’s all up here (points to her head). If I can get my body to do what I know it needs to do and rely on everything I’ve done this year and know that you’ve done this a million times. You have to make it happen. I’ve worked too hard this year to let anything happen. So if I can just manage anything that comes up, just focus on the good.”
Volvik Check-In…Players in the Volvik Race for the Card top-10 who were in action on Friday were found all over the leaderboard after 18 holes of play. Sweeney led the group of card contenders on Friday with her 6-under 66 performance and is trailed by No. 10 Nicole Smith by one stroke. Results for the remaining top-10 are as follows: No. 4 Julia Boland: T10 (1-under 71); No. 6 Sara Brown (@SaraBrownGolf) & No. 7 Jenny Gleason: T68 (2-over 74); No. 2 Paola Moreno, No. 3 Victoria Elizabeth (@vegolf) & No. 5 Jenny Suh (@jenny_suh): T82 (3-over 75).
Exempts in Action…Both tournament exemptions held their own on in Friday’s first round. Rinko Mitsunaga (@rinkofowler) and Cheyenne Woods (@Cheyenne_Woods) shot even-par 72 and sit six shots off the lead at T33. Mitsunaga, a sixteen-year old native of Roswell, Ga., native had three birdies and one bogey on the front nine and three bogeys and one birdie on the back. Woods opened with a bogey on No. 1 and posted birdies on Nos. 4 and 7. She bogeyed the par 4 11th and doubled No. 13 to drop to 2-over with five holes to play. But she recovered and finished with back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 to end even-par.
Reunited at Last… Hannah Jun fired an opening round 3-under par 69 at today’s Symetra Classic and had a familiar face in the gallery cheering her on, boyfriend and starting Carolina Panthers kicker, Justin Medlock.
Jun and Medlock’s relationship began so long ago that when asked how long they had been together, Jun could not even begin to recollect a date. The duo however, both attended University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) where Jun was a member of the golf team and Medlock was a member of the football team.
Medlock rushed over to Raintree Country Club after morning practice to watch Jun on her final holes. With the Symetra Tour traveling to 16 different tournament sites and the Panthers gearing up for regular season games, the pair do not get to see each other as often as they would like. With this week’s Symetra Classic taking place in Charlotte, N.C., Jun admitted it was nice to see a familiar face in Medlock.
“It’s nice,” Jun said. “It’s a familiar face as we go to so many different places so it’s really nice.”
A Rockin’ Good Time… Thursday night at the ymetra Classic combined rock n’ roll and putting for the inaugural Rock the Putt competition. For the first time at a professional golf event, local celebrities and professionals took part in the putting contest that was backed by live rock music performed by Hot Sauce.
Eight Symetra Pros including Mesha Levister (@Meshylev), Allison Duncan, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Selanee Henderson (@SelaneeGolf), Juliana Murcia Ortiz (@julianmurciao), Jessi Gebhardt (@JesGebPr0), Maria Elvira, Melissa Eaton-Jackson (@MEJ_golf) and eight Raintree Country Club members went head-to-head in a “Sweet 16” style, three challenge, low-total elimination format.
Raintree Country Club President, Larry Whitmore faced Mesha Levister in the finals but Whitmore sank a 40-foot putt to take home the title. Whitmore generously shared his $500 cash prize with the remaining three Symetra Tour pros that were left standing. Levister took home $300 and Betham and Duncan each took home $100.
Putting on a Clinic…The Symetra Classic hosted several events for the Charlotte community to get involved in and Thursday posed as an afternoon for several groups to improve their golf games and receive world-class instruction. Current LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals National President Dana Rader was onsite at Raintree Country Club on to host a Daddy/Daughter clinic specifically for groups of dads and their daughters spend time together while sharpening their swings. Rader, who established her own golf school nearby in Charlotte, was recently voted the No. 3 teacher in Golf Digest’s Women’s America’s 50 Best Women Teachers rankings. She and several Symetra Tour pros provided instruction and tips to over 25 dads and 30 daughters ranging from ages three to 30.
Symetra Tour professionals Sara Hurwitch (@smhgolf), Kendall Dye (@Kendall_Dye) and Briana Vega (@BriVega) ran a separate clinic for participants of the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf of Charlotte. The players opened up with a Q&A session where the girls asked a variety of questions. They then worked on their short games, fine-tuning their chipping strokes and taking shots at the Tour’s blow-up Golfzilla target. Dye was impressed when one member hit it right in the mouth target which she said she’s never seen before. A group of about 25 participants were on hand Thursday while several made their way back on Friday as spectators for the first round of tournament play.