On Grand Strand Golf: History says it’s Johnson’s time to shine

ablondin@thesunnews.comAugust 20, 2012 

If recent history is any indication, this is Dustin Johnson’s time to shine.

The Barclays tournament being played Thursday through Sunday marks the start of the PGA Tour’s four-event FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Johnson has won one of the first three playoff events in each of the past two years to enter the playoff-ending Tour Championship second in FedEx Cup points both years, resulting in top-five points finishes and bonuses of $1 million or more.

“I like the playoffs. It’s the time of year where you’ve got to play good,” Johnson said. “It’s like all the other sports: you’ve got to play well if you want to keep moving up to get to the championship.”

The Barclays is being held on the Bethpage State Park Black Course on Long Island. Johnson’s win in the Barclays last year came at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J., in a tournament shortened to 54 holes by Hurricane Irene.

“I’m always happy to defend any title,” Johnson said. “Barclays is a little bit different just because it’s at a different venue. We are not playing the same course, but it’s still The Barclays tournament and it’s a playoff event.”

The Coastal Carolina alum and former Myrtle Beach resident tied for 40th at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage. The course is predicted to play firm and fast this week after it was inundated by rain during the ’09 Open, which required a Monday finish.

The Barclays will be followed by next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston and the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana, which Johnson won in 2010 when the event was played at Cog Hill near Chicago.

“Last year [The Barclays] course was in Plainfield, N.J., that was the first time playing there. So I don’t mind playing new courses,” Johnson said. “Some of the guys have probably played Crooked Stick, but not very many have. So we are all playing a new course.”

The FedEx Cup champion will be crowned and awarded a $10 million bonus at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta from Sept. 20-23 following an off week.

“It’s a nice purse. You know, I don’t know anyone that could argue that they couldn’t use that money,” Johnson said. “That’s one thing that’s really cool about it, and being the FedEx Cup champion, that’s something that only very few people have. And, you know, I’d like to be one.”

Johnson, 28, has six PGA Tour wins, the most by any player currently in his 20s, and is the first player since Tiger Woods to record a victory in each of his first five seasons on tour.

Two of his wins have come in the first five weeks of the season at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and three have come late in the year – the two playoff events and the Turning Stone Resort Championship in October of his rookie year of 2008.

Johnson’s first mid-season win came in June’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, which was just his second tournament after returning from a nearly three-month layoff necessitated by a back injury.

Johnson has four additional top 10s in 15 starts this year and is 26th in FedEx Cup points entering the playoffs.

Johnson tied for 48th in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort on Aug. 12 and didn’t play in the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., which concluded Monday. He said he spent the early part of last week taking a boat to the Bahamas and went fishing, spearfishing and free diving.

“I feel good going into the playoffs,” Johnson said. “I’ve got a few things to work on but I feel like my game is really close to being really good.”

Johnson has just two events remaining to impress 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Team captain Davis Love III, who will make four captain’s picks on Sept. 4 for the team that will face the best European players Sept. 28-30 at Medinah Country Club.

Johnson is competing for one of the four spots primarily with Hunter Mahan, who has two wins this year; Jim Furyk, who has played on 14 combined U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams; Steve Stricker, a 12-time winner who has played on a combined six Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams; reigning FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas; Rickie Fowler, who was impressive in his Ryder Cup appearance in 2010; Bo Van Pelt and Brandt Snedeker.

“I’ve just got to play golf and everything else will take care of itself,” Johnson said of his Ryder Cup aspirations.

Johnson will host a clinic for more than 225 New York area youth from four youth organizations at 1 p.m. Tuesday on the Bethpage driving range.

The state’s best

Mike Buccerone, a partner in East Coast Golf Management, was selected Thursday by the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association Board of Directors as the 2012 S.C. Golf Employee of the Year.

Buccerone was up for the award as the 2012 Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association Employee of the Year.

The Dunes Golf and Beach Club was the Grand Strand candidate for the 2012 S.C. Course of the year, but had the misfortune of being up against Kiawah Island Club’s Ocean Course, which hosted the PGA Championship two weeks ago and earned the state honor.

East Coast was formed late last year and has management or marketing agreements with 10 Grand Strand courses.

Buccerone has been a pro and/or executive at Wild Wing Plantation and Grande Dunes Golf Course. Je was at Grande Dunes when its Resort Course was named the golf course owners’ national course of the year in 2009.

BMW aids community

The 12th annual BMW Charity Pro-Am, presented by Synnex Corporation and held at three Greenville area courses in May, raised $634,571 for 27 Upstate charities.

Since 2001, the tournament has raised more than $9.25 million for more than 150 charities and is a leading charity event on the Web.com Tour. It is operated by the non-profit South Carolina Charities, Inc.

Amateur Brian Todd and professional partner Fabian Gomez won the Pro-Am/Pro-Celebrity portion of the tournament and donated their $1,000 winnings to the National Christian College Athletic Association. Actor Andy Buckley was the highest finishing celebrity and donated his earnings to The First Tee Greenville.

Organizers say tournament attendance was 50,500, up 4,500 from last year.

Duo takes second

Sammy Truett of Surfside Beach and partner Bert Atkinson of Charleston finished second Saturday in the South Carolina Mid Amateur Four Ball Championship at the 6,831-yard Orangeburg Country Club.

They shot an 8-under-par 64 in the first round, as Truett contributed eight birdies, and finished a shot behind winners Matt Faulkner of Greenville and Josh Ridley of Lexington. Sunday’s scheduled final round was canceled because of rain.

The South Carolina Golf Association event featured 64 two-person teams playing a best ball format, with each player 30 or older.

Ladies at DeBordieu

DeBordieu Club will host the 2012 Women’s South Carolina Amateur from Sept. 18-20. The event is run by the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association.

The women will play a championship course between 5,700 and 5,750 yards, and a secondary division will play approximately 5,100 yards.

Last year’s winner, Cecilia Fournil of Columbia, is not defending because of family reasons, but other previous winners participating include three-time winner Dawn Woodard of Greer; two-time winners Lea Anne Brown of Charleston, Karen Ferree of Hilton Head and Lea Venable of Simpsonville, and Karin Wolfe of Lexington.

Registration for the event closes on Sept. 1 with online registration at www.WSCGA.org.

Patriot events upcoming

The Dennis Walters Golf Show is scheduled for 9:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Tidewater Golf & Plantation driving range as part of a weekend of activities culminating with the Tidewater Patriot Golf Day Charity Tournament Sept. 3, which has been sold out for weeks.

Walter, who was paralyzed from the waist down in an accident in 1974, provides trick shots and entertainment with his dog, Bucky. The show is free and open to the public.

The Tidewater Charity Tournament Committee has had a busy year. It has been involved in the donation of a motorized wheelchair and customized van by a local family to an injured U.S. Marine from North Carolina, two local students receiving college scholarships from the Folds of Honor Foundation, an increase in sponsorships, and an early sellout of the tournament.

To view Blondin’s blog, Green Reading, go to MyrtleBeachOnline.com.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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