Golf

Field is set for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Club

A four-sided clock clock sits in front of the clubhouse at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club.
A four-sided clock clock sits in front of the clubhouse at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club. For The Sun News

The field for the third annual U.S. Women’s Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club from May 27-31 is set, and it will feature the defending champions and players from the ages of 12 to 70.

The tournament has been dominated by junior golfers, as each of the first two winning teams were comprised of high school students.

Both the 2016 champions and runners-up are in the field.

Texas high school teens Hailee Cooper of Montgomery and Kaitlyn Papp of Austin, who are now ages 17 and 18, outlasted then 13-year-old Californians Brianna Navarrosa and Angelina Kim in 19 holes at Streamsong Blue in Florida.

The first Women’s Four-Ball at Bandon Dunes in Oregon was won by teenagers Mika Liu and Rinko Mitsunaga.

Alexandra Austin and Lauren Greenlief, semifinalists from 2016, are also entered this year.

Just one player from South Carolina is among the 128 participants.

Nichols native Dawn Woodard, who won a state championship in basketball at Mullins High in 1992 before playing golf at Furman, is paired with four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 38, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The duo reached the quarterfinals in 2015.

Woodard, a Greenville resident, is a six-time winner of the South Carolina Women’s Stroke Play Championship who has also won the S.C. Women’s Match Play Championship five times and Carolinas Women’s Match Play Championship three times.

“To say that I’m excited to be here and to have qualified for this championship is a little bit of an understatement,” said Woodard, who regularly played on the Grand Strand growing up. “This is home. I really don’t think the USGA is bringing a championship to Nichols, South Carolina, so this is as close to home as it gets for me.”

Woodard plans to have her husband and three teenage children in attendance, some possibly caddying. “This tournament is almost like things are coming full circle,” Woodard said. “I spent so many days as a junior down by the beach, playing and practicing, kind of learning how to compete before going to college. It all started right here.”

Players from the Carolinas have won every USGA event with the exception of the Women’s Four Ball. There are seven players entered from North Carolina, including 19-year-old twins Jessica and Sarah Spicer of Bahama, who comprise one of two sister teams. There is also a mother-daughter team of Kay Daniel, 46, and Abbey Daniel, 16, of Covington, La.

The championship begins three days after the completion of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship and is largely void of college-age players. There are a lot of juniors as well as mid-am and senior players.

Isabell Pellot, 12, of Apopka, Fla., is the youngest in the field by 10 months, while Katie Falk, 70, of Milwaukee, Wis., is the oldest in the field by four years.

In addition to the defending champs, four other USGA champions are entered in U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur titlists Diane Lang of Weston, Fla., and Sherry Herman of Middletown, N.J., and U.S. Women’s Mid-Am winners Stasi and Greenlief, 26, of Oakton, Va.

The USGA accepted 335 entries and qualifying was held from August through last week. There are 25 states, Puerto Rico and seven countries represented in the final field: the U.S., Philippines, Canada, Colombia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The 64 teams will play 36 holes of best ball stroke play qualifying before the field is cut to the low 32 teams for match play, and the winning team will have to win five matches over three days for the title.

The Dunes Club will be set up at approximately 6,300 yards for the tournament. Spectator admission is free.

Rachel Sadowski, the USGA’s director of both the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball and Women’s Mid-Amateur championships, said the USGA has twice oversold its allotment of hotel rooms at the host hotel, the Myrtle Beach Marriott, though players will be staying elsewhere as well.

The tournament begins the Saturday before Memorial Day, so players will be arriving and traveling to the course during the height of the Atlantic Beach Bike Fest. A bridge near the course on U.S. 17 is also closed, but organizers don’t believe traffic will be a major problem for players.

“That was a huge factor in choosing the hotel we did, which is a mile from door to door, and the club is providing transportation door to door,” said Sadowski, a native of England who played at Coastal Carolina from 2004-08 under her maiden name Rachel Graves.

“We put the host hotel close by and encouraged players to make their arrangements as early as possible because of other events in the area.”

Organizers are are still seeking more than 30 volunteers, as a total of about 200 are wanted. Volunteers can register through the Golf tab at www.thedunesclub.net.

Lundy settles schedule

Patrick Lundy of Little River plans to split time between three tours this year while also entering a number of qualifiers prior to events on the Web.com and PGA tours.

He plans to play primarily on the Adams Tour in the Southwest, while also playing in tournaments on the GPro Tour based in North Carolina and Coastal Players Tour with tournaments from Raleigh, N.C., to Myrtle Beach.

Adams Tour events are $985 for members and have listed purses of at least $100,000. The first four events thus far this season have featured well over 100 players each and purses have reached nearly $170,000. The tour has complimentary host housing at most venues that often includes meals, and pays members for pro-am participation.

Lundy tied for 24th in his lone 72-hole Adams Tour event from April 5-8 to earn nearly $1,500, and tied for 15th in an 84-player GPro Tour event to earn more than $1,300 before missing a cut last week with rounds of 74 and 73. He finished third Sunday in a 25-player Coastal Players Tour event at the Country Club of South Carolina to earn $1,000.

Since beginning to work with instructor Brad Redding of the International Club of Myrtle Beach, Lundy said he has made 16 of his past 18 cuts and won three tournaments, and in his last 66 tournament rounds he has shot over par just five times.

“I really feel my game is where it needs to be to take it to the next level,” Lundy said. “I’m playing the best golf of my life and I feel I’m going to turn it around.”

Lundy, 26, who played in a few Asian and Asian Development Tour events last year, hopes his schedule prepares him to be in the same position at the end of 2017 that he was in late in 2016.

Lundy was in the top five through three rounds at the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Second Stage site of Plantation Preserve Golf Course & Club in Plantation, Fla. The top 18 places and ties qualified for the final stage, which guarantees at least conditional status on the Web.com Tour.

He had carded rounds of 67, 69 and 70 to sit at 7-under par. But he posted a 78 in the final round and dropped all the way into a tie for 36th at even par.

“I blew it the last day,” Lundy said. “I knew I was ready for the next level and I knew I was one round away from it, and the pressure got to me. That’s the bottom line. I choked.”

Lundy played the final three rounds with a flu and high temperature, and he also was unable to sleep and threw up prior to the final round, which was at least partially attributable to the anxiety he felt about the round and his pending opportunity.

“Pressure mounts in Q-school because you’re trying to change your life,” Lundy said. “I don’t think you really ever see that pressure in any other sport. I learned a lot about myself that week. My game was good. I was ready. A combination of [illness] and the anxiety led to a 78.”

Lundy took three to four months away from the game and worked with sports psychologist Val Martin at Grande Dunes. “I’ve learned a ton from it and I’m ready to go,” Lundy said.

Lundy has some sponsors in Dycom Industries, which is a telecommunications company, Miyabi Japanese Steakhouse and Nightingale Travel Nursing of Florence.

Best in state

The Grand Strand boasts nine of the 15 courses included in Golfweek’s 2017 list of the best courses in South Carolina that are open to the public.

The magazine released its state-by-state lists as selected by Golfweek’s national course raters in its April 10 edition.

In South Carolina, The Dunes Golf and Beach Club is No. 3, followed by Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (5), True Blue Golf Club (6), Legends Resort’s Moorland Course (9), Tidewater Plantation & Golf (10), TPC Myrtle Beach (12), Myrtle Beach National’s King’s North Course (13), Heritage Club (14) and Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club (15).

Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course and Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island – which have hosted either majors or PGA Tour events – are ranked Nos. 1 and 2.

Three Brunswick County courses made the state list in North Carolina, as Bald Head Island Club is No. 8, Leopard’s Chase at Ocean Ridge Plantation is No. 11 and Cape Fear National is No. 15. Pinehurst No. 2 has the top spot.

Burris pads resume

As a high school junior, Kevin Burris of Conway is trying to settle on a college and college golf program where he can play beginning in the fall of 2018.

A win on April 15 in the 14th annual Myrtle Beach Junior Golf Shootout at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club’s West and SouthCreek courses should boost his appeal to college coaches.

Burris, who is homeschooled and plays on the Carolina Forest High boys team, shot rounds of 70 and 72 for a 2-under-par 142 total and three-stroke win. A total of 26 boys ages 14 to 18 from eight states were vying for the overall boys title in the 52-player tournament for players ages 10-18.

Burris expects to meet with Coastal Carolina coaches later this week, and has received interest from Alabama-Birmingham and Tennessee-Chattanooga, according to his father, David.

Burris has been offered by NCAA Division II Lenoir-Rhyne but is hoping to play at the Division I level.

He has a chance to further pad the resume over the next couple weeks with the season’s key high school tournaments. The Region VI-5A tournament is next Monday at the General Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina, the 5A Lower State tournament is May 8 at The Golf Club at Wescott Plantation in Summerville, and the 5A state championship is May 15-16 back at Wescott.

Gracyn Burgess of Lexington, a high school junior who is committed to Clemson, won the Junior Shootout girls title by 21 strokes with a 70-69–139.

DJ record falls

Campbell University sophomore Jesper Svensson of Sweden broke Coastal Carolina alumnus and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson’s record score in the Big South Conference Championship on Saturday.

Svensson shot a 14-under par 202 with rounds of 67, 66 and 69 at the 7,120-yard Patriot Golf Club at Grand Harbor to break Johnson’s conference championship record by two strokes. As a senior in 2007, Johnson won by a record 11 strokes with a 12-under 204 with rounds of 71, 67 and 66 at the 6,987-yard Limestone Springs Golf Course in Oneonta, Ala.

The Camels finished with a championship-record 26-under 838 for its first Big South men’s golf title since rejoining the league in 2012 to qualify to participate at one of six NCAA regional sites.

Chappell’s helping hands

Kevin Chappell won his first PGA Tour event Sunday with a birdie on the 18th hole in the Valero Texas Open.

The California native has been on the tour for seven years, and he had help from a couple people from the Grand Strand on his way to the inaugural victory.

Chappell, the 2008 NCAA Division I individual champion who won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top collegiate golfer that year, was a pupil of instructor Nick Bradley of Sunset Beach, N.C., for parts of 2010 and 2011, winning on the Web.com Tour in that time.

Galivants Ferry native and Aynor High graduate Michael Maness was Chappell’s caddie for 2  1/2 years through May 2015, when Maness gave up life on tour for a job selling insurance. The two remain friends.

Chappell had six PGA Tour runner-up finishes, including four last year, before breaking through Sunday.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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