Golf

The Myrtle Beach golf market is two courses away from being full strength after Dorian

A college golfer hits a tee shot toward the clubhouse at True Blue Golf Club in Pawleys Island on Monday during the Golfweek Program Challenge tournament, which concluded Tuesday.
A college golfer hits a tee shot toward the clubhouse at True Blue Golf Club in Pawleys Island on Monday during the Golfweek Program Challenge tournament, which concluded Tuesday. Golf Tourism Solutions

All but two golf courses in the Myrtle Beach market have reopened in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

At least three courses were hit by tornadoes Friday morning in the early stages of the Category 2 storm’s arrival.

River Hills Golf & Country Club reopened quickly, and Crow Creek Golf Club reopened on Tuesday, a day earlier than anticipated after removing more than two dozen trees that were felled by a twister.

Sea Trail Golf Resort’s Maples Course remains closed as workers at the three-course facility focused on getting the property’s Jones and Byrd courses reopened, the latter course reopening Tuesday. The Maples Course has tree cleanup remaining around some holes and should reopen in the near future.

That leaves just the Maples Course and Myrtlewood Golf Club’s Palmetto Course as the only closed layouts among the Grand Strand’s approximate 80 public courses. The Palmetto Course has been closed for renovations since June 24 and is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 20 or 21 with new greens and redesigned bunkers.

In addition to the Sea Trail Byrd Course, River Club and the final nine holes at 27-hole facilities Arrowhead Country Club and Brunswick Plantation reopened Tuesday. Most courses reopened between Friday and Monday after Dorian drifted north of the Strand early Friday morning.

Because the Waccamaw River isn’t expected to flood, courses such as The Witch and Aberdeen Country Club that are susceptible to flooding when the Waccamaw overflows its banks aren’t in danger of closing.

Seabass earns Euro win

Coastal Carolina alumnus Sebastian Soderberg outdueled World No. 2 Rory McIlroy to secure European Tour status through 2021 with his first tour victory on Sept. 1 in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

He jumped from 120th to 47th in the Race to Dubai standings.

He was battling to maintain European Tour status next season after graduating from the European Challenge Tour last season, as the top 110 in the season-long points race will retain status for 2020.

He began the final round of the European Masters four shots back in a pairing with McIlroy, who was coming off a win in the PGA Tour Championship the previous weekend for the season-long FedExCup points title.

Soderberg, who admitted to having shaky nerves on the final few holes, birdied five consecutive holes on the back nine to take the lead but nearly missed his opportunity for a win with a three-putt from 5 feet on the 17th hole.

On the first hole of a playoff with McIlroy, Lorenzo Gagli, Andres Romero and Kalle Samooja, the 28-year-old earned the win with a 10-foot birdie putt that preceded shorter misses by McIlroy and Samooja.

Soderberg, who was inducted into the Coastal Carolina George F. “Buddy” Sasser Athletics Hall of Fame last November, played at CCU from 2010-13 and was nicknamed “Seabass” after the character in the film “Dumb and Dumber.”

Soderberg has CCU’s fourth-best career scoring average (73.45), is tied for third with two career wins, and is third in career rounds of par or better, birdies and eagles among Coastal’s all-time leaders. As a senior in 2013, he was named All-American and Big South Golfer of the Year.

He led Coastal to Big South championships and NCAA regional appearances in both 2010 and ’13, advanced to the 2011 NCAA Championship, participated as an individual in the 2012 NCAA Athens Regional, and is one of three Chants in program history to be a three-time All-Big South selection.

As a professional, he joined the Challenge Tour in 2015 and finished 31st and 32nd in the order of merit in his first two years.

He played in 16 European Tour events in 2017 with partial status and earned more than 136,000 euros but did not retain status for 2018, then finished fifth on the 2018 Challenge Tour order of merit to be one of 15 players to graduate to Europe’s top circuit.

The Sweden native is now ranked 109th in the world.

DJ has surgery

Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson, the No. 3 player in the world, had arthroscopic surgery Thursday in Florida to repair cartilage damage in his left knee, according to a release from his management team.

The surgery was considered routine, according to the release, was similar in nature to the surgery on his right knee in December 2011 and was performed by the same doctor, orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Caldwell.

Johnson, 35, is expected to make a full recovery and return to the PGA Tour later this fall.

The 2016 U.S. Open champion and former World No. 1 won twice in 2019 – his 20th PGA Tour title at the WGC-Mexico Championship and the European Tour’s Saudi International – both titles occurring in February.

He also tied for second in the Masters and was second to world No. 1 Brooks Koepka in the PGA Championship after making a run at the lead in the final round.

But in his last eight starts in 2019, Johnson’s best finish was a tie for 20th in both the RBC Canadian Open and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. In his last start of the season at the Tour Championship, he tied for last in the 30-man field and confessed to the media he was mentally drained.

The surgery will force him to take an extended break from the game and he’ll presumably be recharged and anxious to return.

Golfweek event returns

Thirty NCAA Division I college golf teams were on the Grand Strand on Monday and Tuesday for the 2019 co-ed Golfweek Program Challenge at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Golf Club in Pawleys Island.

Campbell University, which has won six of seven years from the tournament’s inception in 2011 through last year, including last year’s men’s and women’s championships, was not in the field, opening up the opportunity for new champions.

Jacksonville University, the highest-ranked men’s team in the competition at No. 65 out of 298 Division I programs according to Golfstat.com, won the men’s tournament by three strokes over Jacksonville State with a 12-under that included a 7-under 273 in the final round. Jacksonville State tied for second last year.

UNC Wilmington sophomore Segundo Oliva Pinto of Argentina was the medalist with an 18-under 192, including a 9-under 61 Tuesday at Caledonia.

In the women’s competition, High Point defeated the top seed, Marshall, by four strokes with an 8-under 872. Marshall is ranked No. 98 in the country and third-place Delaware was the top finishing returning program from 2018. UNCW freshman Phu Khine of Myanmar was the medalist with a 7-under 209 that included a 5-under 67 Tuesday at True Blue.

Most participating schools had both men’s and women’s teams entered including USC Upstate, Elon, Florida Atlantic, Purdue-Fort Wayne, Stetson and UNCW. Florida-Gulf Coast, George Mason and Old Dominion were also in the men’s field, while Illinois-Chicago and High Point were in the women’s event.

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