Golf

On Grand Strand Golf: Lundy back in U.S. after flirtation with Asian tours

Patrick Lundy
Patrick Lundy The Sun News

After spending a couple months bouncing around Asia as a member of the Asian Development Tour, Patrick Lundy of Little River has returned to the Grand Strand to play in the United States again – for the time being, anyway.

Lundy, who turned 26 Thursday, had full status on the ADT and partial status on the much more lucrative Asian Tour after participating in the Asian Tour’s Qualifying Tournament in January in Thailand.

He played in three ADT tournaments and one Asian Tour event with minimal success, but he managed to gain a financial sponsor that might help further his career.

“I went over there as a last option,” Lundy said. “The reason I went over to Asia to begin with was I was running so low on money, it was way cheaper to go over there and play and try to get some status. Since I got the little bit of status over there on a worldwide tour, it gave me a little bit of leverage to email sponsors.

“I don’t want to be in Asia, I don’t want to be playing over there, but I wanted to keep my career going, that’s why I went over there. Now that I have a little bit of help and I can pursue my career over here with the freedom of knowing I have the finances, I don’t really know if I’m going to go back. It’s still up in the air.”

If I have the money I want to be playing in America. My ultimate goal is the PGA Tour. Going to the Asian Tour, you’re just making it that much more difficult to get to the PGA Tour. At the same time I’m kind of torn because they’re worldwide events.

Patrick Lundy

Since returning to Little River, Lundy is playing on the Grand Strand-headquartered Swing Thought Tour’s national tour, and in three events he missed his first two cuts before tying for seventh at High Point (N.C.) Country Club to earn $3,800. He plans to play through June on the Swing Thought and make a decision thereafter.

He was in the final group in High Point, contending for a title for the first time since he had surgery on his left shoulder in January 2013 to repair a torn labrum and fix a tendon. “My game is really getting good. Now that I have these sponsors it has really freed me up,” said Lundy, who has joined the Members Club at Grande Dunes.

“I’ve fluctuated between coaches and everything else,” he continued. “I’ve kind of been lost for the last three years. I really feel like I’ve found my work ethic … and my game feels the best it ever has. My main goal is to keep working, get through Web.com Q-School this year, get on the Web.com next year, and hopefully Asia will kind of be on the back burner.”

Lundy has worked over the past several years with former PGA Tour member Hugh Royer III, Scott Shobe of the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy and Alasdair Dyer of Barefoot Resort.

He’s now been working for the past couple months with Brad Redding at the International Club of Myrtle Beach.

“I truly believe in the way he coaches and his swing philosophies, and I believe that’s what can take me to the next level. We really jell well together,” said Lundy, who said he recently shot a 59 at River Hills Golf & Country Club, though he took two drives off the first tee and moved his ball in the fairway.

“I feel my golf game taking off and I know I’m going to make it eventually. I’m very determined. I’m working hard.”

Lundy missed the cut in January to the final two rounds of the Asian Tour Q-School finals by two strokes with a 3-over 74-71-145.

The 2016 Asian Development Tour features 19 events with purses between $46,000 and $160,000 in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Chinese Taipei. The top five on the order of merit at season's end earn status on the Asian Tour, featuring 2016 purses starting at $300,000 and increasing into the millions.

The $300,000 is more than twice as much as any regular developmental tour in the U.S., “and if you win there’s no telling where you can go,” Lundy said.

Lundy said he was guaranteed five events on the Asian Tour this season. He missed a cut earlier this year in Bangladesh, received a late entry but wasn’t present for April’s $1.27 million Panasonic Open in Japan, and was informed via email that he has a spot in the $300,000 Queens Cup from June 16-19 in Thailand.

In three ADT tournaments, Lundy missed his first two cuts and finished 21st in his last event with a 73-70-70-72–285 in early February in Malaysia, but earned just $500 of a $46,600 purse.

He gained a financial sponsor in Dycom Industries after playing in a charity event with Dycom executives in Florida, and he’s still seeking other sponsors. Lundy said the sponsorship is strictly an advertising agreement and the parties will reevaluate it at the end of the year.

Lundy said his initial goal of cutting expenses while pursuing a playing career was successful. “The only expensive part about playing in Asia is getting to Asia. Once you’re over there it’s okay,” he said.

He said at his first tournament in Singapore, flights to the event were $37 round trip, and his hotel in Malaysia was $16 per night. He said the tours often cover hotel expenses.

But Lundy wasn’t sure where to establish a home in Asia, and said the down time between tournaments became a struggle. “It’s hard to find places to practice over there,” he said. “Some places don’t have such a thing as a driving range. Then you’re living out of a hotel week to week, I didn’t know where to base myself, things got pretty confusing over there in another country, and then you’re playing for pennies on the ADT Tour. I don’t have the desire to play the ADT Tour. I’d rather gamble bigger.

“If I could have shot two strokes higher and gained full status it would have been a no-brainer, I would have stayed over there.”

Trying to find a place to stay, trying to find a place to practice, trying to make sure your girlfriend is safe – it’s just a different lifestyle. … I’m working harder than I ever have in my life and my home life is good. My girlfriend is the best support you could ask for.

Patrick Lundy

He gained an appreciation for the golf amenities on the Strand and in the U.S. in general. At his first ADT event, he said there wasn’t a driving range or practice putting green, just a chipping green.

“It was a great experience. I learned a lot about myself and my relationship with my girlfriend,” said Lundy, whose girlfriend Ashley Kronenwetter traveled with him and caddied for him during his time in Asia. “… But it makes you really respect what you have in America as far as places to practice and ways to get better. Those guys, they’re practicing off mats, sometimes hitting balls into ponds. You really appreciate what you have here.

“It really trains you in a lot of different ways. Then when you get back here things seem a lot easier because you have a driving range to go to, you have coaches you can go to, stuff like that. We have it made here.”

MBJGF offerings expand

The Myrtle Beach Junior Golf Foundation and The Junior Tour Academy of Myrtle Beach at River Oaks Golf Club have expanded programming and have a few upcoming events.

The foundation fields two of the area’s five PGA Junior League Golf teams, and Saturday is the opening day for matches in Myrtle Beach for players up to the age of 13. River Oaks is hosting a Ryder Cup-style match and is providing pizza and wings and hole proximity contests, and team photos will be taken.

The five teams from the area participating are two from River Oaks coached by academy director Joe Carbonell and MBJGF co-founder Russ Brown, two from Wachesaw Plantation coached by head pro Joe Gagliano and assistant Josh Bialowans; and one from The Dunes Golf and Beach Club coached by assistant pro Ryan Wolf.

In PGA Junior League Golf, matches consist of four two-player team scramble matches. Each team has at least eight players with uniforms, and each player participates in each match. The summer schedule consists of a minimum of five nine-hole matches per team at a cost of $75 per player.

At River Oaks, a fee of $250 includes 16 one-hour practices, at least five additional scrimmage matches, two parties, and opportunities for an all-star team trip.

The MBJGF and academy have partnered with the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour to host a pair of events run by the MBJGF from July 2-3 at International World Tour Golf Links and Nov. 12-13 at Wild Wing Plantation. The MBJGF is considering hosting several more HJGT events next year. The Hurricane Tour has three other events on the Grand Strand this year, beginning with the Myrtle Beach Junior Challenge at the International Club of Myrtle Beach from June 18-19.

The foundation will host a Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand outing next Monday, and is partnering with NBA player Ramon Sessions on June 26 for a golf clinic at the new Myrtle Beach Sports Center during his basketball camp.

On July 4, the academy is holding a free clinic for all active and retired military that will include a celebration and memorial for soldiers who have died.

The foundation building on the River Oaks driving range now has a junior golf mural featuring local players with a sign coming out of the roof that reads: “Junior golf turn here.”

Par-3 events created

Midway Par 3 will be hosting a pair of event series this summer.

The four-event Summer Series at Midway Par 3 sponsored by Burroughs & Chapin Co. and The First Tee of the Grand Strand is open to youth ages 7-14 – both locals and visitors. The events are $20 and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

Playing lessons are June 4 and July 2, and Team Scrambles are June 18 and July 30. Visit www.thefirstteethegrandstrand.org to register. Parents who wish to participate can contact First Tee program director Patrick O'Brien at patrick@thefirstteethegrandstrand.org.

A two-player team Par 3 golf league called the Myrtle Beach P3A Tour will hold events every Tuesday from June 7 through Aug. 9. Preseason matches begin Tuesday. Tee times are between 5:30-6:30 p.m. and events are $20 per player.

The competition includes prizes and contests and golfers of all ages are welcome. Proceeds benefit the Myrtle Beach Junior Golf Foundation and players can register at http://mbjgf.org.

Veterans event upcoming

The 17th annual Veterans Golf Classic has attracted a field of 352 golfers from 29 states on its new dates this upcoming week.

The tournament has traditionally been held the week before Memorial Day, but it has been moved to this upcoming Monday through Wednesday on 11 Grand Strand courses. Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday operates the event, and marketing cooperative spokesman Chris King said the date change was to move it away from bike weeks – Myrtle Beach Spring Motorcylcle Rally (Harley week) on the front end and Atlantic Beach Bikefest on the back end – “and that time in June has historically been a little slower from a golf course perspective, so it just kind of worked out.”

The two-player team, 54-hole handicap tournament is open to all current or former members of the U.S. military and their friends. It features a different format of play each day – better ball, combined net team score and scramble – and each team must include at least one veteran or enlisted armed forces member. Teams are broken into the Eisenhower, MacArthur, Nimitz and Franks flights based on their handicaps.

This year’s host courses are Founders Club at Pawleys Island, Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina, Indian Wells Golf Club, Man O’War, Panther’s Run Golf Links, Possum Trot Golf Club, Rivers Edge Golf Club, Sandpiper Bay Golf Club, Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club, Thistle Golf Club and Wild Wing’s Avocet Course.

The event costs $280 per player and includes a Sunday welcome reception and Wednesday awards banquet, during which the colors of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard are presented.

The Carolina Cup, which matches members of the VFW against the American Legion, is a tournament within the tournament.

The Disabled Veterans National Foundation has become a presenting sponsor this year of the Veterans Golf Classic. The DVNF provides support to disabled and at-risk veterans who leave the military wounded either physically or psychologically. It contributes financially to specific veteran organizations, provides supplemental assistance to vets in need through a Health & Comfort program, and helps vets acquire the benefits they are entitled to.

Go to www.VeteransClassicGolf.com for more information about the event.

Sessions hosting tourney

Nine-year NBA guard and Myrtle Beach High graduate Ramon Sessions is hosting a charity golf tournament in Myrtle Beach on June 25 for the fifth consecutive year, and third straight year at River Oaks Golf Club.

The four-person team captain’s choice tournament costs $50 per player and proceeds will benefit Myrtle Beach High athletics.

“I realized how popular golf was in Myrtle Beach, and I got into it and thought it would be fun if I put on a golf tournament,” Sessions said. “I do things for the kids, and this would be something for the golfers to come out and give back to the school.”

The tournament attracted 156 players last year. It has a 9 a.m. shotgun start and includes an 8 a.m. registration and breakfast, lunch, awards, gift bag, skills contests and raffle. Sessions participates and hands out awards. Donations are tax deductible.

Sessions said he took up golf about six years ago and plays an average of a few days a week during his offseason from May into October. He lives in Atlanta and regularly plays at several courses there, and though he doesn’t keep a handicap he figures he’s about a 15.

“It was one of those things where after the season I thought about what I could do that was relaxing but was still challenging,” Sessions said. “I hit one or two shots the right way and fell in love with it, and I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Sessions, who is a free agent this summer, said he hopes to expand the tournament as early as next year, possibly by adding a second day or hosting a dinner the night before that would include a fundraising auction.

The golf tournament is one of a few things Sessions regularly does to benefit community members. This past weekend he held his eighth annual block party and cookout in the Racepath community in which he was raised, complete with a cookout in his backyard, bowling tournament at a rented bowling alley and softball game.

He’ll also be hosting his annual basketball camp in late June and gives away turkeys at Thanksgiving.

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