Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

The Traveling Golfer

With host Tony Leodora will travel both near and far to bring viewers a look at some of the most spectacular golf destinations in the world!

LPGA Tour

Davies deserves LPGA Hall of Fame

Written by Bob Oliver on .

There are some things that make no sense, no matter how you slice and dice the information.

I was thinking about that statement the other day. A simple nonsensical fact.

Dame Laura Davies is not in the LPGA Hall of Fame. 

Seriously?

What a disgrace.

Laura Davies is one of the finest women golfers ever, one who bedazzled LPGA fans for decades. 

Since arriving on US soil in 1987, when she captured the Women's United States Open at Plainfield Country Club, she's been a fan favorite. Thirty one years later on the Bay Course at Seaview, Davies drew a large number of fans. 

Over the years she has accumulated 20 LPGA victories including four major championship, all while supporting the Ladies European Tour where she's claimed 45 championships. With 85 career professional wins, her credentials are impecable. 

This has been a fine year for Davies, who still competes a limited LPGA schedule. Included was a second place finish at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. 

She also claimed two Senior Major CHampionships, the Senior Women's Open and the Senior LPGA Championship. Not to shabby.

Okay, the LPGA uses a point system to earn a Hall of Fame berth, and Davies is shy of the 27 points required for entry. But the Senior Championships don't county, nor 65 of her 85 career victories. 

The time is now to right this wrong. Laura Davies has outstanding credentials and should be in the LPGA Hall of Fame. 

Period. 

Benvenuto advances

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Neshaminy grad Brittany Benvenuto is a step closer to regaining her LPGA Tour playing privileges.

Benvenuto, who played on the LPGA Tour this season on a medical exemption, making just one cut, also played on the Symetra Tour. She played in 12 Symetra Tour events, earning a shade more than $22,000. 

This week she tied for 34th in Stage II qualifying in Florida on rounds of 71-73-72-72--288. That earns her a berth in the next round of qualifying and a shot at one of 45 Tour Cards up for grabs.

Park claims LPGA ShopRite Classic

Written by Bob Oliver on .

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ ---

Playing in only her fifth LPGA event, Long Island native Annie Park broke into the LPGA win column with a sparkling effort at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer. 

Just 23, Park displayed a smooth putting stroke amid the nerves that built throughout her final round. She harnessed her emotion and compiled a superb closing 63 to go with earlier rounds of 69 and 65 for a 16-under-par 197. That was one shot better than Sakura Yokomine and two shots ahead of Marina Alex.

The victory gave her a $262,500 pay day and invitation to all of the LPGA majors. 

"I was nervous, I'd be lying if I said otherwise," said the champion, who uses a lengthened putter. "My putting held together, and I kept making putts under pressure. They kept going in."

Park has played the tour for a couple years, with limited success.

"I've had my ups and downs, but never stopped believing in myself, my game," said the champion. 

Bucks County's two entries, Neshaminy grad Brittany Benvenuto and Pennsburg grad Jackie Rogowicz, failed to make the 36-hole cut.

Benvenuto played in her fifth event of her rookie season and fashioned a 1-under-par 70 to go along with a first round 76 for 146 total. The below par round was on her 30th birthday. 

"I played well today," said Benvenuto. "Yesterday, I didn't get any luck. Today, I played my game. I'm hitting the ball well."

Rogowicz, who earned a spot in the field through pfre-qualifying and qualifying events, is an incoming Penn State University senior. She posted a 72 to go along with a nervous 83 opening round for a 13-over-par 155. 

CHIP SHOTS: Benvenuto is in the final field for this week’s  Maijer Classic in Grand Rapids. She is playing on a medical exemption after missing all of last season with back and neck issues. She expects to play in 11-12 events this season and hopes to earn enough official money to retain LPGA status.

Nordqvist loves Bay Course at Seaview

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Galloway Township, NJ ---

There is little doubt - make that zero doubt, that Anna Nordqvist doesn't love the Bay Course at the Seaview Golf and Tennis Resort.

She's been a dominant player at the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer, winning three years ago and successfully defending her championship. Last year she played well, but finished second. 

Friday's first round of the 54-hole event was nothing new as Nordqvist sits atop the leaderboard alongside Laura Diaz and Celine Hobin after the three carded 5-under-par 66s over the windswept Bay Course. 

"I feel so comfortable here, I really like Seaview," said Nordqvist. "The wind can drive you nuts, but if you are patient I find it a nice place to play."

Bucks County natives had difficult starts to the event. Neshaminy graduate Brittany Benvenuto had no luck in a 5-over-par 76 effort, while Pennsbury grad and incoming Penn State senior Jackie Rogowicz suffered through an 83. Rogowicz is the only amateur in the field. 

"This is going to sound a little strange, but overall I played very well, maybe the best I've played this year," said Benvenuto, who turns 30 tomorrow. "The opening four holes were near disasters."

Benvenuto missed 3-4 foot putts on the first two holes, the first sent off line by a spike mark and the second when it careemed funnilly by the poana grass. A bad bounce on the green on her third hole forced another bogey and a slightly offline approach led to another. Four holes, four bogeys.

"I loved how I was hitting the ball but not the results," said Benvenuto. "I feel good. This is pro golf, and things happen. You have to deal with the highs and lows, the good and the bad."

Rogowicz only finished ahead of two players, but was very pleased with her effort. 

"Just being here is pretty cool," said Rogowicz. "What a learning experience. It was great playing with Brittany Lang. I mean, she's a major champion. She was wonderful to watch."

Rogowicz admitted to being somewhat nervous, but that the nerves were contained. "I just didn't want to do anything wrong, it's a great experience. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

CHIP SHOTS: Rogowicz hit a wayward drive on the second hole which ultimately was deemed out of bounds --- after a 26 minute wait for a rules official...Benvenuto has no special plans for her 30th - save a longshot hope of making the 36 hole cut. 

 

Benvenuto learns, grows on LPGA Tour

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Galloway Township ---
The road to the LPGA Tour is one full of hiccups and headaches, gut-wrenching twists and turns, and when you least expect it, positivity takes a backseat to reality. 
Brittany Benvenuto has seen it all in the 18 months since she earned her LPGA Tour playing privileges. 
Like the fact that her first actual LPGA event occured 13 months after qualifying. 
The Neshaminy graduate, a two-time captain of the golf team, honed her skills at the University of Arizona before a couple decent years on the Symetra Tour. She became tournament tested as she elevated her game and her mindset. When she earned her playing privileges it was a joyous time. 
Soon afterward, back and neck pain sent her scurrying to the sidelines, forcing extensive physical therapy and hard work to get her game back.
Last year she expected to play in 10-12 LPGA events and prove she could play among the world's best female professionals. Instead it was a blur of a comeback story.
This year Benvenuto is playing on a major medical extension and will have the opportunity to play in about 11-12 events. How she plays will determine whether she gets into other events. Strong play will move her up the list and into a few more events, or if she'll have to attempt to Monday qualify for others. 
"It's a long, hard road, but I'm optimistic," said Benvenuto on the practice range at Galloway National in preparation for Wednesday's ShopRite LPGA Classic pro-am. "I learn new things every week."
Missing her "rookie" LPGA season was a downer, but in the end it wasn't the worst thing in the world. "I was disappointed at first, you bet, but once the realization is there than I wasn't going to be playing I dedicated myself to getting well."
Benvenuto has played in four events this season, opening with a 72nd place finish at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on rounds of 70-71-75-75---291, earning $2,965. In her next three starts she missed the cut, at Volvik Championship (75-77), Volunteers of America Texas Classic (74-77) and Lotte Championship (75-78). 
"I feel my game is good, showing improvement, but I need to get some results," explained Benvenuto, who is in the 144-player field at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club near Atlantic City. "My instructor - Susie Meyers - has been a great help both with my game and with the mental aspects of things. There are a lot of building blocks to tackle."
Her scoring average of 74.70 needs improvement she admits, but it's the little things that really hurt. "You can make a couple good swings, but be facing a difficult up and down for par if that second shot is a little off," said Benvenuto, who is averaging 232 yards a drive, hitting 71 percent of the fairways but only 57 percent of greens in regulation. 
"Still, I'm confident that with a little improvement I can do some good things out here."
The transition to an LPGA schedule wasn't as bad as it could have been, with the biggest problem being uncertainty on when she will be playing. At the recent Kingsmill event she move from 8th to 2nd alternate but didn't get into the field. To keep sharp she's played in one Symetra Tour event this season, placing 56th.
"I'm taking things one step at a time, trying to build on my game and improve," said the former Pennsylvania Women's Amateur Champion and the only Bucks County woman to play in an LPGA Tour event. "Positivity is a good thing to have. I love the challenge."
At Seaview, she finds a Donald Ross course where accuracy is at a premium, not distance. That should work in her favor. 
"You know the saying, it's greens and fairways," said Benvenuto with a smile.
CHIP SHOTS: Benvenuto will open the ShopRite Classic with a 1:54 tee time Friday...