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

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...

LPGA, Benvenuto in AC

Written by Bob Oliver on .

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, NJ
Let's face it, one of the sure fire ways to know summer is almost here at the Jersey Shore is the annual trek by the LPGA to Stockton Seaview Golf Resort and the ShopRite LPGA Championship presented by Acer.
The event has been around since 1986 - with a brief respite - and most of those events have been played at the Donald Ross designed Bay Course. 
It's history is chock full of great champions, from Annika Sorenstam to Karrie Webb, from Stacy Lewis to Anna Nordqvist. Last year I.K. Kim kickstarted a stellar season which included a win in the RICOH British Open with a win at Seaview, ruining two-time defending champion Nordqvist's attempt at a three-peat. 
Kim won by two over Nordqvist after rounds of 66-67-69--201 earning her fourth LPGA Tour title. 
Bucks County's own Brittany Benvenuto is entered, playing her fourth LPGA event that has seen her make one cut. Benvenuto will be playing in the Wednesday pro-am at Galloway National down the street from Seaview.  The former Pennsylvania Women's Amateur Champion is playing this season on a medical exemption after missing last season due to injury. 

 

Ridderstrom claims Symetra Tour event

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Golf is a simple game. Just make shots, make putts and move ahead to the next hole.

Along the was though are more pitfalls and one can imagine. I mean, playing the ball as it lies. Hitting out of sand drenched bunkers, evading inviting water hazards on a hot afternoon when a dip would cool you off.

Okay, golf isn't simple. But the premise is. Score low. Best par. Make the best of each and every bit of luck you get. 

At the inaugural Valley Forge Invitational, a Symetra Tour event played on Pottstown's Raven's Claw Golf Club, the competition was intense. 

Before teeing off Louise Ridderstrom of Sweden knew she'd have to go low to have any chance at winning. She was three shots back, and conditions were there for scoring. If, and that's a big if, there was a way to do it.

Clearly, she did. Ridderstrom carded a sparkling 8-under-par 63 to finish at 16-under-par 197 for the 72 hole event, winning by four shots over Min-G. Kim and Laura Wearn. Her 63 was a course record at Raven's Claw.

The Symetra Tour features many of the aspiring LPGA Tour players, with a season long race to earn tour playing privileges. 

CHIP SHOTS: Numerous local charities shared in proceeds from the event...Raven's Claw is a challenging daily fee course in Pottstown. Ridderstrom earned $15,000 for her victory.