Fort Meyers PGA Tours George McNeill welcome Red Sox to Florida

By Jay CoffinMarch 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
Throughout March, GolfChannel.com will spotlight various MLB spring training locations throughout Florida. A total of 16 MLB teams visit Florida each spring during a time when the state's golf season is also in full swing. We highlight the options for golf and baseball in each region, giving you, the fan, the ultimate guide to golf and baseball in the Sunshine State. Play Ball!
 
FORT MEYERS, Fla. ' Fort Myers isnt the most historic golf city in golf-rich Florida, but if you dig Americas pastime as much as you do golf, the former winter home of Thomas Edison could make for a spiffy jaunt for those looking for a break from chillier climates.
 
george mcneill
PGA Tour winner and Fort Meyers native George McNeill
Both the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins have called Fort Myers their spring training home since the early 1990s. Its no coincidence that those were the years where business began to prosper in March on many of the citys public courses.
 
March has been our busiest month for a long time, said Rich Lamb, director of golf for the City of Fort Myers, which includes Fort Myers Country Club and Eastwood Golf Club. You have longer days, you have the Red Sox and Twins in town, the weather is better and kids typically have spring break. Add it all up and were usually rocking in March.
 
Fort Myers Country Club, affectionately dubbed The Fort, benefits most from the New Englanders because it is 2 miles from the Red Sox spring training facility, City of Palms Park, and it sits along Cleveland Ave., the citys most popular drag.
 
The Fort was designed by Donald Ross in 1916, opened a year later and is one of the oldest facilities on the west coast of Florida. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford frequented the course in the 1920s and for the last 46 years Fort Myers Country Club has hosted the Coors Open, a pro-am format that is the longest running golf event in southwest Florida. PGA Tour winner and Fort Myers native George McNeill won the Coors in 2008.
 
Other public tracks with reasonable rates within 10 miles of the Sox are Eastwood Golf Club and Heritage Palms Golf & Country Club. Eastwood, like Fort Myers Country Club, is owned and operated by the City of Fort Myers. Said McNeill of Eastwood: Its a really neat golf course. No homes on it, just golf. Its in the middle of town but it doesnt feel like it.
 

General Info on Red Sox Spring Training
According to McNeill, your best bet to see baseball players on the links is at Heritage Palms, a 10-year-old facility that is equidistant from City of Palms Park and Hammond Stadium, the Twins home ballpark.
 
Dont be misled. The odds of seeing big-named major leaguers are rare unless youve found access into one of southwest Floridas many private clubs. It seems that these days many use spring to hone their shortgames as much as they do to hone their fastball. Hence, they rent houses at private clubs during March so they can take full advantage of golf privileges.
 
Fiddlesticks Country Club (former Red Sox star Dwight Evans owns a house on the course), the Club at Renaissance (where former Red Sox and current Atlanta Brave Derek Lowe recently built a home) and Olde Hickory Country Club are where most of the avid players take refuge according to several Fort Myers golf nuts.
 
Derek (Lowe) hits it absolutely forever, said McNeill, a member at both Fiddlesticks and Cypress Lake Country Club. He hits it so far its a joke. Hes 6-5 or 6-6 and generates a lot of speed. Hes a decent player. (Bert) Blyleven is a decent player. None of those guys are really good, but a lot of them are decent.
 
Then there is John Smoltz ' the longtime Atlanta Braves stud who is in his first year with the Red Sox ' who always find a place to play and someone to play with. Smoltz reportedly made the 3-plus hour trek from Fort Myers to Orlando last week to play 36-holes at posh Isleworth Country Club with Tiger Woods. The two were joined by Atlanta Braves rightfielder Jeff Francoeur for the final 18 holes in the afternoon, just after Francoeur got in an at-bat during the Braves afternoon tilt with the New York Yankees at Disneys Wide World of Sports Complex.
 
McNeill said that Smoltz reached out more than a week ago looking for a game when McNeills Tour schedule permits. The two havent played yet but McNeill will likely contact the future baseball Hall of Famer when he gets a break in the next couple weeks. McNeill doesnt know where theyll play, but he knows theyll have plenty of options.
 
There are a lot of private clubs, but there are also a select few public courses, said McNeill, winner of the 2007 PGA Tour Frys.com Open. There are so many of them that you can find a place to play, whether its Fort Myers or Naples or even just a little north in Charlotte County. Youve got the every day place for $50, or you can pay quite a bit more.
 
And if you visit in March, theres plenty of time left to catch a ballgame.
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.