Fort Myers 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 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 Myers 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.

Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.