Atlanta Braves rebuild on the diamond remain strong on the golf course

By Erik PetersonMarch 8, 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!
 
ORLANDO, Fla. ' If youre a baseball fan, you know that during the 1990s the Atlanta Braves set the MLB standard for pitching. Future Hall of Fame hurlers Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux made up 'The Big Three.'
 
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Former Brave John Smoltz has has caused some including Tiger Woods to believe he has a career on the Champions Tour.
If youre a golf fan, you know the Braves also set a high bar on the golf course. John Smoltz anchored the squad in that regard, and when he signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox this off-season not only did it mark the end of his 20-year run with the Braves, but it also meant the Braves staff of great golfers took a serious hit (Smoltz carries a 1.6 handicap).
 
Today, the Braves next generation is being developed. Leading the pack is 25-year-old right fielder, Jeff Francoeur, who, as it turns out, is also an excellent golfer (his handicap is 5). In fact, past and present got together for a friendly golf game last week. The venue: Orlando's Isleworth Country Club. The host: Tiger Woods. Asked before his round if he'd take it if the world's no. 1 gave him three shots a side, Francoeur managed a quick smile before his competitiveness intervened. 'Last time we played at Isleworth Tiger made eight birdies and I shot 77. Im probably going to ask him for four,' he said.
 

Q&A with the Atlanta Braves
Welcome to springtime in Orlando, Fla. This is where the weather feels like New England in July, and there are more golf courses than in the entire state of Maryland. And while golf is probably not the reason the Braves call Disneys Wide World of Sports their home for spring training, it sure helps when you have numerous excellent options for golf within 15 minutes of your stadium. And, as it turns out, all of them are open to the public.
 
The nearest collection of courses is on Disneys sprawling, 35-square-mile property. There are four Disney courses from which to choose, all of which are championship-caliber.
 

General Info on Braves Spring Training
The Magnolia and Palm courses host the PGA Tour Childrens Miracle Network Classic, the final event on the PGA Tour schedule. Its past champions include such notables as Jack Nicklaus, Payne Stewart and Tiger Woods.
 
At 6,957 yards, Magnolia is the longest and most difficult of the Disney courses, though its no match for PGA Tour players who find little trouble negotiating the courses nearly 100 bunkers and large, undulating greens. Both Palm and Magnolia provide a formidable challenge for the everyday golfer, however. The other two Disney courses are Lake Buena Vista and Osprey Ridge.
 
For another excellent collection of golf courses, head a few exits west on I-4 to Ginn Reunion Resort. Each of its three golf courses (Legacy, Tradition and Independence) is designed by a renowned architect (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, respectively). The surrounding luxury residential community is the spring training home of several Braves players, including catcher, Clint Sammons.
 
I love staying at Reunion, Sammons said. Theyre really good about getting us out on any of their three golf courses, plus, its really close to the stadium so its very convenient for us players.
 
Each course in Reunions trio is similar to the other in that its suitable for all skill levels, a design characteristic customary in the resort golf genre. However, undulating greens and the flexibility of its tee boxes allow Reunion to draw professional events such as the LPGA Ginn Open, while also catering to the everyday golfer.
 
If youre looking to buck the trend of a standard Disney vacation, the condo-style living at Reunion is an excellent alternative. It has a feeling all its own, yet is only 15 minutes from Disney. And with a water park and several pools, it remains family 'and Braves' friendly.
 
For another course thats a favorite among Braves players, head back toward Disney to the town of Celebration. Developed in the early 1990s by the Walt Disney Co., the town is a real-life Pleasantville, where most residences are painted shades of white, and large front porches provide a welcoming feel thats quintessential Disney.
 
And because no quaint little town is complete without a golf course, Celebration Golf Club opened in 1996. Carefully routed through natural wetlands, the course tips out at 6,792 yards, but has several sets of tees, including one for juniors. Adding to its family appeal is the fact that it was designed by the father/son team of Robert Trent Jones and Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
 
Head professional Kenny Nairn said its a common respite for Braves players, some of whom seek his keen eye for tips on their golf swing.
 
We have a great relationship with the Braves organization, Nairn said. Its amazing how competitive they are. Some of our staff and I will enjoy a friendly game with them, and they take it very seriously. Its evident they compete for a living.
 
But even when Braves players arent around, the course remains highly sought after. It prides itself on constantly changing for the better 'a new golf school is proof of such.
 
There are several possible itineraries for a spring training trip to Orlando, whether youre seeking a week with the family with baseball as just one of the options, or a weekend trip with as much golf and baseball crammed in as possible.
 
If you want to go the less expensive route, remember that most courses in the area have discount rates if you stay at their hotel, and/or book your tee time in the afternoon. Check out GolfNow.com for tee times at more than 20 Disney-area golf courses.
 
At the stadium, if you go the family route consider tickets in the outfield lawn. Although this option doesnt entitle you to a physical seat, the grassy hill is laid back, comfortable, and a great option for families with kids. Spread a picnic blanket out on the grass, flag down a cold beverage vendor and youve just discovered spring training bliss.
 
No matter how you decide to do it, attending a spring training game is a must for any avid baseball fan. And playing golf during spring training makes it even better. If John Smoltz and Jeff Francoeur can do it, then so can you!
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Mullinax fires course-record 62 at Valero

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 9:01 pm

Trey Mullinax surged into contention during the third round of the Valero Texas Open, shooting a 10-under 62 that set a new course record on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

Mullinax started the day seven shots off the pace, but by the time he completed his round he had taken a one-shot lead with the overnight leaders still on the course. The former Alabama standout caught fire on the back nine, shooting a 7-under 29 despite a bogey after chip-ins for eagle on No. 14 and birdie on No. 16 to go along with an eagle on the home hole.

"It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had," Mullinax told reporters. "To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good."

Mullinax appeared headed for a missed cut after a 74 in the opening round, but he bounced back with a second-round 68 to earn a weekend tee time and his third-round score broke the previous course record of 63 held by multiple players.

The 25-year-old finished 137th in FedExCup points last season, leaving him with only conditional status this season. His lone top-10 finish of the year came at the Valspar Championship, where he survived a Monday qualifier and went on to tie for eighth, and this marks only his third start since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.

"Obviously I would like to play a little more, but the tournaments I get in, I'm really excited about playing golf," Mullinax said. "I've loved every start I've gotten, and I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in."

Mullinax holed a putt to clinch a national title for the Crimson Tide in 2014, and he finished T-9 at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But success has been fleeting among the professional ranks, meaning Sunday's opportunity to notch a career-best finish or breakthrough victory is nothing short of enticing.

"I'm sure you'll be nervous," Mullinax said. "To have a chance to win or just go play good golf is what I came here for, so that's what I'm going to do."

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Quiros maintains one-shot lead through 54 in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 7:46 pm

RABAT, Morocco - A birdie on the last hole gave Alvaro Quiros a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Trophee Hassan II.

Quiros' birdie on No. 18 allowed the Spanish golfer to sign for an even-par 72 on Saturday to stay at 7-under par overall and clear of four players in second place.

South African pair Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, France's Alexander Levy, and Finland's Mikko Ilonen were just a shot behind at 6 under heading into the final day at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat.

Quiros is a seven-time winner on the European Tour, but went six years without a victory until last year with his triumph at the Rocco Forte Open in Italy.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


He's seeking a wire-to-wire victory in Morocco after sharing the first-round lead with Bradley Dredge before taking it outright on Day 2.

Quiros had an on-off day in the third round - he said it was ''suddenly great shot, suddenly not so good'' - and carded four birdies and four bogeys to come out even and still hold on to his lead.

Van Rooyen shot 71, Bezuidenhout 68, Levy a 69, and Ilonen the best round of the week so far with his 6-under 66.

Ilonen had seven birdies and just a single bogey - on his first hole - to leap 23 places up the leaderboard and into contention for a first tour title since 2014 when he won the World Match Play Championship.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.