Gleason Notches First Futures Tour Victory
And while the petite 5-foot-4 pro, weighing in at 112 pounds, sees herself more as a Golden Retriever rather than some sock-chasing little scrapper, it's safe to say that her debut victory garnered a little more respect from her bigger-hitting, stronger peers who were outplayed by the player they call 'the little kid.' Today, the little kid came up big, capping off a week in which she carded rounds of 69-67-68 for a 12-under-par finish of 204 at Lost Creek Country Club.
'I wouldn't tee it up at a tournament if I didn't feel I could win,' said Gleason of Clearwater, Fla., who launched her pro career a year ago with the financial support of members at East Lake Woodlands Golf & Country Club outside Tampa , where she works in the off-season. 'You can finally say, 'The little kid got the job done.''
A complete left-hander, who plays golf from the right side, even held off a complete right-hander, who plays golf from the left side today. Kelly Lagedrost of Brooksville, Fla., shattered the tournament record by two strokes when she went from even par-144 after 36 holes, to a 9-under-par performance of 63 in the final round with a bogey-free, nine-birdie showing to climb up the leaderboard on Sunday and finish tied for fourth at 207 (-9).
But it was defending champion Danielle Downey of Spencerport , N.Y. , who went nose-to-nose with the Florida scrapper all day. Playing in the same group, the two tied or swapped leads throughout the round. Their first lead change came on the fifth hole when Gleason bogeyed and Downey birdied. Downey moved ahead by one, but Gleason caught her on the 11th hole when she rolled in a 10-footer for birdie. The upstate New Yorker answered with her own birdie from 5 feet on the 13th hole to go up by one. But Downey bogeyed the 14th and 15th holes on missed approach shots, allowing Gleason to draw even once again at the 15th.
'That stretch of holes, from 14, 15 and 16, are the Amen Corner of Lost Creek,' said Gleason, who played collegiately at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro . 'We were back and forth all day, but I just felt like something was going to happen there and I knew I'd better buckle down. Danielle is really tough all day.'
But the tight fairways and the tiny greens of the 5,973-yard course were even tougher. Gleason leaned on her strengths -- her putting and accuracy off the tee -- and Downey tried to make the same magic work for her that had won this event a year ago. But the shots she needed down the toughest stretch of holes fell just short. On the par-three, 17th tee, she second-guessed her club selection and wound up short in the left bunker. When the former Auburn University All-American didn't get up and down for par from 12 feet, her tenacious little opponent seized another opportunity when she drained an 18-foot, downhill breaking speed putt right in the heart for birdie. That two-shot swing put Gleason on top by two with only the par-five 18th hole to play.
Climbing the stairs to the elevated tee box on 18, Gleason told herself only one thing: You have to drive it in the fairway. She did, but Downey 's tee shot sailed right, setting up a difficult, low-flying shot with her 3-wood. On her third shot, Downey gave her 7-wood a rip and found the back fringe of the 18th green, but the best she could manage was par when she chipped from 20 feet and one-putted from three feet. Gleason's approach shot from 85 yards set up her final two-putt par from 12 feet for the win.
'I'm happy for Jenny and she definitely beat me,' said a disappointed Downey . 'If you'd told me that I'd shoot 10 under this week, I'd be thrilled, but it's a little bittersweet to let a couple of shots go and lose the tournament. It's going to be a tough ride home.'
While Downey and Gleason were duking it out in their own last-group pairing and Lagedrost was hanging around the clubhouse for more than three hours to see how her round would hold up, another player, Sarah Lynn Johnston, made her own run at the lead. Holing out for eagle from 104 yards from the ninth fairway, Johnston drew within three shots of the lead. But her only back-nine birdie came on the last hole when she drained an 8-footer for a final-round score of 3-under-par 69 and a share of second with Downey at 10-under 206.
'I hit it inside 15 feet more than three times on the back nine and didn't make any of them, but I told myself to stay patient,' said Johnston , of St. Charles , Ill. 'I gave myself every opportunity to win, but it wasn't my time.'
It was time for Gleason, who was loose and relaxed all day. When she made the nine-hole turn and walked past fellow Futures Tour pro Meaghan Francella, the former Tar Heel quipped, 'Happy Easter!' as Gleason walked by, referring to Gleason's springy apparel colors of pink and green. Gleason took one look at Francella's orange shirt and quickly traded quips, 'And Happy Halloween to you!' Both players laughed and Gleason rolled on.
That comfort started early in the week when Gleason stayed in the home of fellow Futures Tour player Amy Langhals, who lives in nearby Kalida , Ohio . Gleason rode to the course with Langhals each day, practiced at her host pal's home course and enjoyed the comforts of small-town America .
But her biggest comfort must have come from the fact that she knew Lost Creek's demandingly tight layout perfectly suited her game. By the time Gleason walked off the course as a winner, she had rolled in 28 putts, hit 14 greens and found 12 of 14 fairways.
'We put together a game plan back when she was in college to be solid within 100 yards, to make every 4-foot putt and to consistently two-putt from 40-50 feet,' said her swing coach, Kelley Phillips, a teaching professional at Sedgefield County Club in Greensboro, N.C. 'She knew she wouldn't be the longest hitter on tour and that her strength needed to be consistency. Jenny's extremely competitive, so I'm not one bit surprised that she won.'
Nor should anyone else. Gleason's win bumped her from 29th on the Futures Tour's season money list to No. 8, and likely will give the non-exempt LPGA Tour member a few things to think about over the Futures Tour's next 10 tournaments. Should she jump into the top five, she'll end the season with her full LPGA Tour status for 2006, which could alter her back-and-forth tournament schedule between the two tours. As an alternate on the LPGA Tour next week in Rochester , N.Y. , Gleason might be wondering if her wait for a spot in LPGA events is worth her chance of winning again on the Futures Tour and earning her full LPGA status without the grind of Q-School.
'The experience that you gain out here makes you want to get better and go to the next level,' she said. 'But I've only played golf for nine years and I'm still learning this game.'
Even so, Gleason proved today that if she latches on to your sock, she just might not let go until she gets what she really wants.
Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle
Really, the headline says it all.
"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.
Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.
Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event
Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.
Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.
Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.
According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.
News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.
PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.
PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.
“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”
“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”
The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”
Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.
"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”
“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”
Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016). Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.
To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.
The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.
Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse
A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.
According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.
The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.
Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.