August 16, 2014

Woodcreek Classic launches future stars

Perhaps only students of the game will recognize the names of those who shatter par this week in the NGA Golf Tour’s Woodcreek Classic at the Members Club’s Woodcreek Course.

Perhaps only students of the game will recognize the names of those who shatter par this week in the NGA Golf Tour’s Woodcreek Classic at the Members Club’s Woodcreek Course.

But that will change; some of the fledgling professionals soon will be fixtures on Sunday afternoon television.

Former tournament chairman Stan Luallin follows the progress of “Woodcreek alumni” and sent this information after the PGA Tour’s April tournament in New Orleans: “Robert Streb and Andrew Svobada, tied for 2nd; Keegan Bradley and Tommy Gainey tied for 8th; Ben Martin (broke the course record with a 62) tied for 15th ...”

Fifteen who honed their games on tournaments such as the Woodcreek Classic collected paychecks in the New Orleans tournament, and Luallin reported that “alumni” earned more than $2 million in back-to-back events — the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head and the Zurich in New Orleans.

“Those are the caliber of players you see in our tournaments,” NGA Tour official Terry Johnson said. “We had two of our players qualify for the Tour tournament (that finishes Sunday) in Knoxville.”

One guarantee: par will take a beating at Woodcreek. Blake Sattler won a year ago at 24-under 264.

People at Woodcreek like to recall that Bradley earned $900 at the Tom Fazio-designed course in 2009. Two years later, he banked more than $3.3 million, won the PGA Championship and partnered with Phil Mickelson to sparkle on the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Stories such as Bradley’s “I knew you when” climb to stardom keep the membership eager for another tournament — this will be the club’s eighth NGA event — but the biggest winner will be the tournament’s charity, the Ronald McDonald House. This year’s donation will be $15,000, raising the total to $95,000.

“There are so many components to an event, and the biggest one is charity,” Johnson said. “What you have done here is amazing.”

“These are the players of the future,” club president Charlie Potok said. “We are privileged to have them and to offer a high level of golf to the Columbia community free of charge. We are proud that the Ronald McDonald House is the beneficiary. That’s why we are here.”

The week’s activities include a junior clinic at 4 p.m. Tuesday and pro-am activities Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon. The tournament runs Thursday-Sunday with tee times beginning at 7:30 each morning.

In recent years, the club has staged the S.C. Senior Championship and the S.C. Amateur in addition to the pros each summer.

This year’s Classic will be the course’s third in five weeks, following the Columbia Men’s Championship and the Women’s Trans-National.

Chip shots Keenan Huskey (Greenville), who heads to USC this fall, finished his junior career with a bang, winning the Trusted Choice It “I” national title in Bridgeport, W.Va. Huskey, the only player under par, won by four strokes, helped by a final 69. ...

Hilton Head Golf Island, a collection of 30 Lowcountry courses, has named the George Fazio Course at Palmetto Dunes the organization’s 2014 S.C. Golf Course of the Year. ...

Lea Venable (Simpsonville) and Hayley Hammond (Mooresville, N.C.) avenged their 2013 playoff loss by rolling to a nine-stroke victory in CGA’s Carolinas Women’s Four-Ball championship at Dataw Island Club’s Cotton Dike Course. The Lexington duo of Kathryn Miranda and Rachel Moore tied for fourth. ...

The Bojangles’ Hackers and Smackers tourney, which will benefit Home Works of America and the Bojangles’ Basketball Bash, will be Sept. 8 at Oak Hills GC. For information or to register, go to or visit Oak Hills or a Columbia-area Bojangles’ restaurant. The Baskeball Bash is scheduled Dec. 11-13 at Ridge View High. ...

Jasmine Cunningham, a college freshman in Maryland, aced the par-3 7th at Crickentree, using a driver on the 199-yard hole.

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