Golf: Bettencourt still relishes breakthrough

Make no mistake: Matt Bettencourt is happy to be in the PGA Tour this year after his victory at the 2008 Nationwide Tour Championship.

If he had to defend his title, though, the Greer resident said he would enjoy doing so at Daniel Island's Ralston Creek course, which hosts this year's Nationwide Tour Championship from Oct. 22-25.

"(Daniel Island) is world class," Bettencourt said this week. "To play well there, you have to have good distance control. It's challenging, and if the wind blows, it'll cause havoc."

The Nationwide Tour Championship features the top 60 money winners on this year's tour, with the top 25 earning PGA Tour status for 2010. Among the field is former Clemson All-American Kevin Johnson.

Unlike Johnson, who has spent most of his career on the developmental tour, Bettencourt needed three years to move up. His breakthrough came last fall, when he won the Oregon Classic and had three of his year's five top-10 finishes. "I was No. 12 (on the money list), so I knew going in (to the tour championship) I had a PGA Tour spot locked up," Bettencourt said.

Still, finishing No. 1 meant he was exempt for every PGA Tour event this year, a huge advantage for scheduling and confidence. Bettencourt earned $717,677, 106th on the money list, to all but assure his return in 2010.

"The belief you can go out and win, compete with the best" is what he took from last year, Bettencourt said. "That's given me the confidence to play the PGA Tour."

S.C. state's team. Beaufort native and former USC player Mark Anderson will compete Wednesday-Friday at the U.S. Golf Association's biennial State Team Championship at St. Louis' Country Club of St. Albans.

Joining Anderson are S.C. Mid-Amateur winner Jarrett Grimes of Columbia and two-time S.C. Golf Association player of the year Steve Liebler of Irmo. The State Team counts the best two of three team scores each round.

Women's amateur. Greer's Dawn Woodard defended her Women's S.C. Golf Association Stroke Play title, beating Simpsonville's Lea Venable by six shots at Seabrook Island's Ocean Winds course.

Woodard shot 11-over 227 for the 54-hole event. Bluffton's Wallace Hamerton finished third. That trio also made up the South Carolina entry in the USGA State Team Championship, where they finished fifth and Woodard was runner-up individual.

Susan Harden of Beaufort won the tournament's State Division in a one-hole playoff against Gilbert's Nancy Dodge, and Mount Pleasant's Christine Schaible won the net title with a 228. USC Beaufort athletics director Kim Abbott won the championship division's second flight.

Palmetto hosts seniors. A field of 124 players will compete at the Carolinas Golf Association's Senior Amateur Championship, Tuesday-Thursday at Aiken's Palmetto Golf Club.

Raleigh's Paul Simson, the 2008 winner, withdrew to compete in the USGA State Team Championship. Other contenders are 2003 champion Gene Spencer of Blythewood, 2004 winner Vic Hannon of Camden and Doug Buchanan, who led local qualifying at Cobblestone Park Golf Club.

Chip shots. Leesville's Caleb Proveaux shot rounds of 77-76 to win the boys 10-12 division of the Hilton Head Junior Open at Indigo Run's Golden Bear Club. Other age-group winners: Mount Pleasant's Reed Kerwin (16-19) and Bluffton's Wesley Long (13-15). ... The Rotary Club of Lexington will host its Fun Fest Tournament, 12:30 p.m. Monday at CC of Lexington. Call (803) 753-7717 or go to ... Newberry College's women's team finished fourth in Pfeiffer's Lady Falcon/McNairy Invitational after the second round was voided due to a USGA rules infraction. Catawba beat runner-up USC Beaufort by three shots. ... USC Aiken shot 12-under-par to finish third at the Springhill Suites Intercollegiate at Florence's CC of South Carolina. Furman was fourth. ... Santee Resort GC hosts the Tri-County Regional Chamber of Commerce Captain's Choice Tournament at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 15. Call (843) 563-9091 or (803) 496-3831. ... ... Former USC Aiken All-American Scott Brown finished sixth and former Clemson player Brian Duncan of Mount Pleasant tied for seventh in the eGolf Professional Tour's Walnut Creek (N.C.) Open.