Community Sports

Tuesday, Jan 08 2013 11:14 PM

Robert Gautney: A look at what's ahead for local golf this year

BY ROBERT GAUTNEY Contributing golf columnist Gautney@att.net

2012 has passed and 2013 is upon us. So what will be in store for local, county, state, national and worldwide golf? Who will be headline makers for 2013?

Obviously we don't know those answers, but from past experience know we can look forward to more great individual and team performances from our local amateur and professional golfers.

On the professional scene, BHS and Fresno State product Bhavik Patel will embark upon his pro tour career as he is an exempt member of the Web.Com Tour, the PGA Tour's minor league and now the pathway to the PGA Tour.

Patel earned that right by playing his way through Local, First Stage, Second Stage and then Final Stage Qualifying for the PGA Tour. Patel's journey will start in February when he competes in three events out of the country. Tee to Green will follow Patel and bring you all of his results for the year.

We have a handful of other players in pro golf too, like Bryan Hogan, Grant Doverspike and John Balfanz, who is hoping to find his way to the Senior PGA Tour in a year or so.

On the college scene, we have many local products paying women's and men's golf but Ruffie Fessler (Liberty, BC and Fresno State) will be in his senior year at Fresno State and Pete Fernandez (Stockdale) will be in his junior year at Cal State Irvine.

For the gals, former Frontier star Meghan Shain is in her first year at Santa Clara, and although Kaley In is still in high school at Stockdale, she will be trying to make her mark in the fall when she joins the UC Irvine women's team there.

Locally, we have the CSUB men's and women's teams and both teams at Bakersfield College, so it will be interesting to see if the teams or any individuals and can make their mark(s) in college golf.

It will also be interesting to see how the development of future star Alexis Phadungmartvorakul progresses. Alexis P. as she is normally referred to, is one of the top ranked girls golfers in Southern California and has won many So Cal PGA Junior Tour events in the 12-14 age group as a 12- and now 13-year-old. She lives in Taft, but is presumed to be in line to move to Bakersfield and - and attend Stockdale, but is still in junior high and won't graduate high school until 2018.

What will happen with the Women's Kern County Amateur? The 2012 tournament was canceled after less than 15 players signed up to play. Foss-Kern River pro Jacque Servadio is in charge of the event so hopefully she and her fellow golfers get the event back on track for 2013.

And the race for the 2013 Michelob Ultra/Sports Authority Player of the Year will start in May.

It will be fun once again to watch how all of our local amateurs fair in events for the SCGA and California Amateur golf events, from handicapped championships to the California State Amateur.

SCGA Championships

Get your game ready, the early SCGA Championships will take place in March and April, but the entries into those events end in late February. All entries can be placed at the SCGA.org web site.

First on tap is the SCGA Foursomes Championship on Mar.4-5 at Red Hill CC in Rancho Cucamonga. There is no qualifying for this tournament, but players must both have indexes of 6.4 or less and entry is $270 for the 2-player team. Feb. 20 is the deadline.

On April 8-9 at The River and Ranch Courses at The Alisal in Solvang, the SCGA Amateur Net Championships will be played in four handicapped flights. Feb.23 is the deadline and entry is $90. There are 10 qualifying sites so the earlier you sign up the more likely you can get a closer site to participate at.

Apr.15-16 the SCGA Mid-Amateur Championship will be at Bermuda Dunes in Rancho Mirage. Players must have an index of 5.4 or less and be at least 25 years old by Apr.15 and not be a current member of any college golf team. Deadline is Feb.27 and there are five sites where qualifying will take place.

To find out more on these events and any upcoming SCGA events, just go the SCGA.org website or continue to read Tee to Green weekly for updates and information.

PGA Tour finally playing golf!

After extremely high winds cancelled play Friday thru Sunday, the PGA Tour finally got the 2013 season underway with 36 holes of play on Monday in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

The 30-player field completed play on Tuesday and the tour stays in Hawaii with the Sony Open this week before moving to La Quinta for the Humana Challenge Jan.17-20.

You can get advanced tickets for the Humana Challenge at www.HumanaChallenge.com. Daily tickets are $30 and you can obtain a tournament pass that will get you into any course on any day. Phil Mickelson will skip both of the Hawaii events and will start his 2013 year at the Humana. Defending Champion Mark Wilson is back and will face the likes of Brandt Snedeker and Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, the former "Big Break" winner and now 2-time PGA Tour champion!

Also in the field is Patrick Cantlay, the former No.1 ranked amateur, who missed out on PGA Tour qualifying at the Final Stage in December yet still finds himself in the field through a sponsor exemption!

The former Bob Hope Charity Classic tournament will also see a host of celebrities in the entertainment and sports worlds as they play with the pros at PGA West's Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses and at La Quinta CC.

Chip shots

Updated information (stats, etc.) on local players that are now competing in college golf (men and women) is always encouraged by Tee to Green as are golf related stories and information you believe that the readers would want to know about. Send the info to the e-mail address listed below and thanks again in advance!

Tee to Green appears weekly at Bakersfield.com/sports. You can reach Gautney at gautney@att.net

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