Community Sports

Tuesday, Feb 19 2013 04:11 PM

Robert Gautney: Patel set to begin pro golf career

By The Bakersfield Californian

Bhavik Patel will begin his professional golf career this week as he competes in the Panama Claro Open on the Panama Golf Club course in Panama City this Thursday through Sunday.

And when he said recently there were going to be really good players he'd be playing against every week on the Web.com Tour, he wasn't kidding.

The tour posted a "13 to watch in '13" on its website and no, Patel wasn't one of those 13. But when you consider how many former PGA Tour winners are in the field, then the term "good" takes on a whole new meaning.

Vaughn Taylor, Heath Slocum, Briny Baird and Jason Gore came to mind as former winners on the PGA Tour as I was reading the list of players in the field. Also the likes of Matthew Goggin (remember his collapse at Pebble from Tiger's charge a few years back?), Alex Cejka and defending Panama Claro Open champ Edward Loar keep adding to the list of players that Patel is going to have to beat week in and week out.

Throw in Patrick Cantlay and Danny Lee, both former U.S. Amateur winners and former world No.1 ranked amateurs, Arnold Palmer's grandson Sam Saunders and 45-uear-old Aussie Peter Lonard and Patel is going to have his work cut out for him.

But I think our local star is ready for the challenge. You don't get this far without something more than just a great golf game, a game that has taken him to wins in the SCGA Amateur, the California State Amateur and a semifinal run in a U.S. Amateur.

Patel has a will to compete and a desire to win. Maybe not quite like Michael Jordon or Kobe Bryant, or even Tiger Woods at this stage, but Patel is ready to succeed.

Patel will tee off on the 10th tee at 8:24 a.m. on Thursday in a group with Vince Covello and Will MacKinzie. The Web.com Tour website did not have any information on either player, the same as for Patel, so I am assuming it is their first Web.com Tour event as well.

Of note, Patel did compete in a Web.com Tour event last year in Sacramento where he missed the cut with rounds of 75-74 but that was when he was still an amateur.

This week I think Patel will make the cut and finish inside of the top 30.

Patel I'm sure has a higher goal than that for himself but that would be a solid start and anything better would be great! Go get'em Bhavik, we are all rootin' for ya!

PGA Tour fantasy golf

It's not too late to sign up for the 2013 PGA Tour Fantasy Golf league.

If you sign up this week, there is still more than enough tournaments to get into the hunt; but if you plan on having a shot to win, you will have to do your homework like I am sure many others are.

Otherwise, how can you explain that this past week's winner "Comanche" had John Merrick, Fredrick Jacobson, Bill Haas and Ernie Els as their four players for their weekly lineup? Merrick won the tournament and although he had played Riviera over 300 times (played at UCLA) he was a longshot at best. Jacobson (hadn't done much all year) and Haas were T-3 and Els was T-13. Comanche earned 848 points and now has 1,465 for the year.

Haas was the defending champ and Els always plays well at Riviera so those picks were pre-tournament solid picks.

Likewise, the team in second now is "fore-play" and they had Jacobson and Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott and Chris Kirk (who?). Schwartzel also finished T-3, Scott was T-10 and Kirk was T-33. It earned 396 points and has 1,295 on the year.

It's easy to sign up. Just go to the PGA Tour website and find the Fantasy Golf link, name your team and pick your four guys for the next event, the Honda Classic. The rules are simple. You can only pick a player 10 times during the year and points are based on how many Fed-Ex Cup Points players earn for the week.

You can have up to three teams per e-mail address, join other leagues or create your own and manage them from the site. Hey, if fantasy football and baseball have so many people playing, why can't golf be the same? Good Luck!

Chip shots

-- Haven't received any hole-in-one reports in a couple of months and I know players are making them out there. Remember to report it to the course pro, have them fill out some forms and send them off so you can get some free stuff and report it to Tee to Green so it came be printed in this column!

-- 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 in advance!

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

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