Golf Grapevine, October 23 2009

Golf writer Bob Benner

Congratulations to St. Louis‘ Tom O’Toole Jr., who continues to move up the U.S. Golf Association hierarchy. O’Toole will serve his third term on the USGA Executive Committee in 2010. The USGA has announced he has been nominated to serve as secretary of the 15-member Executive Committee.

College golf

    Illinois junior Scott Langley is ranked No. 2 in the country in the Golfweek/Sagarin computer rankings. Langley is a Parkway South graduate and the winner of several major amateur tournaments in the St. Louis area. He also has done well in a number of USGA events.

    He tied for third in the recent Windon Memorial Classic in Glencoe, Ill., where he finished two strokes behind co-medalists Brett Cairns of Kent State and Dan Obremski of Coastal Carolina. No. 7 Illinois pulled away for a six-shot victory over host Northwestern, claiming its second straight title in the event and second championship in three tournaments this fall. No. 1-ranked Tennessee finished seventh.

    “We’re never going to give up, no matter how far down we are,” Langley said. “We got more and more comfortable with the golf course as the tournament went on. Personally, I was able to shake off a tough start with some birdies down the stretch. In the end, we showed the depth and consistency of this team.”

    Illinois has two tournaments left this fall—the Isleworth Invitational, Oct. 25 to 27, and the Turtle Bay Collegiate Invitational in Kahuku, Hawaii, Nov. 2 to 4, where the Illini will face even more top teams.

USGA Men’s State Team Championship

    The Missouri team finished 21st in the 51-team field at the 2009 USGA Men’s State Team Championship held at the Country Club of St. Albans earlier this month.

    Skip Berkmeyer, Town and Country, shot 71-73-73 for a 217. Darren Lundgren, of Grover, shot 74-75-76 for a 225 and Brian Haskell, of St. Joseph, shot 75-77-74 for a 226.

    The Pennslyvania team of Nathan Smith, Sean Knapp and 2009 Marquette University first-team All-American Mike Van Sickle won the tournament. Van Sickle, who graduated in May and will turn pro sometime in the next few weeks, carded a 4-under-par 67 on the final day of play on the 7,150-yard, par-71 Lewis and Clark Course to lead Pennsylvania to a three-stroke victory over Kansas on what turned out to be a picture-perfect day for golf.

    Coupled with a 73 from the 47-year-old Knapp, Pennsylvania, which had never finished better than sixth in seven previous appearances, concluded the 54-hole competition at 9-under-par 417. Smith, 31, had a non-scoring 74 in the 3-count-2 format. Illinois finished third at 422, followed by Rhode Island and South Carolina sharing fourth place at 424. Berkmeyer entered the event fresh off his victory in the 85th Crump Cup at Pine Valley.

USGA Senior Men’s Championship

    Chesterfield’s Don Bliss finished in a tie for 45th place with a 150 at the recent 55th USGA Senior Amateur held at Beverly Country Club in Chicago.

    In the first round of match play, Bliss faced 14th-seeded Stewart Alexander, of Gainesville, Fla., and lost 2 and 1. Bliss, who turned 58 Sept. 5, was competing in his third consecutive Senior Amateur, which is for players 55 and up.

Golf book

    Golf For Kids, an instruction book by St. Louis native Bob Benner, came out in June. It is designed to assist young people who want to improve their golf game, compete better, or prepare for a school golf team, but it is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to improve his or her game, regardless of age.

    What was supposed to be a retirement hobby has instead become Benner’s passion. Upon retirement, this avid golfer has been known to spend 40-plus hours a week at area driving ranges, fulfilling a promise to see just how much he could improve his own game. “I love helping others who have a real interest in improving and who are willing to make the effort,“ Brenner says.

Until next time in 2010

    Well, today’s column wraps up another golf season. We‘ll be back in March looking at golf happenings in 2010. Until then, hit ‘em all straight. 

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