Although the crowd of about 200 spectators for the 9-hole exhibition wasn't as large as organizers hoped for, Saturday's Paula 4 Kids Celebrity Event at Lakewood Ranch proved a resounding success.
The daylong golf fest, which included an exhibition by world long-drive champion Gerry James and the modified scramble featuring Paula Creamer , Morgan Pressel and Casey Wittenberg , raised money for The First Tee of Sarasota/Manatee.
A morning scramble was held on the Lakewood Ranch's Cypress Links Course. The winning team with a gross score of 18-under-par 54 consisted of Frank Leahy , Mike Ohlman , Stephen Slocum and Doug Tippett .
The First Tee of Sarasota/Manatee program director Mary Ann Andrews-Modrak said plans are under way to hold the 2009 Paula 4 Kids fundraiser the same weekend in January.
At a dinner after the golf, Creamer gave an impassioned speech highlighting the need for a permanent First Tee facility in the area. Creamer became so emotional during her talk, her father Paul had to finish for her.
The 21-year-old LPGA star committed to donating $25,000 toward construction of a facility once a signed agreement is in place.
The First Tee of Sarasota/Manatee begins a six-week program Monday at Sarasota Golf Club. Hours are from 4-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday. For details, visit email@example.com
Manatee County Championship
A field of 86 players tees off Saturday and Sunday at River Wilderness Golf & Country Club in the Manatee County Open Golf Championship.
Among the top amateurs entered in the 36-hole event are Joey Lamielle , Brad Lanning , Scott Yow , John Hewlin , Stephen Slocum and Don Sisemore .
The individual stroke-play tournament begins at 7:30 a.m. There is a separate division for professionals. Billed as the "Rumble on the River," the event is open for spectator viewing.
Azinger off to a quick start
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger , who won the 2000 Sony Open in Hawaii, kicked off his 2008 PGA Tour campaign with a tie for 32nd last week at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Azinger earned $28,090, finishing 12 strokes behind winner K.J. Choi.
The Bradenton resident is competing on a major medical exemption after his 2007 season was curtailed by a back injury. If he earns $611,111 in 14 events (which combined with his earnings last year, would equal last year's No. 125 money-winner), Azinger will get an exemption through the rest of the year.
Here are the U.S. Ryder Cup standings through the Sony Open (Azinger will get four captain's picks, comprising a third of the squad for the Sept. 19-21 event):
Tiger Woods , 3,430.627; Jim Furyk , 1,751.553; Zach Johnson , 1,525.483; Steve Stricker , 1,311.767; Jerry Kelly , 885.631; Woody Austin , 842; Hunter Mahan , 752.291; Stewart Cink , 630.235; Joe Durant , 585.710; Troy Matteson , 547.910; David Toms , 518.178; Scott Verplank , 515.874; Ben Curtis , 426.879; Charles Howell III , 421.972; Tom Pernice Jr. , 403.659 www.thefirstteesarasota manatee.org or e-mail the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrik Sterner , a new arrival to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy-Bradenton from Rydeback, Sweden, won the Boys 16-18 Division of last month's Future Collegians World Tour Holiday Challenge at Tiburon in Naples with a 54-hole score of 222. The 15-year-old's final round was a 3-under-par 69, giving him a 5-stroke victory. His brother, 13-year-old Peter , finished ninth with a 238 total.
Kenny Chong of Bradenton finished third in last weekend's Florida Junior Tour's 13-15 Division at Haile Plantation Golf and Country Club in Gainesville. Chong shot a 70, two strokes behind winner Josh Tipton of Orlando.