N.M. Competition Kicks Up a Notch 0 6

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) Sept. 23, 2012 — Did it just get tougher to win here? That’s what local players are asking as the dust settles on the Santa Ana Star Casino New Mexico Open at Santa Ana Golf Club and the inaugural Land of Enchantment Open at Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club.

New Mexico State University star Tim Madigan won wire-to-wire at Santa Ana, shooting 20-under and leaving most of the  field in the dust,to mark an impressive start to his professional career.

“It was basically a mini-tour event,” Taos Country Club’s Carville Bourg said of the New Mexico Open, where a score of local players and club professionals failed to make the cut.

Jon Jaress, director of Golf at Angel Fire Resort, said he was surprised by the quality of play at his first New Mexico Open.  “I thought I played well and had a chance, but that changed as the scores came in and the cut line got lower and lower,” he said.

At Paa-Ko, Chad Ginn of Tylertown, Miss., shot 10 under to win the Land of Enchantment Open. In day 1 of the four-day event, Chris Devlin of Ireland shot 65, besting by two strokes the previous course record held by former Lobo Nick Geyer.

The Paa-Ko event, part of the National Professional Golf Tour organized by Arnold Palmer Golf Management, became the richest event in the state with a guaranteed $130,000 purse. Top finishers gained points toward the tour’s national championship in Tuscon in November.

U.S. Open qualifier Matt Edwards of Las Cruces was the top New Mexico finisher, tying for 10th at 2 under. Steve Saunders of Albuquerque tied for 41st at 13 over. Missing the cut were local players Jesse Barnsley and Wil Collins.

In other news …

Madigan celebrated his New Mexico Open win by returning to NMSU to make up classes missed during his senior year of competitive golf.

Father-caddie Steve Madigan said his son turned down a spot at a Nationwide Tour event in Midland to return to the books. “There’s more pro golf ahead, but he needed to get that degree finished,” Steve Madigan said.

Here’s what he said about his son’s play at the New Mexico Open:

“I have never seen him hit the ball so good. He was hitting it right at the target almost every time. And the putting, wow is all I can say. We had just switched over, or should I say, back to the belly putter for this tournament.

“He always seem to putt well with the belly out at Santa Ana and man did he putt well. Each of the rounds his putting was in the 20-something putts per round and he hit a lot of greens.

“We made two bogies total and one was on the drivable par 4 9th. We thought that we could just go up and take two clubs since he cleared the hazard, but they changed it over to yellow from red and had to go back to the drop at 170 and almost made the par putt.”

***

LPGA Tour wiunner Lexi Thompson will not attend Q School, even though her LPGA Tour win at age 16, the youngest ever, doesn’t guarantee her an LPGA Tour card next year, GolfWeek’s Sean Martin reports.

GolfWeek’s Alex Miceli reports that the World Anti-doping Agency has decided to monitor nicotine use by professional golfers. “It is not WADA’s intention to target smokers, rather to monitor the effects nicotine can have on performance when taken in oral tobacco products such as snus,” Terence O’Rorke, a spokesman for the WADA, told Golfweek in an e-mail. “The sole purpose (of including nicotine on the monitoring list) is to collect data on the potential abuse of nicotine as a performance enhancer.”

— Dan Vukelich

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Sierra Del Rio to Shutter for Two Months 0 30

Sierra del Rio Golf Course

Sierra Del Rio Golf Course, which restricted play in December to Thursday through Sunday only, will close for two months after the New Year.

The temporary closure of the 18-hole Elephant Butte golf course was announced in an email Sunday. The golf course’s food and beverage operation, also will close. Plans are to reopen on March 1, the course said.

“The course is in reasonably good condition but we want it to be in the best shape possible when we reopen,” a golf shop employee said Sunday. Maintenance crews will devote the downtime to earth and drainage work to repair damage to native areas off the playing surfaces caused by heavy rains in September, the employee said.

Sierra Del Rio, a Richard Phelps design, is the centerpiece of a retirement- and second-home community near the Rio Grande in Southern New Mexico. Its director of golf is Guy Wimberly, who retired to Elephant Butte after decades running Arroyo Del Oso Golf Course in Albuquerque. Wimberly had no comment on the closure on Sunday.

Sierra Del Rio reduced playing days earlier this month. Winter is typically playable in Southern New Mexico, where daily highs reach into the 50s and 60s.

Sierra Del Rio is part of the Turtleback Mountain Resort. It opened in 2007 on the footprint of the old Oasis Golf Resort and is the nearest golf course to Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic plans to fly tourists to the edge of space.

The renovated course and new homes built near it provided a boost to the local economy, but homebuilding and rounds played suffered following the 2008 housing collapse.

Dan Vukelich is editor of NewMexicoGolfNews.com. Reach him at dan@newmexicogolfnews.com.