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SUNDAY, JULY 9, 2006
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KYLE VEAZEY

Burningtree to host top junior girls

With last year's Women's Alabama Golf Association Junior Championship at Greystone and the 2007 edition slated for prestigious Shoal Creek, this year's edition was still being courted by another Birmingham-area club.

Fortunately for North Alabama girls golfers, Rita Baker and Burningtree Country Club made sure the Magic City wouldn't have a three-year monopoly on the event. Burningtree's bid won, and 54 junior girl golfers from across the state start their practice rounds today.

For that, she's thrilled.

"It's good to get the tournament out of Birmingham, because some of the girls don't travel as much around the state as others do for competitions," she said.

Three-round competition begins Monday in different age groups. Nine- and 10-year-olds will play a shortened nine holes, and 11- and 12-year-olds will play a full nine. Girls ages 13 through 18 will play the full 18 at Burningtree.

Jordan Hardy of Alexander City won the event the past two years, but has gone on to play collegiately at Birmingham-Southern. The local favorite has to be Suzanne Stanley, a Burningtree member and the 2005 state prep girls champion.

Decatur last had the event in 2000, when Decatur Country Club hosted it. DCC also had the event in 1983, but Burningtree has never hosted the junior tournament.

That's odd, too, for Burningtree, which has hosted its share of tournaments in recent years. Owner Tom Flowe says he recently passed on a chance to host an LPGA Futures Tour event when it asked for a three-year commitment and six figures of prize money.

  • Long and straight: Repar Golf owner and pro Ned Martin says he wants to find out who the best
    driver is in Decatur. This Saturday, he'll find out.

    Repar is hosting one of the 128 local qualifiers for the 2006 Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship. Qualifying begins at 10 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. One $20 bill gets you five golf balls, and you can keep giving Martin 20s as long as you wish.

    The competition works like this: Of your five golf balls, you're aiming for distance but trying to keep the ball within a 40-yard-wide grid. Points increase in 10-yard increments, and you get an extra point if you hit into the inner 20-yard zone, which is called the Exceptional Zone.

    If you keep them all inside the 40-yard grid, you get a bonus ball.

    First place at the local qualifier receives a Cobra Speed series
    driver, second place gets a shirt and a dozen Pinnacles, and third through fifth place receive a dozen Pinnacles.

    Martin says he expects a good turnout at the event, and plans to stage a putting contest at the facility's new nine-hole putting course.

  • Major status: Lost in the coverage of last weekend's Spirit of America Classic at Burningtree was the Alabama Golf Association's recent move of the Spirit into major status for the 2006. It means that the winners and top finishers at the Spirit get more AGA player points than in other tournaments.

    The Spirit joins three other prestigious state amateur events — the Country Club of Mobile's Labor Day Invitational, the Country Club of Birmingham National Invitational and the Greystone Invitational — as major invitationals.

  • Holes-in-one: Kudos to two players who made holes-in-one at Cedar Ridge. On July 1, Tina Hamilton aced the 150-yard fifth hole with a 5-wood. Her husband, Rick Hamilton, and playing partner Chris Odom witnessed it.

    On Independence Day, Calvin Cathcart aced the 156-yard fourth hole with a 7-iron. Gary Cathcart and Fred Lamm saw it.

    Also, Point Mallard Golf Course hosted an ace Monday. Steve Long sank his on the 163-yard 13th hole. He used a 2-iron, and his witnesses were Joey Elliott, Barkley Stone and Lindsey Stone.

  • Kyle Veazey Kyle Veazey
    DAILY Sports Writer

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