CHARLOTTE –  The Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s version of the Tour, is making a stop here this week with the inaugural Symetra Classic at Raintree Country Club.

Only three events remain on the 2012 tour schedule, and the top 10 money winners will earn an automatic ticket onto the LPGA Tour next year. Eight of the top 10 on the money list will play at Raintree, including Paolo Moreno, Victoria Elizabeth, Julia Bold and Jenny Suh, who rank second through fifth, respectively, in earnings this year.
Leading money winner Esther Choe is bypassing the event.

The Symetra Classic will be the first tour event for former Wake Forest All-American Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods. She recently won her first professional event in a Suncoast Ladies Series event in Florida.

The tournament, which will be Friday through Sunday, also will feature more than a dozen former college players with area ties.

In addition to pro-am events Wednesday and Thursday, players took part in packing snacks for children Tuesday for A Child’s Place, and several are scheduled to do volunteer work with Second Harvest Food Bank on Wednesday.

A daddy/daughter clinic with instructor Dana Rader and some professionals will be at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Raintree. Spots may be reserved by emailing tournament director Mike Fresina at

Tickets are $10 for adults starting Friday, with children under 15 admitted free with an adult. On Saturday, adults can get in free if they bring three non-perishable items. There will be free parking at Calvary Church on NC 51.

• Pinehurst Resort recently opened a massive, 18-hole putting course named Thistle Dhu, a nod to the famous Himalayas putting course in St. Andrews and recalling the first miniature golf course in the U.S., built in Pinehurst in 1919.

It’s an 18-hole course, open daily to resort guests at no charge. Sounds like a great way to spend some time, whether with your foursome, your family or your own shaky putting stroke.

• Several area courses that underwent summer conversions from bent grass greens to Bermuda have reopened, including Verdict Ridge, Rocky River, River Run and The Peninsula Club.

Expect several more area clubs – daily fee and private – to make the conversion over the next two years including Quail Hollow Club, host of the Wells Fargo Championship.

• In case you missed it, Monday was Arnold Palmer’s 83rd birthday.
We long ago came to grips with the fact Arnie can’t play like he once did, and we made our peace with it long before he did.

Not to diminish the green jackets he won or the way he won the 1960 U.S. Open or all the other things he did playing the game, Palmer’s greatest achievement was just being Arnie. He remains the model across all sports for the way an athlete should deal with his adoring public.

No entourages.

Just wink and a smile.

Perhaps no one has enjoyed the spotlight more than Palmer has, and perhaps we’ve never enjoyed anyone in the spotlight as much as we’ve enjoyed him.

• It’s been interesting to see how Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy seem to have taken to each other. Through the years, Woods has kept most of his rivals at a distance with a few exceptions, such as Steve Stricker. With McIlroy, it’s different.

It’s obvious Woods likes McIlroy and admires his game. One of the best things about the FedEx Cup playoffs is the way it’s put Woods and McIlroy together so often, a pairing that will continue at the Tour Championship next week at East Lake in Atlanta.

Woods’ self-motivation is well known, but McIlroy’s brilliance comes at an ideal time for Woods, who will no doubt use the challenge to continue pushing himself. Woods has played his golf in a bubble, churning on his own intensity, staring down everyone else.

In McIlroy’s case, Woods has shown a warmth rarely seen in the competitive realm. It complements both of them.

To see The Charlotte Observer’s photo slideshow, click here.

The Charlotte Observer, Sept. 12, 2012


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