This Cowboy at home on range

Amateur champ Uihlein in no rush to leave college

March 17, 2011|By Jeff Shain

It's spring break this week at Oklahoma State, giving U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein a chance to test his skills against PGA Tour competition. Just don't get accustomed to seeing him moving in those circles yet.

"Life's not really a sprint," Uihlein said Wednesday, his final practice day for the Transitions Championship. "It's more of a marathon."

Tell that to Matteo Manassero, four years younger than Uihlein but already with his name on a European Tour trophy. The 17-year-old Italian won the Castello Masters last fall, becoming the youngest winner in that circuit's history.

Their paths provide an interesting subplot to this week's stop. And even if Uihlein fares well on a layout where he twice played junior golf, it wouldn't change his mind about staying in school.

"I'm going to finish up," the OSU junior said. "Surprising, but I do love it there. I love all of the people and I love the school. If I could go more (than four years), I would."

Manassero thought about the college route once, but all that changed after he won the British Amateur at 16 and then tied for 13th at the British Open. Suddenly, college plans became impractical.

"I was still (lacking) two years of school, so I wouldn't have come to college before 19," he said. "It would have been too late."

Subdued response: Despite LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan's push that brought several marquee names on board for the Founders Cup's debut, the roster for this week's "play-for-free" event still wound up with a few holes.

Seven of the top 12 players in the world rankings are sitting out, including three of the "super six" that jockeyed for the No.1 ranking last season — Na Yeon Choi, Suzann Pettersen and Ai Miyazato.

Tap-in: Former Braves pitcher John Smoltz, one of baseball's better golfers in his playing days, will play the Nationwide Tour's South Georgia Classic next month on a sponsor invitation. Here's hoping he fares better than Jerry Rice, who struggled at a pair of Nationwide events last year. … Dinah Shore's name might not grace the LPGA's first major anymore, but it will on a pro-am to run concurrently on the other side of Mission Hills CC. The Dinah Shore Charity Pro-Am will be played at the club's Palmer course while the Kraft Nabisco plays its Saturday round.

— Jeff Shain

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