LPGA Tour player Jaclyn Sweeney tunes up on West Florida Golf Tour

LPGA Tour player slugs it out on WFGT before start of '14 season

jdill@bradenton.comJanuary 16, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- In the past two years, Jaclyn Sweeney honed her golf game on the LPGA Symetra Tour.

Now the Bradenton resident is preparing for the 2014 LPGA Tour season with some competitive golf on the West Florida Golf Tour.

Sweeney played the WFGT's event at Sara Bay Country Club last week and is competing in the two-day Stableford tournament held at Lakewood Ranch Country Club's Royal Lakes course this week.

The tournament started Wednesday and concludes Thursday.

Playing against male mini-tour pros gives Sweeney competition ahead of her second stint on the LPGA Tour. She earned enough money during her rookie year on tour to gain automatic entry onto the LPGA Tour for 2014.

"I think the two years on the Symetra Tour really, really helped me," Sweeney said. "Getting two wins out there and getting my card the way I did last year was a little stressful, but I think the experience of playing out on the developmental tour and playing week in and week out and learning how to grind it out really helped me."

Sweeney, though, wasn't just about golf last year.

She also went to Arizona State to complete her bachelor's degree in communications, which she earned in December.

But having the extra commitments didn't damper

Sweeney's game. It forced her to focus more on golf when she had the time.

And the result was more than $33,000 in earnings, which netted her the 10th and final spot for an automatic exemption by $114.

That also meant a free trip past LPGA Tour Q-School.

"I've been working out a lot since the offseason to try and build a little bit of strength for the first two months," Sweeney said. "I think that it's helping my ball speed now, and my clubhead speed definitely is starting to pay off."

Sweeney, who played the LPGA Tour in 2011, said her goals for this season include playing in all four majors and earning six figures on the course among other things.

That journey begins Jan. 23 in the Bahamas when the LPGA Tour opens its season.

Prepping for that has meant tournament golf on the WFGT the past two weeks as Sweeney adapts to new clubs for the 2014 season.

"It shows that no matter what type of player you are, we have a spot for you," WFGT tournament director Christian Bartolacci said. "It's a chance for her to play in some really good competition and prepare for what she's ultimately trying to do, which is be good on the LPGA Tour."

Bartolacci watched Sweeney a bit during Wednesday's first round, where she posted a 73 and 0 points in the Stableford system.

"She's got the talent with the short game, which is exactly what most women golfers need," Bartolacci said. "They need to be really good around the greens, and she is that. She's a great putter and ... when I set the pins the day before the event; she's always out there working. And she seems like the type of girl that is not going to get outworked."

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