Lakewood Ranch alum Ericka Schneider is returning to Manatee County to make her professional debut.
The fifth-year Ole Miss senior was given one of two sponsor exemptions for the LPGA Symetra Tour's Guardian Retirement Championship scheduled for Sara Bay Country Club in southern Manatee County at the end of April.
"I was on the phone with my dad when I got the confirmation that I got in the field, and I literally screamed," Schneider said in a news release. "I guess on a scale of one to 10, my excitement level was an 11."
Schneider has a successful history at Sara Bay. As a high schooler, she captured the prestigious Donald Ross Invitational.
"It's always exciting when you get a chance to play in your hometown because people that have always wanted to come watch me play in a tournament can come now," Schneider said. "This one is in my hometown and it's on a weekend, so it's a win-win."
The tournament is scheduled for April 25-27. The other sponsor exemption was given to Port St. Lucie's Katerina Luttner, who plays golf at Ole Miss.
On the LPGA Tour this week, Bradenton golfers are in the field for the JTBC Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix.
Bradenton resident Jaclyn Sweeney tees off at 9:30 a.m. off No. 10 in Thursday's first round. Other local golfers include Jodi Ewart Shadoff (10 a.m. tee time off No. 1), Jessica Korda (10 a.m. tee time off No. 10) and Paula Creamer (10:10 a.m. tee time off No. 10).
Recently at Greens of Manatee, Jean Andre aced the 12th hole with a 9-iron. Witness was Sylvain Gilbert.
On Feb. 2 at River Strand, Elaine Magson aced the 109-yard 5th hole on the Tributary Course with a 7-iron. Witnesses were A. Magson, Bob Charlson and Barb Charlson.
Recently at Greens of Manatee, Glenn Spruetz aced the 5th hole with a wedge. Witness was Stan Buyze.
On Feb. 17 at Terra Ceia Bay, Marlene Braun aced the 92-yard 11th hole with a 5-wood. Witnesses were Richard Braun, Robert Weirtz and Jerry B.
On Feb. 20 at River Run, Floyd Culbreath aced the 120-yard 5th hole with an 8-iron. Witnesses were Dan Finch, John Abmayer and Alan Hemmersbach.
On March 4 at University Park, Erv Heyde aced the 160-yard 22nd hole with a 5-iron. Witnesses were John Gillies, Jim Walsch and Peter MC.
On March 5 at Peridia, Chet Pieczynski aced the 121-yard 16th hole with a 7-iron. Witness was Roland Avery.
On March 5 at University Park, Karl Ausserlechner aced the 140-yard 5th hole with an 8-iron. Witnesses were Victor Alen and Don McGrath.
Recently at Greens of Manatee, Joan Bjorne aced the 17th hole with a 3-hybrid. Witnesses were Bob Hager and Gregg Bjorne.
On March 5 at Peridia, Bart Philpott aced the 148-yard 14th hole with a 5-wood. Witnesses were Lew Williams, Jim Gorman and Jack Jacobs.
-- Jason Dill,Herald sports writer