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Local student, 14, set for European PGA Tour event

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Domenico Geminiani soars the ball high into the sky with a slight draw.

His contact is solid with each strike off the driving range turf, reminiscent of a seasoned veteran.

Yet, Geminiani is just 14 years old and has already made a mark on American amateur golf.

So much so that the Bradenton resident and Edison Academics student is getting a chance to tee it up alongside touring professionals this week.

Geminiani accepted an invite to play in the BMW Italian Open in Turin, Italy, where he’ll be the youngest player ever to compete in a European PGA Tour event.

“I’m just going there to have fun, so no pressure,” said Geminiani, an Italian citizen by passport.

“I think the biggest thing he understands when he plays at each level is he gets a little more intrigued with how much more exactness is needed and more details with every shot,” coach Jacques Panet-Raymond said.

The accelerated pace with Geminiani’s game is a tribute to how he excels in most things he picks up.

For instance, he’s graduating from Edison Academics this year — that’s right, a high school diploma at age 14.

“He’s an accelerated student, and he’s just gifted,” said his father, Roberto Geminiani.

Believe it or not, golf wasn’t the reason Domenico came to America from the Caribbean after being born in Martinique and living mostly in St. Lucia.

Geminiani was 5 years old when he moved to the United States in 2001 so he and his brother Sergio could play tennis. However, he switched to golf in 2004 because he said it was more competitive.

Geminiani’s work ethic is undeniable.

He pounds balls on the range and crafts a deft touch around the greens. He even practices his putting on the carpet at home.

He says he’s made 601 consecutive 8-foot putts at home.

And with all the practice and playing, there is one constant force at Geminiani’s side — his father Roberto, who has surrounded Domenico with a team of experts in all facets of the game.

From the technical aspects of golf with lessons once a month from world-renowned teacher David Leadbetter and the coaching of Master PGA professionals Jacques and Andre Panet-Raymond a couple times a week, to the mental game with Art Emrich and fitness with Ian Harrison and Adam DiBella at City Fitness in Bradenton, no area is left uncovered.

There are a few golf courses that allow Domenico the practice facilities to sharpen his game, too, including The River Club, where he practiced last week prior to leaving for the Italian Open.

River Strand in Bradenton and Old Corkscrew in Naples have taken Domenico in as well.

Roberto, who teaches math at Edison Academics, also said the school and its principal, Randy Stewart, have been instrumental in Domenico’s success.

The Italian Open also marks Matteo Manassero’s pro debut. He grabbed headlines at this year’s Masters by making the cut as a 16 year old (he turned 17 last week).

So, with all eyes on Manassero’s every move, the pressure should ease a bit, right?

“(Domenico) appreciates what Manassero is going through and is one of his biggest supporters,” Jacques Panet-Raymond said. “And I think it does take the pressure off him a little bit. But again, if he goes and shoots a number the first day, Domenico, you can say bye-bye to all that other stuff. It’s going to be a whole different story.”

Jason Dill, sports writer, can be reached at 745-7017.