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Healthy Bingham shoots and scores at Nationwide event
By: TOM SHERIDAN - Staff Writer

RANCHO CUCAMONGA -- It is amazing how much easier it is to strike the golf ball when it's not moving.

That is what Menifee's Brett Bingham is finding out after his recent struggles with vertigo. Last weekend, Bingham enjoyed his best tournament of the year on the Nationwide Tour, finishing in a tie for sixth at the Mark Christopher Charity Classic at Empire Lakes Country Club.

"I had to withdraw from tournaments in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year," said Bingham, who shot 10-under 274 and earned $15,650 at Empire Lakes. "Then I flew here and tried to deal with it. It comes and goes. I would play 12 or 13 good holes. Then I would be spinning out of control for six holes."

Bingham, 31, said that the medical condition, which originally struck when he was a freshman at the University of Nevada, has cleared up. His performance at the Mark Christopher Charity Classic was certainly encouraging for the native Canadian, from Red Deer, Alberta.

"We had a chance to do something good on the weekend," Bingham said. "I played good, gave myself chances. Some putts just didn't drop."

Bingham recorded three 68s and a 70. In the final round, there were only a handful of scores better than his 3-under 68. It was certainly an improvement on his performance in the spring and summer. At one point, he played ten consecutive Nationwide tournaments in which he either missed the cut or had to withdraw.

Curiously, his strong play in the Mark Christopher Charity Classic came after a significant equipment change.

"I put 13 brand new Cleveland clubs in the bag this week," Bingham said. "Figure that out."

That's about as easy as figuring out how a junior hockey player from Western Canada ended up a professional golfer living in Southern California. Bingham said he didn't take up golf until he was well into his teens.

"I entered a few junior golf tournaments and played well in two of them," he said. "I have no idea (how he ended up being recruited by Nevada). Are you kidding me? I was going to be a hockey player, man."

For the last several years, Bingham had lived with members of Bear Creek Country Club. He singled out PGA Tour member Tom Pernice Jr. as one of his benefactors. Recently, he bought a house in Menifee, but he still finds life in the Temecula Valley different from what he was used to growing up in the wide open spaces of the Great White North.

"You drive three miles and you're in three different cities," he said.

Golf and art clarification

The course in Sun City formerly known as Cherry Hills Golf Club has changed its name to California Golf and Art Country Club.

General Manager Lou Skovron explained why.

"The company that bought the golf course a year ago in May also has courses in Asia," Skovron said. "And at one of them, they have art spread out around the grounds. They like the name and wanted to try it here."

Golf and Art LLC is a South Korean-based company. It operates the Korean Golf and Art Village, a 54-hole complex in Seoul, whose theme combines golf with sculpture. The first piece planned here for the California Golf and Art Country Club is a 28-foot tall monument. Currently, the County of Riverside is considering the zoning implications of such a piece. Skovron said the company is looking to install other pieces around the course.

"It's been a little difficult," Skovron said. "People think we're an art gallery. They don't think it's a golf course."

In the meantime, don't be confused. Bring your clubs and leave your easels and paint brushes at home. The course is open for play.

Chips and putts

There were a handful of players who went straight from the California State Open in Temecula up to Rancho Cucamonga for the Mark Christopher Charity Classic. Eric Meichtry of Murrieta, who got in on a sponsor's exemption, shot 75-71----146 and missed the cut. But Byron Schlagenhauf, who played in the same group with Meichtry at the Cal State Open, where he missed the cut, put it together in the Nationwide Tour event, shooting 7-under 277 and finishing tied for 27th. Another player who missed the cut at the Cal State Open, Matthew Every, made it to the weekend in Rancho Cucamonga and finished 56th. Professional Golfers Career College alumni Brett Mathis shot 75-78 ----153 and missed the cut. ... Jim Furyk will join major champions Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy and Tiger Woods in the Grand Slam of Golf, Nov. 21-22 at Poipu Bay Golf Course in Kauai, Hawaii. Furyk is in the field ---- which is designed to bring together the four major champions ---- because Woods won two majors (British Open, PGA Championship). Furyk outpointed Ernie Els for the fourth spot by finishing tied for second at the U.S.

Open, fourth in the British Open, tied for 22nd at the Masters and tied for 29th at the PGA.

Read more at NC Times



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