Originally created 06/07/01


The Asahi Ryokuken International Championship will provide more than 50,000 free tickets for fans 15 and younger, tournament officials announced this week.

The LPGA tournament is scheduled for Sept. 20-23 at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club in Edgefield County.

A ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Augusta-Richmond County commission chambers to unveil the specially designed tickets.

Youths who use the free tickets must be accompanied by an adult with a paid admission, tournament director Steve Storm said Wednesday.

"It's a big deal for kids to have a ticket," Storm said. "We thought this would be a good way to expose the public to the tournament."

The giveaway will start with 10,000 tickets earmarked for Richmond and Columbia counties. The tickets will be distributed through school systems and recreation departments this summer and at the start of the school year.

Free tickets for children are also to be distributed in Aiken and Edgefield counties and in cities elsewhere in Georgia and South Carolina.

Premium tickets for the tournament are available for $150 and $1,000 apiece, but general ticket information has not been released.

For more information, contact the tournament office at 261-4653.

The first-year Augusta State women's team has signed three more players, including England's Nicky Perry, a semifinalist in the 2000 English Girls Championship. The other signees are Ashley Phillips of Swansea, Ill., and Lauren Smith of Fort Mill (S.C.) High School. Phillips was the medalist in the Illinois high school regional and Smith was a fourth-place finish in the South Carolina High School Association state championship. They join Liza Klein, Casey Manion and Kelly McGurk as signees.

NBC golf commentator Gary Koch sank a 12-foot birdie putt to win a playoff following the rain-delayed final round of the U.S. Open regional qualifier in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, winning one of four spots in next week's championship.

Jason Dufner and Jeff Barlow tied for medalist honors, each shooting 4-under- par 140s for two round at Old Memorial Golf Club to qualify for the Open, starting at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa next Thursday.

Koch, who had six career PGA Tour wins before becoming a broadcaster, shot a 1-under 143, as did Tour regular Donnie Hammond and Steve Pleis, creating a three-way tie for the final two slots.

Hephzibah High School will hold its Second Annual Pigskin Classic at Pointe South Golf Course Saturday morning at 11 a.m. The cost is $55 per person and proceeds from the tournament go to benefit the football program at Hephzibah High. For more information, call Bill Navas at (706) 592-2089 or at (803) 819-9778.

BASEBALL: Former North Augusta standout Bobby White was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 39th round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft on Wednesday.

A left-handed pitcher who pitched for Spartanburg Methodist Junior College this season, White was The Augusta Chronicle's South Carolina baseball player of year last season at North Augusta High School.

White was traveling to Rhode Island Wednesday night to play in a summer wooden bat league.

Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt says he is not optimistic about Cole Barthel joining the Razorbacks because the Decatur, Ala., product was picked high in the major league baseball draft.

Barthel, a third baseman and a quarterback, was chosen in the second round Tuesday by the Atlanta Braves. He was the No. 73 player chosen - highest among more than a half-dozen players with Arkansas connections.

Barthel, who was expected to compete for a backup role at quarterback in the fall, said baseball had always been his favorite sport.

"It's frustrating to lose a guy, if we do lose him, after spending so much time and effort recruiting him," Nutt said. "All indications we had was that he'd be a much lower pick. I'm shocked.

"But getting drafted that high is a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Nutt said. "With the kind of money they're going to throw at him, I wouldn't blame him if he signed. If he were my son, I'd probably tell him to go ahead and take the money."

AUTO RACING: Augusta's Paul Brewer, the winner of his class in the PRO-IT series at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C., two weeks ago, is entered in this week's Zaxby's PRO-IT Series at Road Atlanta. Qualifying begins Saturday at 8 a.m.


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