Renner in strong position for PGA Tour
Plainville’s Jim Renner (inset) played his first tournament as a professional golfer in 2007, pocketing $3,600 after finishing eighth at a New England PGA event at the Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth.
“I had just graduated from Johnson & Wales University and I thought I was rich,” said the 29-year-old Renner, who in 2011 earned a tad more money in his only season on the PGA Tour — $392,945.
He ranked 181st on the money list that year; however, the cutoff for maintaining PGA eligibility is 125th.
Now two years removed from professional golf’s biggest stage, Renner has put himself in prime position for a return.
Earlier this month he ranked 12th in earnings ($143,315) on the developmental Web.com Tour, whose top 25 money winners automatically gain PGA Tour status for 2014.
“You can never beat the game of golf, so you live and learn. It’s a constant grind and a challenge, and the pressure is all on you,’’ said Renner last week as he prepared for another Web.com event, the Utah Championships at Willow Creek Country Club in Sandy, Utah. “But when you put in the hard work and meet that challenge, it’s a great and enjoyable feeling.’’
A former Massachusetts Amateur runner-up and winner of the Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island Opens, Renner put in that hard work over the winter with Adam Schriber, teaching pro at Kingsley Country Club in Kingsley, Mich..
“I’ve known Adam for a long time and we worked on all phases of my game,” said Renner. “Everything started clicking and I’ve made a lot of progress with my swing. I’m feeling more confident because of those sessions and because I know the courses better after playing many of them on the Web.com Tour last year.’’
Schriber said Renner is ready to take the next step . “Our goal was to make his bad shots better by creating more room for error, and I think his technique has improved dramatically.’’
Renner’s veteran caddy, San Diego native Curt Peterson, has also been a steadying influence.
“We’re both kind of laid back, so we’re a good fit,’’ said Renner, far from satisfied after earning $99,500 last year .
“I had a few question marks last year, but now my game is as good as it’s ever been on a day-in, day-out basis,’’ added Renner, the MIAA state champion his senior year at Bishop Feehan High now affiliated with Highland Country Club in Attleboro.
Renner’s best finish this season was second at the Colombia Championship in Bogota. His PGA Tour high-water mark was fourth at the Viking Classic two years ago this week.
“Playing the PGA Tour puts you under the microscope, something I wasn’t accustomed to,” said Renner. “But I just went about my business and tried to get as much out of the experience, hopefully for the better. I’ve always been pretty determined to get to the next level and to expect more of myself, but there are times when you have to be patient.
“Obviously there are going to be ups and downs, but I’m heading in the right direction.’’
Summer ball boosts ex-Milford hurler
Jack Murray, who appeared in 19 games with one start this spring as a junior at Rollins College in Florida, has put together a solid summer on the mound with the Ocean State Waves of the New England Collegiate Baseball League
The former Milford High three-sport athlete was 1-1 with a save in five games, three as a starter, and had a 1.84 earned run average with 12 strikeouts in 14⅔ innings. The Waves, who play out of South Kingstown, R.I., were 16-10 and tied for first in the Eastern Division with defending champ Newport.
Murray, a lefthander, made a career-high 28 relief appearances as a sophomore at Rollins, in Winter Park, Fla. Before college, he recorded a perfect game against Clinton for the Milford American Legion squad, and also hurled no-hitters for Milford High his sophomore and senior years.
His Rollins teammates this spring included red-shirt sophomore infielder Brett Flutie (Natick High) and freshman pitchers Cole Tibbetts (Dover-Sherborn) and Ryan McDonald (Acton-Boxborough Regional).
“Jack’s an extremely mature and committed young man who started a few games for us when we were short there, and then transitioned to the bullpen and has been dominant in that role,” said Ocean State manager/pitching coach Phil Davidson. “He’s throws around 90 or 91 and he’s deceptive because the ball explodes out of his hand. He’s kept us in several games, we can use him as a setup man or closer, and he’s been better than advertised. We’re happy Rollins sent him to us.’’
Sylvia named captain at Mass. Maritime
Rising senior Michael Sylvia, a graduate of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High, has been appointed one of four football captains at Massachusetts Maritime Academy by head coach Jeremy Cameron.
A Dual County League All-Star in high school, Sylvia has been a part of three consecutive winning seasons at the academy, which will play a 10-game schedule in the reconstituted nine-team Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Sylvia, limited to four games last season because of injury, registered a career-high 29 tackles as a sophomore defensive back and added three interceptions. He has 53 total tackles (38 solo) in 19 career games for the Buccaneers.
“Michael provides solid, steady play for us, and his full return this season will give us great experience in the defensive backfield,’’ said Cameron. “The example he sets, on and off the field, is what we want everyone in our program to emulate.’’