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Brunswick County’s Dalton Gore is going to California on Sunday to play in the Walmart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, a Champions Tour event televised by The Golf Channel.
Gore is a senior at South Brunswick High School and plays No. 1 on its men’s golf team. He is an Eagle Level participant in The First Tee of Brunswick County.
This is Gore’s second trip to Pebble Beach. In 2008, with Jay Haas as his partner, Gore qualified for the Sunday finals and his team finished 16th.
Walt Stachura of Ocean Ridge was his caddie last year and will repeat that job.
“It has already been a blast,” Gore said. “The qualifying event took place in Rogers, Arkansas, where the home offices of Walmart are located. I stayed with Tom Schoewe, the chief financial officer of Walmart, in his 35,000 square-foot home on the eighth green of the Pinnacle Golf Club.”
While staying with Schoewe, Dalton rode to the practice area in his private golf cart and was driven around in his 2009 Corvette. Peter Jacobsen, who is Schoewe’s friend, came over to visit.
“Mr. Jacobsen played his guitar while we sat around and talked,” Gore said. “I played Wii golf with Mr. Schoewe. We had breakfast at a place called Mimi’s. They treated me really great.”
Seventy First Tee participants are selected through a combination of golf skills, life skills, interviews and personal essays. In the two qualifying rounds shot at Shadow Valley Country Club, Gore shot a 72-81, the second best score.
Stachura is Gore’s First Tee Eagle coach and thinks Dalton will do well in the tournament this year.
“I’ve been working with Dalton for two and one-half years, and he continues to mature as a player and a young man,” Stachura said. “He knows where he wants to go and is working towards those goals. Last year on the plane ride home, he turned to me and said ‘We’re going back next year.’ He set that as his goal, and here we are, going back to Pebble Beach.
“Dalton has increased his distance; his drives now go between 290 and 300 on the average, with some shots blazing out to the 340 mark. His irons have improved 5 to 10 yards per club, and he’s more accurate now,” Stachura said.
Caddie and player agree on two goals: qualify for the Sunday finals and finish better than 16th.
Gene Doane coaches the South Brunswick golf teams and has been working with Dalton for many years.
“Dalton had a great summer,” Doane said. “He played in many junior events and shot a 66-81 at Mid Pines and Pine Needles in Pinehurst a few weeks ago. He loved the 66, but lost it a little on the second day. Sometimes, he loosens his grip at the top of his swing, and I reminded him about that. I think he’s got it together and will do well at Pebble Beach.
“Basically, he’s a good kid and a good student. He helps me coach the girls’ team at South and practices a lot at No More Mulligans Driving Range. I’m very proud of him.”
The Walmart First Tee Open begins Monday with a practice round. On Tuesday, there is another practice round and that evening, at the pairings party, Gore will learn who his playing partner will be. More practice rounds on Wednesday and Thursday, then the tournament begins Sept. 4. Participants include Champions Tour players, First Tee players and amateurs.
Play is conducted at the Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Del Monte Golf Course. After the Friday and Saturday rounds, the top 78 professionals, the 22 low pro-junior teams and 10 amateur teams move into the Sunday finals, which will be played at Pebble Beach.
The next low 28 amateur teams and the 56 juniors who did not make the cut will play at Del Monte on Sunday in the Core Values Cup.
The Golf Channel will cover all three days of competition. For pairings and other information, visit the Web site of The First Tee (www.thefirsttee.org) or visit PGA Tour.com and look under Champions Tour events.
ELSA BONSTEIN is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at email@example.com.