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Southwest Florida golf column: Fort Myers' George McNeill overcoming lower-back problems

Naples Daily News, Fla. — Greg Hardwig Naples Daily News, Fla.

Nov. 14--George McNeill is going to have to take a different stance to get back to the PGA Tour. Literally.

The Fort Myers tour pro, who had a shoulder problem early in the year, has been battling lower-back issues.

"They're getting better," he said at the Immokalee Charity Classic Pro-Am on Monday at The Old Collier Golf Club where he was one of 26 tour pros. "My lower back got really bad kind of middle of the year.It seems like I've kind of figured it out, basically how to deal with it."

And that means focusing a lot on everything with his back.

"I'm changing the way I stand," he said. "I'm changing the way I address the ball. I'm changing the way I do my posture. Everything. It's taken a lot of pressure off my back, but I have to really think about it. Even right now standing here when I'm talking to you, this is what I'm doing. It takes a lot of work."

McNeill only played in six events on the 2016-17 schedule, missing five cuts. But he got an unexpected chance to try his new back approach a couple of weeks ago at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.

"I'd played maybe four rounds in three months," he said. "I didn't even know I was in the tournament (he was fifth alternate). They called me Tuesday afternoon aand said 'You're in.' I go 'In what?' They said 'The tournament.' I said 'Where is it?'"

So McNeill flew up Tuesday night, squeezed in nine holes before the pro-am, and went out and made the cut. He tied for 43rd.

"I never worked so hard on my posture, on the way I was walking, standing -- very aware of my body," he said. "I was sore every day. I've been working that hard."

McNeill, 42, hopes his body will cooperate, and then see how much he can play.

"It's going to take a lot of work," he said. "Hopefully it'll be something that I can deal with from now until I decide I don't want to play golf anymore, which could be next year or cit could be 20 years. Who knows? As long as my body's healthy, I'll keep wanting to play."

Southwest Florida EWGA: The local chapter of the Executive Women's Golf Association had its kickoff event on Nov. 6 at Cypress Woods.

Incoming president Rosemary Christie welcomed the new board members and volunteers for the upcoming year, and thanked the outgoing board and volunteers.

Six new members joined EWGA and our Chapter: Peggy Keighley, Natalie Sandel, Teresa Sierak, Meredith Blinn, Suzanne Rivara and Kathleen Linsenmaier. A member from another EWGA chapter, Nancy Riesz, also joined the Southwest Florida Chapter.

Jane Geddes, the new CEO of the EWGA who is a two-time former major champion and golf executive, attended the tournament.

The chapter is at 222 members and was started in 1999.

Fed Cup VIII: The Jewish Federation of Collier County presents the tournament on Sunday, Dec. 17 at TwinEagles. There will be a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The event benefits young Jewish children and teens to experience Jewish summer camp and travel to Israel.

For more information about the event and hole sponsorship, contact Kevin Aizenshtat at kevin@gcipnaples.com or 239 777-1451.

Impact Zone Golf: Holiday camps, 2:30 to 5:30 on Nov. 24-26, Dec. 27-29 and Jan. 2-4. The three-day camps are for juniors ages 7-18. Cost is $299 for all three days or $125 per day.

SFPGA Prep Tour: Cape Coral's Gregory Moore tied for 18th in the Boys 13-18 Division at Jonathans Landing in Jupiter on Sunday. Moore shot 50-43/93.

SFPGA Junior Tour: Naples' Remi Chartier finished 10th in the Don Law Golf Academy Junior Championship in Weston last weekend. Chartier shot 72-78/150.

Reece Kyle of Fort Myers was 13th (78-76/154), Joey Burke of Naples was 24th (80-78/158) and Chad Tracy of Naples was 31st (79-83/162).

Kim Egozi of Bonita Springs was 10th in the Girls 13-18s, shooting 79-80/159. Kelli Kragh of Estero was 18th (85-84/169).

Patrick Solis Charity Classic: The 19th annual event, benefiting Special Olympics Florida -- Collier County, will be held at The Club at Olde Cypress on Saturday. The scramble has a 9 a.m. shotgun start.

This year's event will feature former NBA player Mark Strickland, who played for the Miami Heat and was a player and coach for several other teams during his basketball career. Strickland will be on the 14th hole during the tournament, and golfers can make a donation to have him take a shot for them.

The entry fee for the tournament is $500 per foursome. To register, call 239-775-1991 or email spalmer@specialolympicscollier.org.

Alico Family Golf: Women's Golf Day, a free event, will be Saturday form 1 to 4 p.m. Food and networking will be from 1 to 1:45 p.m., with a clinic and 9-hole short course play from 3 to 4 p.m.

Golfing For Scholars Tournament: The inaugural event, held Nov. 10 at Bentley Village, raised $19,300 for the Bentley Village Foundation, a resident-created nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for employees and their family dependents.

Members of the winning team in the 18-hole scramble event were: Jason Gilbert, Steve Markel, Josh Espinosa, and Logan Curti. Members of the second-place team were: Rick Huttenlocher, Alice Taylor, Vern Kaskey and Karen Rosenstein. Hope Calabrese, Norma Webb, Nancy O'Brien and Natalie Knecht placed third.

SFPGA Senior Player of the Year: PGA Life Member Mark Mielke has been named the 2017 South Florida PGA Senior Player of the Year. Mielke earned 1,282.75 total points, including winning the Naples Beach Club Senior Open last month. Mielke gets a spot in the qualifier for the PGA Champions Tour's Boca Raton Regional Hospital Championship or the Chubb Classic in Naples.

To submit an item, send an email to ghardwig@naplesnews.com.

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