Gets advice from LPGA star Cristie Kerr
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Nortee Panpinyo could be the Tiger Woods of the future.
The 13-year-old Bensonhurst youngster will compete in a major tournament in Florida in December, thanks to the City Parks Foundation, which recently awarded him a scholarship.
Nortee will get to take part in the Doral Publix Junior Classic tournament, a premier event in the Miami for young golfers that brings out over 680 competitors from around the world to compete each year. Contestants not only have to be great golfers but they also have to demonstrate academic excellence in school.
"I'm really excited about it," Nortee told the Brooklyn Eagle on Sunday. "It will be great to meet and compete against people from all over."
City Parks Foundation will send Panpinyo, all expenses paid, to compete in the tournament. Panpinyo has been playing in the City Parks Foundation junior golf program since 2008.
The Trump Organization and Cristie Kerr, a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) star, provided support for the scholarship, according to City Parks Foundation.
The announcement of Panpinyo’s scholarship took place at the foundation’s annual golf tournament at the Dyker Beach Golf Course two weeks ago. City Parks Foundation sponsors CityParks Junior Golf Center, a school for young golfers on the Dyker course.
Nortee, who plays at the Junior Golf Center, said he was just five years old when he first picked up a golf club. "I don't know what it was that made me want to learn. But once I learned, I really like it and I kept on playing." Nortee will enter high school in September. He said he is hoping to attend college on a golf schoalrship. "That would be great," he said.
Tournament participants got the chance to play a hole with Kerr, a former U.S. Open champion.
The tournament featured contests and prizes from Dixon Golf, a selection of food provided by Brooklyn Flea and a raffle for a foursome at the Trump National Golf Course. The day concluded with a cocktail reception and awards ceremony.
New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver and City Parks Foundation President Alison Tocci were among those attending the tournament.
Nearly 60 golfers of all ages competed. The event raised more than $78,000 for the CityParks Golf, a program that provides free professional golf instruction to more than 3,500 kids, ages 6-17, in neighborhood parks throughout the city. Funds also go to support the CityParks Junior Golf Center.
Founded in 1989, City Parks Foundation is the only independent, nonprofit organization to offer park programs throughout the five boroughs. The foundation works in over 750 parks citywide, presenting a variety of free arts and sports programs.
Kerr can perhaps identify with Nortee's excitement about completing in the Doral Publix Junior Classic. Her ties to the tournament go back more than two decades. Kerr grew up playing in junior golf programs of the Miami-Dade area and is a past champion of the Doral event. The tournament’s past winners also include Rory McIlroy, who has dazzled the sports world by winning two major tournaments in a row, including the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Championship.
Article updated on Aug. 18 to include comments from Nortee Panpinyo.