Hannes Ronneblad had two choices.
The first choice was to stay in Sweden, shovel snow and look at the golf courses turn brown and then close down under layers of ice and snow. The second choice was to pack his bags, fly to Miami, enjoy the comfortably warm weather and play golf under the sun.
Ronneblad, naturally, took the second choice and is making it pay off quite nicely. He shot a 2-under-par 69 Thursday at the Miami Beach Golf Club for a three-day total of 8-under 204 to take the lead in the South Beach International Amateur by one shot over Ryan Burgess of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., who shot a 73, and Juan Pablo Hernandez of Mexico City, who shot a 69.
Making Ronneblad’s performance even more impressive is the fact this is his first international tournament. Some 15 minutes after finishing his round Thursday, he had not yet realized he was the leader of the South Beach event.
Ronneblad, 18, will finish the equivalent of his high school education in Sweden and then head to college at Texas Tech, where his Swedish accent will come face-to-face with Texas drawls.
“It will be a cultural shock,” Ronneblad admitted. “It will be very different.”
Nevertheless, he’s looking forward to it.
“There’s really no similarities, except that it’s quite windy in both places when you play golf.”
Ronneblad is also impressed, and enjoying, his first visit to Miami.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Miami is great. I’m really liking it.”
Ronneblad said he had no plans of celebrating Thursday’s round on South Beach, but might take a visit if he wins the tournament Friday.
“Maybe,” he said with a smile. “It depends on what my coach says.”
South Beach scores
1. Hannes Ronneblad, Sweden, 69-204 (-8); 2. Ryan Burgess, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. 73-205 (-7); Juan Pablo Hernandez, Mexico City, 69-205 (-7); 4. Tommy Mou, Taiwan, 70-206 (-6); Sebastian Soderberg, Sweden, 68-206 (-6); 6. Thomas Birdsey, Trophy Club, Texas, 70-207 (-5); Tyler Gann, Tomball, Texas 70-207 (-5); Hank Lebioda, Winter Springs, 66-207 (-5); Jay Vandeventer, Bristol, Va., 69-207 (-5).
DORAL PUBLIX JUNIOR
Team New England won the 2012 Dave Adamonis Cup, 19-17, on Doral’s Blue Monster course Friday by beating Team Florida. Jake Schuman shot a 73. Play begins Friday in the 16-18 and 14-15 flights of the Doral Publix Junior Classic.
Bill Van Smith
The Alabama Crimson Tide has rolled into South Florida.
No, not the football team playing in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 at Sun Life Stadium, but the men’s golf team at the Dixie Amateur.
A pair of Alabama golfers — Tom Lovelady and Trey Mullinax — each shot a third-round-best 9-under-par 63 at Heron Bay Golf Course to move to second and third, respectively, on the leaderboard.
Lovelady, a redshirt freshman for the Crimson Tide, is currently 11-under 204 through three rounds, and Mullinax, a junior, is two behind him at 9-under 206.
The field of more than 200 golfers played a round each at Heron Bay, Woodlands and Palm-Aire Tuesday through Thursday, and now the 73 players to make the cut will go at it for a fourth and final round Friday at Heron Bay.
Daniel Berger, a Florida State sophomore from Jupiter who has led the Dixie Amateur since day one, shot a 7-under 65 Thursday at Woodlands to build a nine-stroke lead over second-place Lovelady.