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East County Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 8 years ago

Junior golfer aims for perfection

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — Standing with his feet slightly apart, 13-year-old Domenico Geminiani grips his putter, tilts his head down and swings ever so slightly.

He takes a step back and watches as the ball slowly makes its way down the putting green. He smiles as the ball precisely rolls into the hole — one putt down and only 354 more to go.

The goal is simple: to see how many consecutive putts he can make with the hopes of breaking his previous record of 354. Geminiani doesn’t take his eyes off the putting green in his living room for the next 80 minutes, sinking putt after putt until he reaches 601.

Geminiani finally puts his club down and walks away from the putting green — not because he missed a putt, but because it’s his bedtime.

If it were up to him he would’ve kept right on putting.

To some it may seem a bit redundant, but to Geminiani, it’s the perfect way to improve his game while fueling his competitive spirit at the same time.

“I always want to win no matter what — even if I only play two holes,” said Geminiani, a junior at Edison Academics.

Geminiani’s hard work and dedication paid off earlier this month when he won the boys 13-15 division of the Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club tournament Nov. 7-8 in Ocala. It was Geminiani’s second Florida Junior Tour win of the season.

Geminiani followed his victory with back-to-back second-place finishes in the boys 16-18 division of the Inverrary Country Club Tournament Nov. 14-15 in Lauderhill and the Kingsway Country Club Tournament Nov. 27-29 in Lake Suzy.

Teeing off
A native of Martinique, Geminiani moved from St. Lucia to Florida in 2001 with his father Roberto and his older brother Sergio, 17. The two brothers, avid tennis players at the time, began competing in local tennis tournaments. But in 2004 at age 8, Domenico Geminiani picked up his first golf club after watching his older brother give up tennis to play golf.

Domenico Geminiani spent a year competing in both tennis and golf tournaments before focusing his attention solely on golf.

“It was pretty simple to (learn),” Domenico Geminiani said. “I was very competitive, so I picked it up pretty fast.”

Domenico Geminiani competed in his first golf tournament in January 2004, where he finished third. He followed with a victory in his second tournament and hasn’t looked back since, winning more than 20 local, national and international tournaments, including four Italian Championships, four Tournament of Champions Greater Tampa Junior Championships and two Sarasota Junior Championships, among numerous others.

Today, he practices six days a week at River Club Golf Course and River Strand, spending three to four hours a day out on the course. Every summer, Domenico Geminiani returns to Italy to compete in tournaments.

“This is a game where you never reach a certain point where you can say ‘OK now I’m good,’” Roberto Geminiani said. “You can never be ready because you can improve every time (you step on the course).”

Additionally, Domenico Geminiani takes lessons once a week with Braden River High girls golf coach and PGA Professional Jacques Panet-Raymond and Panet-Raymond’s brother, Andre.

“He’s just so advanced right now,” Jacques Panet-Raymond said. “He’s so mentally and physically mature that it’s fun to work with him. He’s got serious goals, and he’s so self-driven that sometimes it’s hard to remember his age.”

Andre Panet-Raymond agreed.

“He has enough knowledge to be able to teach (others),” he said. “He (soaks) everything up just like a sponge.”

Future star
Later this month, Domenico Geminiani will compete in the Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic in Miami, which is recognized as one of the premier junior golf tournaments, drawing nearly 700 junior golfers from across the world each year. Domenico Geminiani won the tournament in 2004 and 2007.

“Basically I like competing with other people around the world to see where I am and to see what level I’m on,” Domenico Geminiani said.

Domenico Geminiani will be one of the favorites to win the tournament. The 13-year-old is currently ranked No. 3 in the United States in the U13 division and No. 1 in Italy in the U14 and U16 division.

He may only be 13 years old, but Domenico Geminiani already has his sights set on the future, which he hopes will one day include the PGA Tour.

“I want to go professional if I’m good enough,” Domenico Geminiani said. “The PGA tour — that’s basically the top level.”

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].


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