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After chasing his golf dream, Jonathan Pannone is living another one at the RI Amateur

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After chasing his golf dream, Jonathan Pannone is living another one at the RI Amateur


WARWICK — Jonathan Pannone is living his dream. It just took him some time to realize it.

Pannone, who was raised in East Greenwich, always wanted to find out how far golf could take him. It ended up taking him on a journey that brought him back home. On Monday, with his amateur status reinstated, Pannone found himself at Warwick Country Club for the first round of the Rhode Island Golf Association’s 119th Amateur Championship.

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And he couldn’t have been happier.

“I wanted no regrets,” the 37-year old Pannone said. “I can look back and say I didn’t make it, but I had a shot.

“I had some great rounds and great memories — and I tried.”

Pannone was a star in high school (at East Greenwich and Hendricken), spent two years playing at the University of Rhode Island before transferring to the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, where he had an All-American career thanks in part to the help from coach Shane LeBaron.

More: Not up for a full round? Here are 5 9-hole golf courses in RI you should play this summer

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He wanted more. Pannone needed to see just how good his game would get.

“I wanted to give it a shot,” Pannone said. “[LeBaron] told me Mid-Am golf is fun, and if you want to play Am golf, you wouldn’t be a failure if you did.

More: MetLinks Golf Course hasn’t replaced Metacomet Country Club – but it has kept its spirit alive

“But my brain, once I got going on my path at USCB, that was the path I wanted to go.”

Professional golf’s minor leagues are more of a grind than any other pro sport. While minor league baseball players are famously paid in peanuts, there are plenty of weeks where mini-tour players don’t get paid at all.

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Pannone spent years driving around the country, going from event to event, trying to earn checks. He didn’t mind the grind, living out of his truck, because he was dead set on accomplishing a goal he had set for himself.

But every tournament he played, he found players with the same type of goals. There was a round during his first year where he battled to shoot even par and felt great about how he played, right up until he saw the leaderboard where a player shot 59.

Pannone was putting in the work and found some success, but not at a consistent enough level to make it a full-time job.

“I saw what the talent was at basically a fourth mini-tour level,” Pannone said. “I was basically donating to Tony Finau and Mark Hubbard all year. [Finau] was a nobody at that point, but it was like ‘cool, there’s another level.’

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“You think you’re good, you’re a first-team All-American, rah rah, then a guy knocks it 100 yards by you and hits wedges just as good as you do.”

Pannone wanted to chase pro golf as long as he could, but had two non-negotiables that would tell him when it was time to stop.

“If I stopped getting nervous on the first tee, I was done competing and, if I stopped having fun, I was done competing,” Pannone said. “I never lost the nerves, but I was starting to get angry. Even if I played well, I was never happy.”

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As age 30 approached, Pannone was about to get engaged to now-wife Caitlin, and started to figure out what he wanted from golf — and life. No more trying to raise money for Q-School. Fewer events. He worked under Tom Spargo at Spargo Golf and eventually took over the business.

There was time to work and play golf, but also time to have a life. COVID hit and the golf boom hit. Suddenly, there was less time to practice and play.

Last summer, Pannone failed to qualify for the Mass Open. He played in a Monday qualifier for the Traveler’s Championship in nearby Cromwell and struggled down the stretch.

On the way home, he decided that was enough.

“I didn’t want to play and travel for five grand for winning a tournament when I could make that working a week in the shop,” Pannone said. “It wasn’t a good life balance.”

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Once he turned pro, Pannone figured his amateur days were dead. He was locked in on trying to succeed, but watched from afar as players he grew up playing with and against had success at the state and regional level.

“I watched Bobby [Leopold] do all of this while I was playing [crappy] mini-tour events and I was like ‘God that looks fun,’ ” Pannone said. “You get to play these events, play sweet courses and get to be around good people.”

With work going well, his wife pushed him to look into getting his amateur status reinstated. It’s a process that starts on a state level, then gets to the USGA and you cannot play professional tournaments during the time period.

Pannone was granted his amateur status back just in time to play one of the RIGA’s state amateur qualifying rounds at Fenner Hill. Pannone treated the pre-qualifier like a pro tournament, playing eight practice rounds before going out and shooting 1-under to earn his spot in the big tournament.

On Monday at Warwick, Pannone felt nerves. Warwick is his home course, but he still felt the pressure of trying to compete.

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He wasn’t trying to win the tournament on Monday. He knows better. Pannone also knows his former status hardly guarantees he’ll win anything this week.

“I’m not going to just go out and dominate. There’s a reason I got my am status back,” Pannone said. “There’s a little guy on my shoulder like ‘this is awesome, you can win,’ but the realist in me is trying to take it one day at a time.”

Day 1 went fine. Pannone struggled to find fairways, but managed to grind out pars. He was 3 over though 14 holes, made birdie on No. 15 and had looks on Nos. 16 and 17 before finishing with another bird to shoot a 1-over par 71.

It put him in a good position to earn a spot in match play — the second qualifying round takes place on Tuesday — but, more importantly, he left Warwick happy about how everything was falling into place.

“I’ve gotten better over the last six months,” Pannone said. “Since I’ve gotten my am status back, I’ve looked back at it and have been proud. During it, if you had asked my wife if I thought I was failing, yeah, every time.

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“If I didn’t bring money home, I was failing. If I wasn’t living anything up to what I thought my expectations were as a player, I thought I was failing. It got to a point when making that decision I was looking at most of my rounds as failures.”

That’s not the case anymore. Now, it’s joy.

“I look back at all of it and now, I’m OK with the position I’m in,” Pannone said. “I have an unbelievable wife and I get to be at home and I get to sleep at home in my own bed. It’s the best.”

Who leads at the RIGA State Amateur

Pannone’s 1-over par 70 had him tied with more than a dozen players for eighth, but the top of the leaderboard featured a few familiar faces.

Leopold, the defending state champ, looked very much like someone intending to add another trophy to his mantle. The four-time State Am champ played solid golf, then came alive late with three birdies over his final four holes for an impressive 4-under 65.

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“Last year I kind of did the same thing,” Leopold said. “I’m trying to get some feels to see where my game is at and I feel like the more I play the better I get. To come out here and post a good number and really didn’t have any blemishes on the scorecard, no real danger of making a mistake out there, that was really nice to see and shows I can get more aggressive here and there if I want to.

“That’s what you want to do when you get to match play. Know your game is good enough where if I need to get aggressive here, I can, but if I can hit middles of the greens the whole time maybe you can win that way too.”

Right behind Leopold was former Prout All-Stater Bennett Masterson, who shot a 3-under par 66. Former champ Brad Valois was also in the mix at 1-under par, tying him with a few others for third.

There were a glut of current and former Rhode Island Interscholastic League stars tied for 22nd. Current RIIL state champ Rocco Capalbo, a rising sophomore, shot 71, as did former two-time RIIL state champ Max Jackson, the recent La Salle grad who’s headed to Rutgers to play in the fall.

Day 2 of qualifying starts on Tuesday morning, with the top 32 players moving on to match play. Wednesday will feature Round of 32 matches, with Round of 16 taking place Thursday morning, followed by the afternoon quarterfinals. The semifinals take place Friday morning, leading to Saturday’s 36-hole championship.

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Rhode Island

Republican National Convention launches Monday amid some grumbling over abortion stance • Rhode Island Current

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Republican National Convention launches Monday amid some grumbling over abortion stance • Rhode Island Current


WASHINGTON — Thousands of Republicans will gather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin beginning Monday for the party’s presidential nominating convention — an opportunity for the GOP to showcase its candidates up and down the ballot and unify behind Donald Trump.

The RNC released its trimmed-down party platform the week prior to the convention, after foregoing one entirely in 2020. And while many Republicans in Congress said during interviews they either support it, or hadn’t read it, some were critical it adopts Trump’s position that abortion access be left up to states — one of the top issues in the presidential race.

The platform wraps in traditional party goals as well as others tied to Trump. But it also competes with attention drawn to the Heritage Foundation’s massive far-right Project 2025 policy agenda, which Trump has repeatedly disavowed.

Democrats and President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign have targeted the Project 2025 document spearheaded by former Trump administration officials — which says the president should work with Congress on abortion policy — as an example of an extreme GOP agenda.

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The Heritage Foundation is scheduled to host an all-day “policy fest” on Monday at the RNC Convention, headlined by conservative media personality Tucker Carlson and former Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, among others.

The RNC convention could also be the showcase for Trump announcing his running mate, after months of speculation about who would get the nod. As of Friday, Trump had not revealed his pick, though speculation centered around Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

There was also little information available ahead of the convention as to the lineup and schedule of speakers in official sessions throughout the week, which culminates with the nomination of Trump on Thursday and his speech.

Unhappiness over abortion stance

GOP members of Congress said in interviews they would have liked to have seen a national abortion ban in the platform.

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, the top Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he preferred the GOP’s last official platform, which called for a nationwide abortion ban after 20 weeks.

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“I’m pro-life and I like the way it was previously,” Cassidy said.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said while she hadn’t read the full platform, she had read the section about abortion, as well as a few others.

“I am pro-life and I am always going to be adamantly pro-life,” Ernst said. “And I think what we’re going to have to do is work very hard to educate the American people on the value of life. So would I like to see more robust (language) in the platform? Certainly. But that’s not the way it’s going to be. So we’re just going to have to continue fighting for life.”

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said the platform places a “new emphasis on the states” to regulate abortion access, largely as a result of Trump pressing for that structure in an attempt to appeal to independent voters, though Lankford said it won’t bind Republicans in Congress.

“Obviously, this is a platform that’s wrapped around him, it’s a new model for presidential platforms to be wrapped around the candidate,” Lankford said.

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Trump has shifted the GOP platform away from pressing for a nationwide law, in part, because he doesn’t believe the votes are there at the moment, Lankford said. But that doesn’t mean Republican lawmakers will stop talking about their beliefs or working to build support for a nationwide law.

“It’s a common ground statement,” Lankford said of the platform. “But for those of us that believe in the value of every single child — and we should do whatever we can to be able to protect the lives of children — we will continue to be able to speak out on those things.”

Mike Pence, former Indiana governor and vice president during Trump’s first term in office, released a statement saying the “RNC platform is a profound disappointment to the millions of pro-life Republicans that have always looked to the Republican Party to stand for life.”

“Unfortunately, this platform is part of a broader retreat in our party, trying to remain vague for political expedience,” he wrote.

Pence called on delegates attending the RNC convention to “restore language to our party’s platform recognizing the sanctity of human life and affirming that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.”

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Shorter, vaguer

The 16-page platform is much shorter than years past and is at times vague about the goals the Republican Party hopes to accomplish if voters give them unified control of the federal government during the next two years.

The official document was put together behind closed doors.

It says that after nearly 50 years, “because of us,” the ability to regulate abortion has “been given to the States and to a vote of the People.”

“We will oppose Late Term Abortion, while supporting mothers and policies that advance Prenatal Care, access to Birth Control, and IVF (fertility treatments),” the new RNC platform states.

The 2016 Republican Party platform, by contrast, was 66 pages long and mentioned abortion more than 30 times, calling for Congress to pass legislation that banned abortion after 20-weeks gestation.

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That previous platform also said that the RNC respected “the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.”

‘Nothing going to happen up here in the Senate’

Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas said that it’s extremely unlikely either political party gets the 60 votes needed to advance abortion legislation through the legislative filibuster in the Senate, making the states the more practical place to enact laws.

“There’s not 48 votes on this issue one way or the other up here, let alone 60,” Marshall said. “There’s nothing going to happen up here in the Senate in the near future, if forever.”

Marshall said that Republicans “won” in getting the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and that the issue is now left up to voters.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said a full GOP platform shorter than in previous years is a good development, since people might actually read it.

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“Nobody’s gonna read the Sears catalog, like previous ones,” Grassley said. “And I think if we can get people to read the Republican platform, it’ll be a great thing for the campaign. I think it’d be a great thing for government generally.”

Grassley said he couldn’t make a judgment about the new abortion language, since he didn’t remember the language from the 2016 platform.

Voters expect all of GOP on same page

Alabama Sen. Katie Britt said she hadn’t read through the platform, but that she was encouraged some anti-abortion groups expressed support for the new language.

“I’m proud to be pro-life and proud to support the party and President Trump,” Britt said.

Voters, she said, expect to hear from a unified Republican Party during convention week as well as from one that focuses on policy.

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“I think people want a secure border, they want stable prices, they want a more secure world,” Britt said. “And I think we need to talk about those things — talk about not only where we are, but our vision for moving forward.”

Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, didn’t directly answer a question about whether he supports removing a nationwide abortion ban from the party’s platform.

“Look, I think they did good work on the platform,” Daines said. “We’re a party that believes in life, we’re a pro-life party. I think they did a good job.”

West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said that voters want to hear Republicans unified at the convention.

“I think they want to hear a unifying message for the future,” Capito said. “I think they want to hear how things will be different and better, especially on the economy and border and international. And I just think, you know, a united front is probably the most important.”

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Arkansas Sen. John Boozman said the GOP should emphasize how it differs from Democrats during the RNC Convention.

“I think that they need to hear a message of unity and the contrast between what Republicans can accomplish on inflation and border,” Boozman said.

National treasures, women’s sports

The RNC’s new platform includes familiar GOP policy goals as well as some that came along after Trump became the party’s nominee eight years ago.

For example, it calls for Republicans to “promote beauty in Public Architecture and preserve our Natural Treasures. We will build cherished symbols of our Nation, and restore genuine Conservation efforts.”

It also calls on GOP lawmakers to “support the restoration of Classic Liberal Arts Education,” though it doesn’t detail that particular issue.

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The rest of the platform is pretty standard for the types of initiatives and policy goals that Republicans have traditionally pursued.

For example, it calls on Republicans to slash “wasteful Government spending,” “restore every Border Policy of the Trump administration,” make provisions from the 2017 tax law permanent and “will keep men out of women’s sports.”

Trump running mate

The RNC convention could also include Trump announcing who will campaign with him at the top of the ticket.

His last running mate, Pence, began distancing himself from Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which included calls from the mob to kill Pence, and the construction of a scaffold for public hangings on the National Mall.

Pence was in the Capitol building that day and was removed from danger by his security detail as the pro-Trump mob beat police officers, broke into the building and disrupted Congress’ certification of Biden as the country’s next president.

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Trump, without revealing his vice presidential selection, wrote Thursday on social media that he is “looking very much forward to being in Milwaukee next week.”

“The great people of Wisconsin will reward us for choosing their State for the Republican National Convention. From there we go on to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! See you next week,” he posted on Truth Social, his online platform where he regularly publishes comments and statements.

The vice presidential candidate typically gives a speech on Wednesday night, so Trump is expected to make his announcement before then.

Project 2025

Conservative operatives striving to elect Trump to the White House have been circulating the 922-page Project 2025 plan for nearly 15 months.

Spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation, in conjunction with more than 100 organizations, the policy agenda titled “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise” presents a roadmap should Trump win in November.

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The “goal is to assemble an army of aligned, vetted, trained, and prepared conservatives to go to work on Day One to deconstruct the Administrative State,” according to the organization’s description of the mandate.

The lengthy mandate sets forth core promises to “restore the family” and overhaul government agencies.

The document states that “(i)n particular, the next conservative President should work with Congress to enact the most robust protections for the unborn that Congress will support while deploying existing federal powers to protect innocent life and vigorously complying with statutory bans on the federal funding of abortion.”

The mandate is just one pillar under the multi-pronged “Project 2025: Presidential Transition Project” that also includes a presidential administration training academy and a 180-day “playbook” aimed “to bring quick relief to Americans suffering from the Left’s devastating policies.” The project is led by two former Trump administration officials.

The Biden-Harris campaign and Democrats have repeatedly criticized Project 2025 in comments and campaign emails.

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“If implemented, Project 2025 would be the latest attempt in Donald Trump’s full on assault on reproductive freedom,” Vice President Kamala Harris said at a rally in North Carolina on Thursday.

Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said during a press conference Thursday that the plan is “dangerous, it’s dastardly and it’s diabolical.”

“Project 2025, the Trump and extreme MAGA Republican agenda, will criminalize abortion care and impose a nationwide ban on reproductive freedom,” Jeffries said.

Trump and his campaign deny any connection to the project.

“I know nothing about Project 2025. I have not seen it, have no idea who is in charge of it, and, unlike our very well received Republican Platform, had nothing to do with it,” Trump wrote Thursday on his social media platform Truth Social.

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“The Radical Left Democrats are having a field day, however, trying to hook me into whatever policies are stated or said. It is pure disinformation on their part,” he continued. “By now, after all of these years, everyone knows where I stand on EVERYTHING!”

Trump has delivered keynote speeches at Heritage Foundation events multiple times. An analysis by CNN showed 140 former Trump administration staffers were involved in the project. Kevin Roberts, Heritage Foundation president, told the New York Times in April 2023 that Trump had been briefed on the project.

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Rhode Island

Leopold and Hamilton advance to RI Amateur title

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Leopold and Hamilton advance to RI Amateur title


WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Bobby Leopold and Michael Hamilton will go head-to-head in the title match of the Rhode Island Amateur on Saturday morning.

Leopold, the reigning champion, defeated Max Jackson (4 & 2). Hamilton defeated Tom McCormick (1 up).

The title match is set for 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.

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Match Preview: Miami FC vs. Rhode Island FC

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Match Preview: Miami FC vs. Rhode Island FC



CBS News Miami

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MIAMI — Miami FC returns home to face Rhode Island FC for the first match between the two teams this Saturday. With this season being Rhode Island’s first in the USL Championship, this will be the first game the two teams play against each other.

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Miami FC

Miami FC is back at FIU Stadium to take on Rhode Island FC in hopes of securing three points at home this weekend.

Khalid Balogun, a recent signing of Miami’s, scored his first-ever goal for the team and his first goal in the USL Championship last Saturday in Miami’s match against North Carolina FC.

Balogun joins the scoresheet for Miami as the tenth goal scorer of the season and will be one of Miami’s players to watch during this Saturday’s match.

Rhode Island FC

Rhode Island FC travels down to South Florida to play their first match at FIU Stadium following their Friday night draw against Indy Eleven. Rhode Island is ninth on the Eastern Conference table having secured 19 points from its 3-10-4 record.

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The main players to watch for Rhode Island this weekend are Albert Dikwa and Frank Nodarse. Dikwa, the 2023 USL Championship top scorer, has tallied up four goals for his new team thus far. Nodarse, another key player for Rhode Island, has scored three times this season, two being just last week against Indy Eleven where he marked down a brace.

Rhode Island FC will be looking to secure its fourth win of the season and climb its way up to securing a playoff spot.

How to watch

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. EST at FIU Stadium, where parking will be at the Cuban Memorial Lot shown in the map below.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. EST at FIU Stadium, where parking will be at the Cuban Memorial Lot. 

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Miami FC


If you can’t make the game in person, you can watch it on TV33 for local viewing, along with ESPN+ for national viewing and YouTube for international viewing.

Miami will be looking to gain three points at home before heading to South Carolina next week to face Charleston Battery. Tickets for this match are available at miamifc.com/tickets.  

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