Professional golfers in the 2013 Accenture Match Play Championship took time to honor local military members here today as Air and Army National Guardsmen in uniform lined the walkway to the 1st tee before the beginning of play Feb. 22 at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz.
“We’re proud to represent the military here today, and proud to be a part of this event,” said Colonel Philip Wielhouwer, 355th Operations Group commander at nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Col. Wielhouwer addressed a crowd of golf fans to kick off the day’s events with the posting of the colors, the singing of the national anthem and an A-10 flyover.
The top 64 golfers in the world convened on the greater Tucson area only to be delayed by wind and rain that later turned to snow as the first round of play hit a delay on the first day of the tournament before all four No. 1 seeds could get on the course. Behind schedule, and with many of the top-seeded golfers eliminated early, golfers still took time to honor local military members.
“Thanks for all you do. We can’t thank you guys enough,” said pro golfer Matt Kuchar as he headed toward the first tee box. Local military members were out in full force at the tournament to cheer on their favorite golfers and formed a receiving line as the pros walked to the 1st tee.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to represent the 162nd Fighter Wing at such a high-profile event,” said Staff Sgt. Ty Gocken, a Phase Dock worker at the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Senior Airman Jose Roman, a Supply craftsman here. “I’m honored to represent the Arizona National Guard here,” he said.
Birdies for the Brave, a PGA Tour Charities, Inc. program is a military outreach initiative supported by the PGA Tour. Since 2005, the tour has joined with players, corporate partners, club members, fans and tour employees to raise more than $6.5 million for charities that provide vital services and programs for military men and women and their families. Birdies for the Brave was established by tour player Phil Mickelson and his wife.
Since the program’s inception, Birdies for the Brave has grown to include a variety of military outreach efforts, including Patriots’ Outpost military hospitality chalets and military celebrations held during tournaments; letter-writing campaigns for the troops; distribution of care packages to troops stationed abroad; awarding honorary memberships to the Wounded Warrior Project for the benefit of a local wounded warrior; and a series of fund-raising events.
Birdies for the Brave enables fans, club members, sponsors and the public the opportunity to participate in charity golf tournaments and other activities that directly benefit military men and women and their families, while at the same time play the same golf courses where the world’s best golfers compete. The Navy SEAL Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project are just two of the many groups that benefit from the Birdies for the Brave program.
To learn more about the many ways the PGA Tour supports the U.S. military and their families, go to www.birdiesforthebrave.org.