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Armed Forces Honored by THE PLAYERS Championship

PGA TOUR player Vijay Singh poses with color guard members from Naval Air Station Jacksonville at a Birdies for the Brave outing at TPC Sawgrass.
Stan Badz

November 9, 2010

By Colin Murray, PGA TOUR Staff

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.—THE PLAYERS Championship Giving Back Month continued Monday morning as active-duty, retired and reserve members of the United States military gathered at TPC Sawgrass for the fifth-annual Birdies for the Brave Charity Golf Tournament. With the entire country set to honor its military heroes, both past and present, with Veterans Day celebrations later in the week, it was a fitting scene to have so many service men and women of the Armed Forces on hand at TPC Sawgrass.

Perhaps more importantly, the annual Birdies for the Brave event highlights the sacrifices made by the country’s men and women in uniform as each foursome competing on both THE PLAYERS Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course was joined by a wounded warrior or member of the military to create a fivesome. Net proceeds from the event benefit military charities that fall under the Birdies for the Brave charity initiative supported by the PGA TOUR and its players.

“It’s days like today that make us realize how much we take for granted,” said David Pillsbury, president of PGA TOUR Golf Course Properties. “We get to work, our TOUR players get to play golf and we are able to enjoy the things we do in our personal lives in a free country because of the sacrifices made by many who have come before us and the sacrifices that continue to be made today by our men and women in uniform and their families.”

Birdies for the Brave is a military outreach initiative proudly supported by the PGA TOUR designed to express appreciation to the men and women in the United States Armed Forces and to raise funds for the military charities that support wounded veterans and their families. Since it’s creation in 2005 by Phil and Amy Mickelson, “Birdies for the Brave,” through special events held at TPC golf properties throughout the country like the one Monday at TPC Sawgrass, expects to have raised more than $6.2 million for worthy military charities by the end of 2010. Event officials hope Monday’s tournament would raise close to $300,000.

Monday’s events kicked off with a special military appreciation ceremony held on the back lawn behind the clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass. In the shadow of a National Guard helicopter parked behind the podium, Phil Stacey, a finalist during season six of “American Idol,” who proudly served in the United States Navy, began the festivities by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

PGA TOUR players Vijay Singh, Frank Lickliter II and Jeff Klauk, along with former players Bill Kratzert and Bob Duval, were also on hand to play a hole with each group as they made their way around the golf course. They were joined by three members of the Jacksonville Jaguars, as well. Place kicker Josh Scobee, punter Adam Podlesh and cornerback Rashean Mathis, all accomplished golfers, also gave of their time to play a hole with each group in the tournament.

While Singh, Lickliter and Klauk were able to be present to participate in the day’s events, they are not the only PGA TOUR players who support military charities. In order for a military charity to be considered for inclusion in the Birdies for the Brave program, it has to have an association with a TOUR player. Here is a complete list of PGA TOUR players that support the military charities that fall under the TOUR’s “Birdies for the Brave” initiative.


Naval Special Warfare Foundation
(Vijay Singh, Jerry Kelly and Frank Lickliter)
Wounded Warrior Project
(Frank Lickliter II, Boo Weekley, Jason Gore and Nick Watney)
Operation Homefront
(Corey Pavin)
Green Beret Foundation
(Bubba Watson)
Military Warriors Support Foundation
(Ted Purdy)
United through Reading
(Rory Sabbatini)
Special Operations Warrior Foundation
(Phil Mickelson)
Homes for Our Troops
(Phil Mickelson)


“I want to thank the PGA TOUR and its players. You do so much for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines,” said Doug Brown, a retired four-star general (U.S. Army) and Vietnam veteran. “We are the ones that are able to get out and see the impact of these great charities that step in immediately when a service member is wounded. It is just another example of how our nation supports its military today.”

One of the first military charities to team with the PGA TOUR, and Lickliter in particular, is the Wounded Warrior Project, which raises awareness and helps to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members. Representing the Wounded Warrior Project was Executive Vice President Dan Nevins, a veteran of the Iraq war who was wounded in November 2004 when an Improvised Explosive Device exploded under the vehicle he was traveling in. Nevins suffered traumatic brain injury, had his left leg amputated and, after nearly 30 surgeries, also lost his right leg.

“I was that guy in the hospital at Walter Reed (Hospital) that many of these charities benefit,” Nevins said. “When you are there in the hospital, you don’t realize everything that goes on to make sure you’re taken care of, to take you on adaptive ski trips and to teach you to play golf.”

Nevins was not only on hand to participate in the military appreciation ceremony but also competed in the tournament despite being a double amputee.

“Every year this tournament becomes more and more impressive,” Nevins continued. “It’s a great day to be an American, it’s a great day to be alive, it’s a great day to be vertical and not horizontal and it’s a great day to play a game that makes me very, very frustrated, but that I keep coming back to time and time again.”

Only fitting, given the spirit of the day, THE PLAYERS Championship announced that the 2011 tournament will again provide free admission to active-duty, retired and reserve members of the military and their dependents all week. An expanded Birdies for the Brave Patriot’s Outpost hospitality tent, located between No. 16 and No. 18, will also be featured at the 2011 event. THE PLAYERS returns to TPC Sawgrass, May 9-15.

“We cannot begin to describe how much admiration and respect we have for the men and women in uniform,” said PLAYERS Executive Director Matt Rapp. “We hope the Birdies for the Brave event, along with our free military admission and hospitality policy, can show even the smallest amount of our support for all that they do for our country.”

It was also officially announced that Wednesday, May 11, 2011 will be Military Appreciation Day at the 2011 PLAYERS.

During the 2010 PLAYERS, more than 30,000 active-duty and retired members of the military, and their dependents, took advantage of the free admission policy and attended the event.


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