Inaugural Simpson Cup for injured servicemen to be held at TPC Sawgrass
October 2, 2012
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. and LONDON— Gregg Stevenson, an ex-Royal Engineer Commando who lost one leg above the knee and the other below after stepping on an IED (improvised explosive device) in Afghanistan in 2009, had never played golf before his accident. Today, with thanks to the On Course Foundation, he is down to a handicap of 18 and honing his game for the inaugural Simpson Cup which is to be held at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, December 2-5, 2012.
The Simpson Cup will pitch 12 injured Servicemen and veterans from the UK against their American counterparts. The competition is comprised of a fourball, better-ball format on the first day over the Dyes Valley Course and 12 singles on the second day over THE PLAYERS Stadium Course. The On Course Foundation (a registered Charitable Organization in the UK and US) was founded by John Simpson, the former manager of Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Greg Norman, with a view to helping wounded Servicemen, women and veterans get back on track, both via golf itself and jobs in the golf industry.
“The match and the events leading up to it are key aspects of the On Course Foundation’s program, which builds confidence in the wounded Service Personnel as they face new challenges in their lives. Most importantly we aim to give these heroes opportunities for the future via work experience and employment opportunities in the golf industry,” said Simpson. “The Simpson Cup gives these determined and focused men and women something to work towards - a real target.”
“We are looking forward to hosting members of the On Course Foundation for the Simpson Cup in December,” said Bill Hughes, General Manager, TPC Sawgrass. “When John first brought the concept to us, we were intrigued with the idea of hosting a competition for current and ex-Servicemen and women from both sides of the Atlantic. We anticipate that each side will enjoy the amenities we have to offer, and will particularly appreciate the challenges that both golf courses will offer.”
The UK Foundation has been running for two years now, and in that time it has experienced huge success. The American On Course Foundation will launch in Florida in early 2013 and is set to introduce many injured heroes to the game of golf and provide a new career path, in the golf industry.
Stevenson, who works as a National Liaison Officer for the Foundation, is a case in point. Once a keen rugby exponent, Stevenson says he was "lost and devastated" when he realized his military career had come to an end. "Thanks to the On Course Foundation," he said, "I have had a new direction in life and am practicing like Tiger Woods with the Simpson Cup in mind."
John Mcafee, from Oviedo, Florida is another who is spending long hours on the practice range. The former member of the 101st Airborne Division, who was injured three times in combat, is enthused about the prospect of competing against the British team “Playing golf has been great for my recovery and I can’t wait to step out onto the fairways of such a prestigious course” he said.
Jose Maria Olazabal, the Captain of the European Team at Ryder Cup in Medinah, sent his congratulations to all the players in the On Course Foundation, both for their progress so far and for the inspiration they are giving to others. "I hope that they, like the members of my Ryder Cup side, will enjoy a great contest against the Americans," said the Spaniard.
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