When Golf Brings Family Together

By George WhiteJuly 12, 2006, 4:00 pm
This is not a story about professional golfers, not a debate on whether Tiger Woods is the best player in the world, no argument on whether Michelle Wie is doing the right thing or the wrong thing, or whether Annika Sorenstam will eventually catch Kathy Whitworth.
 
This is not story about professional golf courses, or the professional instructors. Its a story about you or me, everyday people who do everyday things, but maybe in little special ways.
 
Pease Family
The Pease family, from left to right: Jason, Jesse, Joelle and Keith.
Its a story about the Pease family ' brothers Jesse and Jason, their father Keith and mother Joelle, who live in the heartland of Sioux City, Iowa. And its a story about Special Olympics golf. Jesse, age 24, has an intellectual disability, and the entire family has rallied around him to see that he gets his week to experience golf in a tournament setting, competing against similar golfers from all across the country.
 
The Special Olympics golf tournament was held last week in Ames, Iowa, 141 athletes from 41 states competing. Jesse and 29-year-old Jason competed as a team in Level 3 - an 18-hole alternate shot format that teams a Special Olympics player with a non-Special Olympics player of similar ability. Oh ' Jesse and Jason finished second, behind only Jason Plante, age 16, and his father Robert Plante of Lafayette, Ind.
 
The question is, who enjoyed the experience more ' Jesse or big brother Jason? And the answer might have been, Jason.
 
This is the first time that Ive ever done something like this, said Jason, and for me it was a phenomenal experience. And I just tried to make every day all about him.
 
Weve gone out and weve practiced and weve prepared for this. But to come out and play on the course, and to see him play as well as he did ' I was speechless. And I was amazed at how well we played. We had two bad holes, but we still tied our personal best. It was phenomenal.
 
The pair scored better every day, shooting 90 the first day, trimming 10 strokes to get to 80 the second, and finishing with 79.
 
Father Keith, who happens to be on the Special Olympics board in Iowa, is overjoyed that his two sons enjoyed themselves so much.
 
When your children are out there playing and competing, and theyre playing as good as they know how to play. It would be one thing if you walked in and said, Hey they could have played better. But hey ' they played well. So that makes you proud, he said.
 
And there was another reason the experience resonated with Keith. Im also the coach, he said, so Im the one who taught him to play the game. It was nice to see that they listened and learned ' its not very many parents who get to see that happen all the time.
 
The men have been playing for about 10 years. The mom, Joelle, sat at home in the early stages while the men went to the course. But she decided, Well, why not? And then she took the big step ' she became a player, too.
 
Exactly! she said. I decided that if I was ever going to see my husband and my family between April and October, Id better learn how to play this game.
 
So, thats what I did. And I love it! We all get to experience being outdoors. And ' Im getting better.
 
And golf is the common bond that makes this a close-knit family. When they are playing at home, no one has a disability. No one notices that this family member or that family member might have a handicap. They are just four people, out for an afternoon stroll on the course.
 
Golf brings everybody together, explained Joelle. We have something to do where were out together and ' lets do it. You know, its fun, and we enjoy each other.
 
Its heartwarming to hear about such stories, about the PGA of America who sponsors the Special Olympics golf program, about the group Play Golf America. And its heartwarming to hear of people like the Pease family. Golf, they say, will be a major part of their family forever.
 
Oh, it better, said Jesse, the Special Olympian. It better. Absolutely. In fact, well get home and Im sure well play two or three times together next week.
 
Theres something truly special about this sport.
 
'Golf is what we have in common, said Jason. It is our connection and our chance to really interact. We like going to hockey games together, but that we can only do as spectators. Golf takes our relationship to a whole new level.'

'Golfing with Jason, says father Keith, has done so much for Jesse... involving him with peer groups, acceptance by friends, developing socialization skills, building his confidence and just creating such a strong bond among all of us.'
 
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

Getty Images

Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

Getty Images

13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

Getty Images

McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.