ASU honors fallen soldier with PT42 golf bag

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LAS VEGAS – Arizona State junior Alberto Sanchez wasn’t just playing for himself and his school at this week’s Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters. He was also trying to rack up birdies for a bigger cause.

This season, each ASU starter has carried a camouflage team bag emblazoned with a “PT42” logo on the side.

At the 2013 Golf Coaches Association of America convention, many coaches discussed the idea of carrying a bag with the name of a fallen soldier from that state. The Sun Devils decided to take it a step further.

The men’s and women’s programs this season are honoring Pat Tillman, the former ASU safety who played in the NFL before deciding to serve in the Army following the Sept. 11 attacks. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 at age 27.

The PT42 bag has rotated to each starter on the team, and last week was Sanchez’s turn. For every birdie and eagle he made at the 54-hole Southern Highlands event (a total of 12 birdies), about 15 people, including a pair of top donors, contributed money to the program. During every regular-season event in the spring, head coach Tim Mickelson is donating $5 for every birdie made by the player carrying the bag, and $15 for every eagle. 

“It encourages the player,” Sanchez said, “because it’s like, hey, you’re carrying it for a bigger cause than just our event. Go out there and make a ton of birdies and feel very good about it.”

Now that all of the starters have gotten a chance to carry the bag, it will be awarded to the player who posts the best finish in the most recent tournament. The team’s best player, Jon Rahm, has led the country in eagles made over the past two seasons.

The PT42 bag will be auctioned off at the end of the season. Half of the money from the birdie-eagle initiative will remain in the joint account for the ASU golf program, while the other half will go to the Pat Tillman Foundation, which awards academic scholarships to kids of fallen soldiers.

Mickelson anticipates the total amount raised to be upwards of $15,000.