News

Kendall Todd and Adam Miller Win Warren Schutte Invitational, First Junior Masters Series Tournament of 2021 JGAA Season

PHOENIX – The Warren Schutte Invitational presented by Hilgers Orthodontics, the first PING Junior Masters Series tournament of the 2021 season, teed off January 23-24 at Wigwam Golf Resort, with round one contested on the Gold Course and the final round on the Red Course.

In the Boys Championship division, three players shared the first-round lead at 1-under 71, including Adam Miller of Phoenix while six others sat just one stroke behind. Miller then pulled away from the pack on the Red Course after firing a second-round, 8-under-par 64 that included four consecutive birdies on holes 2-5 and again on 11-14. Miller landed at 9-under-par 135 to win by five strokes over Anawin Pikulthong of Gilbert, who gave chase with a final-round 68 to finish in second place at 4-under-par 140 (72-68). Two players – Ethan Evans Mercer Island, Washington and Noah Nuez of Laveen – tied for third place at 3-under-par 141 with matching rounds of 72-69.

Miller starts 2021 season hot after a strong 2020 that included two runners-up at the Tucson City Junior Championship and the Phoenix Metro Junior Championship, and in mid-September, he notch a huge win at the AJGA PING Heather Farr Classic.

The Girls Championship division turned out to be a shootout between Kendall Todd of Goodyear and Grace Summerhays of Scottsdale. The only players to break 70, Summerhays set the pace in the first round after a 4-under-par 68 and Todd finished one behind with a 3-under 69. Todd then pulled off a two-stroke swing in the second round after posting a 1-over-par 73 to win by one stroke at 2-under-par 142 for the championship. Summerhays took second place (68-75—143) at 1-under par. And two players finished tied for third place at 4-over-par 148:  Emma Tang (76-72) of Chino Hills, California and Jennifer Seo (73-75) of Chandler.

Todd picked up right where she left off last June, with a T1 finish at the Willie Low Invitational, another PING Junior Masters Series tournament, and a win the week before at the State Junior Golf Championship. She also notched top 10s in two other 2020 PING Junior Masters events, 4th at the Thunderbird Invitational and 9th at last year’s Warren Schutte Invitational.

The PING Junior Masters Series consists of five tournaments held at some of the most prestigious courses in Arizona. Debuting in 2015, the PING Junior Masters Series is a series of invitation-only tournaments tailored to Arizona junior golfers with the desire and ability to compete locally against their top-ranked peers. The field for the events is limited to junior golfers who are invited to compete by their national ranking by Junior Golf Scoreboard – boys must be in the top 3,500 and girls in the top 1,500.

“Our goal is to provide a competitive place for aspiring players to play,” said Alex Clark, Chairman of the Board of the JGAA. “This tournament series will allow kids to earn national-level points and will serve as a launching pad for nationally chartered events.”

Openings for junior players from neighboring states will be dependent on availability at each event. Qualified junior players can sign up for the PING Junior Major Series by visiting www.jgaa.org.

To learn more about the JGAA and the PING Junior Masters Series, contact Scott McNevin, JGAA Executive Director, [email protected], or call Scott at 602-944-6168.

News

The Thunderbirds in the Community – Rising to the Challenge

When we look back at 2020 from a sporting lens, we’ll likely point to March 11th as the day everything changed. That fateful date marked the beginning of a rapid, indefinite cancelation of nearly every sporting event on the planet. March Madness, gone. The Olympics were pushed to next year. And the PGA TOUR rushed to find their part in a solution to one of the greatest global challenges in recent history. The sporting world, of course, wasn’t the only hard-hit industry during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The charity sector was decimated, finding itself without regular grants and donations from dependable organizations for the first time in decades. Thankfully, however, Arizona charities had an ace in the hole – The Thunderbirds.

As pillars of the Arizona philanthropic community, The Thunderbirds – much like the mythical bird for which their home city is named – rose from the ashes of anxiety to provide much-needed aid to hundreds of local charities and nonprofits. Within days after the CDC officially designated COVID-19 as a global pandemic in March, The Thunderbirds stepped up with an emergency $1 million donation local charitable groups including Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley, St. Mary’s Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul.

“Thanks to the tremendous community support every year of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, The Thunderbirds are in a unique position to provide immediate support,” said Chance Cozby, executive director of The Thunderbirds. “We are in unprecedented times. We felt, as an organization, it was imperative to act quickly and get much-needed funds to help those in dire need as soon as possible.”

Months later in August after a second wave of positive COVID-19 cases gripped the nation, The Thunderbirds announced an additional donation of $3.8 million to 43 Valley charities as part of their Spring funding cycle.

“We understand the importance these charities serve and that was never more evident than this spring when we had to band together to battle this pandemic,” said Tim Woods, Thunderbirds Big Chief. “To see what is happening in our community and how we as an organization are able to help so many is a very proud moment.”

After an influx of monetary support, The Thunderbirds took advantage of virtual meeting platforms like Zoom to launch their “In the Community Conversations” and reached out to dozens of charity partners to learn more about specific needs and to rally the community around common causes. In total, The Thunderbirds conducted 30 separate interviews with Arizona charity leaders and found ways to ease the burden of overwhelmed organizations.

Some organizations like Teen Lifeline who provides support to young people experiencing depression needed sanitation equipment. Ronald McDonald House which provides housing to families whose children are receiving life-saving treatment at world-renowned pediatric centers needed meal donations more than anything else. Others needed additional volunteers, cash donations and clothing to name a few.

“What we found was every organization we spoke to had unique needs,” said 2021 tournament chairman Scott Jenkins. “Cash donations never hurt, but we realized our group could help with more than just providing funds. Writing checks can help from a distance, certainly, but real community support comes from rolling up your sleeves and getting to work.”

Get to work they did. As many Arizona schools prepared to open their doors to students for the first time in months, The Thunderbirds helped ensure every young learner had the tools they needed to succeed by providing on-site support to Arizona Helping Hands. They prepared first-aid kits, filled backpacks full of school supplies and even built bicycles.

“Thunderbirds Charities is very proud of our 10-year partnership with Arizona Helping Hands,” said Ed Grant of The Thunderbirds. “Especially during this pandemic where so many children who are used to getting service – either from their church or their school – are not receiving them right now. But Arizona Helping Hands continued to provide that. It’s very meaningful and it’s very important to us.”

Realizing the importance of exercise and playing safely, The Thunderbirds went to Special Olympics Arizona’s headquarters to help prepare 140 “Return to Play” bags full of personal protection equipment like thermometers, masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to assist SOAZ programs start planning to resume activities. And To celebrate Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun’s 30th anniversary and as part of their commitment to local non-profit organizations, The Thunderbirds helped Rebuilding Together manufacture and install a wheelchair ramp at the home of a local woman with mobility challenges who had a hard time getting up and down her stairs.

Tyler Kent of The Thunderbirds was on hand to aid in the installation and also shed light on what these projects and the work of the organization at large mean to him and his fellow Thunderbirds.

“With the pandemic, charities need more help than ever,” said Kent. “The Thunderbirds have supported our charity partners financially, but what’s more meaningful today is working alongside my fellow thunderbirds and our charity partners in the community to bring joy and happiness to people in need.”

To lend a hand during the holidays more than 50 Thunderbirds and a number of Waste Management officials visited St. Mary’s Food Bank and United Food Bank before Thanksgiving and Christmas to assist with emergency food preparation. Over the course of two hours, The Thunderbirds and Waste Management officials packed more than 3,000 emergency food boxes and filled 864 backpacks with food for children who do not have access to proper nutrition outside of school – which has been directly impacted by COVID precautions. St. Mary’s Food Bank estimates this 2-hour food pack from The Thunderbirds and Waste Management resulted in helping nearly 2,400 Arizonans.

“These vital organizations do an amazing job helping hungry people in our community regardless of the circumstances,” said Thunderbirds Big Chief Chance Cozby. “Obviously, the current health crisis has impacted their ability to serve the community in the same ways they have in the past, but through volunteer support and the backing of the community at large, we know we can come together and provide aid and assistance to these as much as we can.”

It goes to show what can be done when a community comes together. And while we’re not out of the woods just yet, knowing the community support of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the host Thunderbirds can and does lead to extraordinary charitable giving is a sight for sore eyes as we inch towards getting back to normal.

News

Graysen Huff Goes Wire-to-Wire to Win 2020 Patriot All-America Invitational

Auburn senior shoots final round -3 (67) to finish -8 overall, two shots better than Lincoln Memorial University senior Dan Bradbury

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – Auburn University senior Graysen Huff shot a third straight round of par or better Thursday at the Wigwam Golf Club Gold Course, turning in a final-round -3 (67) to win the 2020 Patriot All-America Invitational at -8 overall. Huff’s final score was two shots better than Lincoln Memorial University senior Dan Bradbury, who finished alone in second at -6. View the entire leaderboard here.

“It’s pretty awesome – I don’t really have words for it,” said Huff, the Eagle, Idaho-native playing in his second straight Patriot All-America. “This is what we work for, to just give yourself the opportunity. Thankfully the cards fell my way this week.”

Huff found himself down one stroke to Bradbury on the par-4 13th hole, before finding another gear down the stretch. Bradbury would bogey 13 to drop to -5, and Huff would birdie three of his last five holes to take home the F-35 Trophy and authentic Air Force leather flight jacket. In all, 83 of the top amateur players in the world made up this year’s 10th Anniversary Patriot All-America field.

“It’s actually funny, I had the same club in I think on the last five holes,” said Huff. “I hit a lot of really good shots coming in and I think I birdied three of them. It was a little bit of a difference maker and put me just enough ahead to cruise through 18.”

Bradbury entered the final round three shots back of Huff, but quickly made up the deficit with birdies on three of his first four holes. The Yorkshire, England-native improved his score each round at the Wigwam (71-67-66), but ran out of steam in his pursuit of the lead.

“It was the perfect start really – the front nine was kind of getable and I took advantage of the getable holes,” said Bradbury, playing in his first Patriot All-America. “It feels good putting your name up there, but to do it at such a good event like this, it means more this week. So it’s extra special.”

Turk Pettit of Clemson University and Logan McAllister of Oklahoma University finished tied for third at -4, respectively. University of Arizona teammates Christian Banke and Trevor Werbylo, along with San Diego State University’s Puwit Anupansuebsai, finished tied for fifth at -3.

The Patriot All-America honors fallen or severely wounded soldiers in partnership with the Folds of Honor Foundation. The golfers receive a golf bag donated by PING Corporation at the event’s opening ceremony emblazoned with the name and branch of service of a fallen or injured military member whom they shall represent. Participants also receive a card with the soldier’s story so they can be familiar with that soldier. The theme of the tournament made a visible impression on many players.

“It’s a bummer I don’t get to play next year, I’ll just say that,” said Huff just after winning the event. “It’s a special event, a special place and a special atmosphere here.”

“Obviously being from England it’s a little different, but I respect it so much,” said Bradbury. “It is a really cool experience, something totally different to what I’ve ever had before. It’s nice.”

For all information on the Patriot All-America, including links to final results, live stream recordings and social media posts, visit patriotallamerica.com.

About The Patriot All-America Invitational
Featuring golf’s stars of tomorrow, The Patriot All-America is regarded as a top amateur event nationally, attracting PING All-America golfers from all three NCAA Divisions, NAIA and NJCAA rankings as well as from universities outside the United States.  The Arizona Golf Association (AGA), JDM Partners and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) partnering with the Folds of Honor Foundation to host the tournament. For more information visit patriotallamerica.com.

About Wigwam Golf Club
The Wigwam’s three 18-hole championship golf courses offer a diversity that cannot be matched by any other Arizona resort, with 54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Gold Course has hosted many signature tournaments over the years, including numerous U.S. Open Qualifiers, U.S. Amateur Qualifiers, several NCAA Regional Championships and the annual Patriot All-America Invitational, one of the top amateur competitions in the world. The 7,430 yard, par 72 track has also received various industry awards and accolades since opening in 1965, including being named one of the “Top 100 Golf Courses in America.” In December 2009, The Wigwam (including the golf courses and resort property) was purchased by JDM Partners, led by sports icon Jerry Colangelo. For more information, please visit www.wigwamgolf.com.

About Arizona Golf Association
The Arizona Golf Association has been serving amateur golfers in Arizona since 1923 when it held the first State Amateur Championship.  Today, it is licensed by the United States Golf Association to provide handicapping and course rating services to member clubs, to provide tournament and rules expertise and to oversee the application of amateur status. For more information please visit azgolf.org.

About The West Valley Mavericks
The West Valley Mavericks Foundation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit) was born of the imagination and vision of a group of community leaders late in 2012. The West Valley Mavericks (or just ‘Mavericks’) is a group led by gentlemen who believe that the West Valley is an incredible place to live, work, and play.  The Mavericks’ charter is to advance charity, culture, community, and commerce in the West Valley of Phoenix. As an organization, we use individual contributions, fundraising events, business sponsorships, ticket sales donations, as well as hands-on community service to raise money to assist children and families, help people in need, and improve the quality of life in our West Valley communities. For more information please visit westvalleymavericksfoundation.org.

About Golf Coaches Association of America
Established in 1958, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) is the professional organization “of golf coaches. The GCAA’s mission is to support its member coaches by creating educational opportunities, providing resources, and promoting its members with the purpose of enhancing their overall performance as coaches, mentors, and teachers. The GCAA also recognizes the excellence and achievements of its members and their student-athletes in academic, athletic and civic endeavors.