Three-time Special Olympics silver medalist and Flutie Fellow Tyler Lagasse secured his long-awaited gold medal after shooting a 77 (+5) in the final round on June 9.
It was a duel between Lagasse and another Flutie Foundation-sponsored golfer, Matthew Glumac. Glumac was playing with clubs donated by the Foundation after they were lost during the shipping process. He was neck and neck with Lagasse all the way until the final hole and will go home with a silver medal.
Experience paid off for Lagasse as he came into the morning calm and collected.
“Right now I feel relaxed and confident in myself,” Lagasse said. “After taking a couple warmups here, first at the greens, then at the range, right now I like what I see.”
Still, he knew it would not be easy.
“It’s going to be a heavyweight battle and a marathon rolled into one,” Lagasse said. “I want to wish good luck to Matt Glumac and Peter Condon for a thrilling round of golf, and I hope we have a good time and have some fun.”
See his full interview here:
I also caught up with Glumac briefly before the round:
Just like yesterday, Lagasse and Glumac teed off on hole 1 with Peter Condon of Washington, who was in third place behind the two of them.
The Flutie-sponsored golfers started the day in a tie, but that changed quickly as Lagasse birdied the first hole and took the lead. Lagasse was feeling good about his putts in practice, and it showed on this hole. It validated what he noted about his putts on the practice green at the start of the day. It was clear that Lagasse was focused and ready for the round and he remained alone in first or tied for first for the rest of the tournament, as he made many of his putts under ten feet that were similar to many putts he made on days one and two but was not able to make on day three.
The race stayed very close for all golfers as Lagasse bogeyed the second hole, and Glumac bogeyed the third, which allowed Condon to begin catching up.
However, as the day went on, it started feeling more and more like a two-man race for Gold, as on each hole between 4 and 11, Lagasse and Glumac matched each other’s scores. Lagasse and Glumac appeared to be feeding off each other because if one hit a good shot, the other would follow with a shot just as impressive, whether it was a long-blasting drive, landing the green within a few feet of each other, good up and downs, or a tough long putt. While this happened, Condon was falling farther and farther behind. Condon was playing really well including some of the longest drives of the day and long irons landing inches from the pin but Lagasse and Glumac were scoring at or below par more consistently.
“It was just an incredible duel between me and him; it was so much fun how we were still matching each other on each hole,” Glumac said. “I would make a good shot and then he’d make a good shot right on top of it… it’s something that I’ll never forget.”
Staying close was the theme of the day as their overall scores remained close along with the proximity of their golf balls. On hole 6, all three golfers landed the green in one, each landing within 7 feet of the hole. On hole 8, Glumac and Lagasse landed the green in a very similar spot. There was even one hole where Condon hit his 300+ yard drive to the exact same spot as Glumac’s ball and their balls collided.
Hole 12 was a turning point in the round. Lagasse had been at even par for the day through 11 holes and drove the ball really well off the tee on hole 12. However, on his second shot, he was just short of the slightly elevated but steep edged green and his ball bounced back into a nearly unplayable hazard, and thus opted to drop and take a penalty stroke.
However, on the same hole 12, Glumac’s blasting drive landed at the edge of a similar hazard but the bounce was fortunate and gave Glumac the opportunity to hit a shot that reached the green. Glumac ultimately bogeyed the hole but Lagasse finished with a double bogey placing Lagasse and Glumac in the same spot they started the day, tied for first.
Lagasse was rattled a bit by the results on hole 12 and his tee shot from the 13th tee (par 3 hole), landed in the sand trap just left of the hole. He had a difficult lie on the edge of the bunker and his first shot out of the sand landed just a couple of feet forward and still in the trap, and represented the only time in the day that Lagasse had big challenges on consecutive holes.
Lagasse quickly regained his composure, and his next shot was a turning point that helped him settle down and relax again. Lagasse’s third shot hit the flag, which slowed it down, and then the ball hit the pin on the way down towards the hole, and almost went straight into the hole before rolling away about 18 inches. The fortunate bounce led to crowd cheers and also appeared to give Lagasse a bounce in his step.
Lagasse showed he was back on track in the holes that followed hole 13 because he went on a streak, matching Glumac’s score all the way until the final results were decided on the 18th hole. He was able to do this despite the lightning threat that forced all golfers to stop play for nearly two hours.
“I didn’t play for two whole hours…and during that time I got know Mr. Glumac very well,” Lagasse said about his opponent who is also sponsored by the Flutie Foundation.
Lagasse and Glumac had both landed the green in one on the par 3 hole 15 before the weather warning horn sounded and sent them back to the clubhouse without the opportunity to even attempt their birdie putts.
The two Flutie Foundation-sponsored golfers remained tied and had mixed feelings about the time inside. They were able to calm down a bit and bond with each other as they sat inside at the same table. However, the long break interrupted their flow, as play did not resume until nearly 2:00 PM.
Play Resumes after Long Wait
The long wait seemed to impact them because despite taking the time to stretch a bit, they were not allowed to take any practice putts or drives. As a result, all three golfers ended up above par once play resumed on the 15th hole. However, they quickly refocused on the 16th hole as they all made par. These golfers were close together once again with just two holes left to decide their fate.
It was clear that Lagasse was correct about how this day was going to be a duel. As the streak continued with the golfers matching each other hole for hole, blow for blow like heavyweight fighters, I overheard Glumac say in a lighthearted way, how the day was “getting kinda of boring.” It was clear that these golfers had the utmost respect for each other and knew that the Gold medal would be dependent on their performances to come on the tough 17th (par 5) and 18th (par 4) holes. They were clearly enjoying the competition that was pushing them both to stay focused on their goal to win the four-day tournament that had them tied through 70 holes.
After a strong drive on the 17th hole, Glumac appeared to be in a good position to gain a stroke to set him up with a good chance to win Gold. However, Lagasse overcame a difficult tee shot that landed in an area with a bunch of trees. It was clear that Lagasse could not reach the green in two shots so he decided to take a more conservative second shot. His ball landed off the very wide green to the far left with about 60 feet of green between his ball and the pin. Lagasse then hit a great chip shot to land about 6 feet from the hole and was able to save par with a solid mid-range putt, similar to putts he was able to make all day.
Meanwhile, despite Glumac’s great drive on the par 5 hole, he appeared to purposefully lay up as a large bunker was in front of the green and he wanted to avoid it. His second shot landed short of the green but then he chipped on the green to reach it in three shots. However, his birdie attempt went a few feet past the hole. This left Lagasse and Glumac tied for the tournament with only the final hole remaining.
My dad/cameraman suggested we drive our golf cart to where the spotter was standing to watch the three golfers tee off. When Lagasse landed his drive past the spotter with a great lie in the middle of the fairway, the spotter commented that it was the best drive he had seen all day. George Kent, Lagasse’s caddy, called it “clutch.”
“It was a textbook drive; that’s all I can say about that,” Lagasse said after he signed his scorecard.
Since Lagasse teed off first, Glumac had even more added pressure to hit the ball well as it appeared clear that Lagasse could reach the green easily in two shots. However, Glumac’s tee shot ended up going down the left side of the fairway fringe and was about 50-75 yards behind Lagasse’s first shot. With Lagasse in a perfect position to go for the green in two shots, Glumac seemingly had no choice but to try and reach in two shots as well. His second shot landed in the hazard area with tall grass and thick bushes. Despite help from Lagasse and Condon, the ball was not found and Glumac had to take a penalty stroke which ultimately gave Lagasse a great opportunity to win Gold.
Lagasse landed his second shot just to the right of the green, but the pin was positioned close by, about 15 feet away. He noted later that if he aimed left of the pin to adjust for the wind, he could have landed the green, but he was still able to recover. He nearly chipped in for birdie and the win, rolling a foot from the hole. Even without making the chip, Lagasse was well ahead of Glumac and in line to win Gold. He marked his ball and raised his hat and club to the crowd as he waited for Glumac and Condon to finish before taking his final shot to win the tournament in front of an excited crowd.
Take a look at the shot-by-shot video coverage from the final hole that captures the final few shots that sealed the victory Gold for Lagasse and Silver for Glumac:
Glumac ended up with a triple bogey to finish the day with an 80 (+8). He finished the tournament three strokes behind Lagasse and won Silver. Condon shot an 85 (+13) to finish the tournament 10 strokes behind Lagasse and win bronze.
Below are scorecards, photos, and interviews from after the final round.
Tyler Lagasse: Gold Medal Scorecard and Interview
Matthew Glumac: Silver Medal Scorecard and Interview
Peter Condon Final Scorecard
Interview with Lagasse’s Mom, Deb Lagasse
Amy Bockerstette Interview
I also ran into the Level 5 golfer I interviewed on Wednesday, Amy Bockerstette. She recognized me after her round was complete and walked right up to me and gave me a big hug. After that, we had the chance to talk again briefly.
The Final Leaderboard
Closing Remarks after an amazing week
It’s been a pleasure covering these golfers, and I’m glad that the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism has allowed these golfers to thrive alongside my reporting.
We started and ended the week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, former home of the NBA bubble and current home base of the Special Olympics athletes. We watched exciting rounds of golf at the Orange County National Golf Center and spent some quality time with other people from the Foundation who had also come to the games.
We even watched Game 3 of the NBA Finals with Nick Savarese, the Foundation’s Executive Director, and celebrated together as the Celtics made clutch shot after clutch shot to take down the Warriors.
The Flutie Foundation made this amazing week possible. Lagasse was able to practice golf more often while working a part-time job at the PGA Tour Superstore. Glumac was provided new clubs from the Flutie Foundation so he didn’t have to use rentals. I was able to receive more media exposure thanks to Nick Savarese, Liz Monroe, Ethan Michaud, and the rest of the Foundation. I’m also thankful for Lagasse and Glumac for taking the time to seek me out for interviews.
All of us involved with the Foundation were there for each other throughout the games. Lagasse and Glumac were both looking to lift up each other’s golf games. We (Nick, Liz, Ethan, my Dad, and I) came together to watch all the golfers and also attended events to cheer for Flutie Foundation-supported performers at the games including Cierra June Reynolds as well as Jake and Sky Velazquez. We also kept each other updated about the battle on the golf course when we were not together.
There are many others I’d like to thank for helping make my coverage some of my best so far and apologies if I have missed anyone. Susan Storey at the Special Olympics went above and beyond to provide us full access to the USA Games and personally delivered my reporting equipment I left at the ESPN Media Resource Center on day two. Lee Williamson of the Orange National Golf Center was also very supportive and gave us information about tee times and made sure we had a golf cart to beat the heat and keep up with the golfers to capture all their big moments on film. Josh Vorensky of ESPN, an Ithaca College alum who covered the 2018 Special Olympic Games in Seattle, helped out a bunch even while on vacation. Jen Lada of ESPN (also worked in Seattle Games) kept us connected with the reporters on-site. Lagasse’s mom, Deb Lagasse, kept us posted on things we may have missed. Andrew Gomez from Team Iowa sent me some pictures from the week that I was able to use in this post. Amy Bockerstette and her dad Joe took the time for two interviews with me in between ESPN coverage that had them in high demand.
Most importantly, and last but not least, I’d like to thank my dad/cameraman/assistant Ken Roberts. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without his help recording and combing through footage I needed. We also had to work through our fair share of challenges, like a dead car key battery needed to drive our rental car, storage issues on our devices, leaving items behind at multiple locations, and trouble getting into our hotel late at night after investing extra hours to review, report, edit, and create reports on the day’s events. Without my dad’s attention to detail and problem-solving abilities, I don’t know how I would have handled all these challenges alone. I feel fortunate to have a dad that shares my passion for sports and pushes me to learn and improve from every sports reporting experience.
I plan to return to the Special Olympics Games in 2026 to cover Glumac, Lagasse, and many other impressive athletes that do not let their disabilities define them. If I am successful as an Ithaca College Park Scholar and further improve my sports media skills, I plan to return to the next Special Olympics USA Games in four years as a recent college graduate, and hopefully new employee of ESPN or other top sports media organization, ready to do whatever is needed to realize my dream to become a professional sports journalist.
Regardless of what future sports reporting experiences are ahead, I will never forget this week, and you can all relive my experience too. Check out all of my coverage from the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando here!