Today marks 7 years since I took a book out of the library and decided to start this blog, posting an MLB 2014 Preview. That’s pretty fitting considering my sports fandom began with baseball.
Just like I did in 2014 and have done in every year since, I’ll be posting my MLB season predictions before the season begins. For the second year in a row, I collaborated on these predictions with my cousin Michael. I made an appearance on his podcast, The Master Plan. I’ll have a post up about those this weekend. In the meantime, I have some special announcements to make.
I designed this new logo in commemoration of this 7 year blog anniversary as well as the upcoming Autism Acceptance Month this April:
When I was first diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, my parents were told I may never speak. I have made lots of progress since then, from learning to talk, read, and write, to discovering my passion for sports, to starting this blog. After starting this blog, I realized I wanted to become a professional sports journalist, and I have been lucky enough to have some experiences in the industry thanks to connections I’ve made through this blog.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the supportive communities that helped me along the way. That’s why I’ve launched a apparel fundraising campaign featuring this new logo to help give back to the autism community this April.
Click here or watch the video below for more information on this campaign:
I’m excited to be celebrating 7 years of Boston Sports Mania and Autism Acceptance Month with this campaign, and I look forward to keeping this website active for many years to come.
Next month is Autism Acceptance Month and I am running a fundraiser with Boston Sports Mania apparel where all profits will go to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. The Flutie Foundation is an organization who helps people and families affected by autism live life to the fullest.
Apex Entertainment decided to support me again when they learned I designed a new Boston Sports Mania logo to commemorate my 7 year blog anniversary, and also recognize the Flutie Foundation for their contributions to my success. As you can see from the logo below, the Flutie Foundation logo represents the second “O” in the word Boston.
Receive a FREE Apex Entertainment attraction voucher with every purchase of BostonSportsMania.com apparel
The Boston Red Sox have also joined to help the apparel campaign. As a result, you can win an additional prize just for placing an order.
The largest three April orders by total order dollar amount will win an additional prize as follows (please see photos below of the prizes):
1st place prize: Autographed Chris Sale jersey 2nd place prize: Autographed Rafael Devers baseball 3rd place prize: Autographed box of Flutie Flakes (from the Flutie Foundation)
I also want to give a special thanks to Spectrum Designs, a business that helps individuals with autism lead full and productive lives through the world of work. They produced the apparel and donated the ordering website.
The best part of this campaign is that every dollar raised will benefit the autism community in some way, because the Flutie Foundation helps people and families affected by autism and Spectrum Designs employs people with autism.
Purchase your apparel to support the Flutie Foundation by clicking HERE
Today, I watched my godfather Mark Goldfinger run the 2019 Boston Marathon, his sixth of the six Abbott World Major Marathons. Mark, along with 5000+ others is a “Six Star Finisher”. According to their website, “The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. The races take place in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City.”
Mark and his mom stayed a night with us Friday night, and I got the chance to ask him a few questions about his marathon running career.
Mark’s dad Norman passed away last year in San Diego after a battle with prostate cancer. Until then, both his parents went to cheer him on at every marathon he ran, and his mom Dorene has continued to do so. She even followed him around in Tokyo where it was below freezing and hailing on race day. In honor of his dad, Mark has run all six marathons for cancer charities.
“I think what’s motivated me is being able to do something that not everyone can, but people want to do. There’s a lot of people I run my marathons for; I’ve run all six of them for a cancer charity, the last three have been in honor of my father, and I like running and raising awareness for people who can’t necessarily run or raise awareness for themselves,” Goldfinger said.
Mark ran in his hometown marathon, New York in 2013.
“So far, the New York City marathon in 2013 has been my favorite. It was my first marathon; the crowds were nonstop the entire 26.2 miles; my dad, my mom, my friends, and my family were all there, and it was really the marathon that gave me the inspiration to continue running,” Goldfinger said.
Boston was his 5th of the Abbott World Major Marathons in 2 years. After New York, he continued his running career, running the London Marathon and the Berlin Marathon, which were just 5 months apart in 2017. In London, ESPN featured him in a documentary. He set his personal best in Berlin.
After his dad’s passing in 2018, he ran in Chicago, Tokyo, and lastly Boston to complete his six stars.
“I was born and raised in New York, so I always knew that had to be my first race,” Goldfinger said. “About 2-3 months after running New York City, I learned that Abbott World Majors had six major marathons. Knowing that I had already completed one of them, and that I wanted to do Boston, I thought it would be really cool if I could figure out how to do the next four as well and then finish in Boston.” “I knew I couldn’t end on any other race except for Boston.”
Mark told me later on that the reason he wanted to finish in Boston was because of its history as one of the world’s most prestigious marathons.
On Saturday, we went with Mark and Dorene to the Boston Marathon Expo where runners could pick up their bibs prior to the race. Mark told me that things start to feel real for him when he picks up his number for the race.
But before he was able to receive his bib, we had to pass through an airport-like security checkpoint with a metal detector. This reminded me of the reason this security was added: the Boston Marathon Bombings of 2013. Last year, I wrote an experiential essay about how I learned the true meaning of Boston Strong.
I had never been to this expo before, so this was a unique experience for me. I was able to see where runners picked up their numbers and explore the various marathon-related booths and displays.
I learned a little more about the Abbott World Marathon Majors, bought a Dunkin Donuts Boston Marathon t-shirt, and took pictures with Mark and the rest of the family at a press photo station.
As per Mark’s request, we cheered him on from the midway point in Wellesley. Mark is the first Six Star Finisher that I know, and he is very important to me. Not only is he my godfather, but his dad Norman was my mom’s godfather.
This is the sign we made for Mark and held up when he ran by us in Wellesley.
We were able to track Mark on the official Boston Marathon app. We had plans to give him high fives when he passed by, so we tried to figure out exactly when he would arrive. We held up our sign when the tracker said he was close so he could find us.
Mark was running with his friend Danny Elphinston, who has run all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors with Mark and received his Six Star medal with Mark.
Though Mark and Danny passed by quickly and we barely had time to say hello, it was pretty cool to watch my godfather run the Boston Marathon live. We watched him right in between Miles 14 and 15. Soon after seeing us, he would go on to face Heartbreak Hill, the hardest part of the Boston Marathon. For most of the marathon, Mark was running 8-minute miles. On Heartbreak Hill, Mark was forced to slow down to about a 10-minute mile.
In the meantime, the elite runners finished the race. Kenyan Lawrence Cherono led the males, just 1 second ahead of 2nd place in the closest finish since 1988. Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa led the females. Though we did not see Mark cross the finish line live, we did catch him on a livestream and I got the chance to talk to him after he finished.
“Today was a tough day,” Goldfinger said about his Marathon Monday. “I was hoping for a much better time, but the legs just didn’t want to turn. That being said, I’m excited to be part of the World Major Marathon Club and needless to say, I’ll be back to make up for my time today.”
Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day. As you may know if you have read this blog before, I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Doctors said I may never speak. But almost 14 years later, not only am I talking, I am a budding sports journalist who has written this blog for 5 years.
In honor of Autism Awareness Day, the Boston Herald asked me to tell my story for today’s paper! I met Joe Sciacca, the editor-in-chief of the Boston Herald at a Red Sox game in 2015. Since that day, I have gained multiple exciting sportscasting experiences from the Herald, including guest co-hosting a Boston Herald Radio show.
Now, I also serve as a Flutie Fellow for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism so I’d like to share a story about a Dougie’s Team Boston Marathon runner named Michael Palmer. Leading up to the marathon, he started something inspirational within the autism community. Below is my video about Michael alongside what I said in the video:
For Michael Palmer, running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Doug Flutie, Jr Foundation for Autism has personal meaning. Michael has Aspergers. He wants to spread the message that people on the autism spectrum are not alone in their daily struggles to connect with others.
Michael literally spread his wings in creating a “snow angel challenge” as part of his marathon efforts. Michael put out the challenge for people to overcome their fears and barriers and support people like him who overcome challenges daily. I can relate to Michael’s challenges and I am grateful for his efforts, as they benefit me as well. I’m Flutie Fellow Andrew Roberts, and thanks in part to Michael’s efforts, the Flutie Foundation is helping me pursue my goal of being a sports broadcaster.
Michael’s “snow angel challenge” spread through other team members and friends of the Flutie Foundation. Then, recently-retired All-Pro New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski got word of the challenge. While he didn’t jump in the snow, Gronkowski did participate in his own way. Thanks Gronk!
If you’d like to support Michael Palmer’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for autism, please check out the Flutie Foundation website at FlutieFoundation.org.
This is not the last of my Boston Marathon coverage. I will be writing more runner spotlights this year, including one about a runner for Get Air Sports, a partner of the Flutie Foundation. On a side note the Pats need a replacement for Rob Gronkowski who had fun in contributing the video for Michael. Will they address the TE position in the draft? Find out what I think in my upcoming 2019 NFL Mock Draft.
Stay tuned for more sports coverage soon. But as the Herald headline noted, my sportswriting journey is only just getting started.
Below is my video recap of the 19th Annual Flutie Golf Classic as well as the script. I was there for my Flutie Fellowship, and I had a blast.
The 19th Annual Flutie Golf Classic took place at the Brae Burn Country Club this past Monday, September 17. The turnout was great and the foundation raised lots of money. Golfers arrived ready for a fun day of golfing, a buffet-style dinner, silent auctions, and more. Golfers checked-in outside the clubhouse, then they got into their golf carts and they were off.
Tyler Lagasse, Special Olympics golf silver medalist who was sponsored by the foundation, stayed at Hole 1. This was a team tournament, so the place where longest drive of the four team members landed is where everyone took their second shot. Tyler would drive a ball for each group. That way, if a team didn’t like their drives, they could use Tyler’s.
This year, Doug Flutie insisted on golfing the entire course rather than staying at one hole, so he joined a team with his family members to compete.
There were many other people out golfing, including Steve Burton of WBZ, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, Charles Hirsch of Special Olympics, Jayme Parker, formerly of NESN, Sean MacLaughlin of APEX, David Morris of TripAdvisor, Dan Alperin and Bob Socci of 98.5, Alexa Flutie’s husband Ian Sumner, other family of Doug including Billy Flutie, Danny Fortier, Jeff Fortier, Joe Fortier, and Ryan Fortier, former Flutie dad of the year and Doug Flutie’s long-time friend Alan Seymour.
On the 15th hole, Nationwide Hole in One provided golfers with their “Golf Ball Cannon”. They charged $20 per shot, but if all four golfers in a group made the green with the cannon, it was an automatic eagle, and the closest golfer to the pin would win a ticket package, where they could buy 2 tickets to any sporting event, play, or concert of their choice!
We did not capture the winning shot on camera, but we know that the winner had shot the ball within 59 inches of the pin!
After the tournament, everyone returned to the clubhouse to chat, enjoy appetizers and bid in the silent auctions. At around 6PM, they served dinner, and Nick Savarese of the Flutie Foundation as well as Doug Flutie himself gave us an update on the foundation and how Dougie is doing. After that, Tyler Lagasse went up as a guest speaker with an inspiring speech about autism. Tyler and I helped the foundation’s Nicole Guglielmucci hand out the awards, and we said our goodbyes.
I had a blast at the event, and I’m also looking forward to the 19th annual Flutie 5K in just two weeks! Time has really flown by. It feels like I just emceed the 18th annual a couple months ago, and I was invited back to emcee again this year. Feel free to stop by and say hello at the 5K.
We met at the sports simulators and I introduced Tyler and his mom to my mom and my brother, Ryan, who could not make it for the Seattle trip. After that, APEX set us up for a round of golf, and we went live on Facebook. The video includes Tyler’s first swing at the APEX golf simulator. Here’s a sneak peek:
We had the entire evening planned out as seen below:
Since it was my first time playing any kind of golf (besides mini-golf), it took at least five swings for me to get the hang of it. But with the help of Tyler, I caught on fairly quickly. Since he is a lefty, he was especially helpful because watching him was like looking in the mirror. By my 10th swing, I was driving the ball almost 100 yards in the simulator. We only had time for a couple of holes, and Tyler dominated, but I still really enjoyed it. I’m definitely eager to give the golf simulator another try, and you never know, golf could be a sport I could try to play. Of course my broadcasting career will still come first.
Here are some highlights of Tyler and I at the golf simulator:
After finishing at the golf simulator, we had a few minutes to spare before our reserved private go-kart race. We decided to take each other on in a Boston Celtics basketball arcade game. I beat Tyler in this one, totaling over 60 points in two rounds. After our basketball competition, it was time to race.
Tyler, Ryan, my dad, and I were all in the race. We walked back to the go-kart track and put our head socks on. We watched a video on safety rules before putting our helmets on and getting settled in our go-karts. They started the race very soon after. After passing Tyler and my dad early, I knew I was doing well.
I beat Tyler by 0.119 seconds with a fastest lap of 38.015, but came in 2nd to my dad, who’s best time was 36.339. Tyler’s fastest time was 38.134, putting him in 3rd place. He was a few seconds ahead of Ryan, who had a best time of 41.441.
Here are the results, taken directly from an email I received from APEX after the race:
Thank you for your visit.
Here you can find your results.
Results for Session 30 at 5:18 PM
killerken (my dad)
Ryguy335YT (my brother)
Unlike last time, APEX gave us a sheet with more detailed results:
Here are some highlights from the race:
After that, we headed upstairs to the classic arcade section. We started by facing off in a few rounds of Olympic bubble hockey.
In the first game, there were no goals for a long while, but Tyler beat me 1-0 after I accidentally shot it into my own goal. However, I won the second game, and we both wanted a rubber match. In the rubber match, it was a close one, as Tyler led 2-1 with seconds to go (It requires a goal to end the game). If I scored, it went to overtime. But after a lot of good defense, Tyler scored the game-winning goal to make it 3-1.
Tyler wanted to play Aerosmith pinball after that, one of my favorites. It wasn’t my best day in pinball, but even if it was a good day for me, I wouldn’t have beat Tyler. He had never played pinball before but he was a quick study, scoring over 30000 points, earning the multiball, and a winning a free game. Here are some highlights from the arcade:
Tyler played out his free game, but after that, it was time to bowl. Tayla Normandie, who was assisting Sean MacLaughlin in hosting us for the day, booked us for candlepin in Lane 1. It turned out that Tyler’s mom had Tayla as a cosmetology student at Greater Lowell Tech, where she teaches. She recognized Tayla at that point and caught up with her. After that, Tayla gave us our bowling shoes, and Tyler, Tyler’s mom, my dad, and I began bowling.
We were given full Pit Stop Tavern service from the lanes, and I ordered a delicious chicken tender and french fry meal with BBQ sauce on the side and a Sprite to drink. Tyler ordered buffalo chicken tenders, one of his favorites. I topped Tyler in our first round of bowling. I had my best round in a while, including a strike on Frame 2. But my dad had his best round in a long time with a strike of his own and a grand total of 93. Between all of our competitions, Tyler and I were tied 4-4. So we decided to play one more game of candlepin bowling, just the two of us. I was off to a strong start, but Tyler just got better as he played, and he came back to beat me in a close one. Check out some of the highlights from the bowling alley:
Below are all our competition results from throughout the day. It is almost like we played each other in a mini Olympics.
It turned out that there was a podium at the APEX, so before we said our goodbyes, Tyler and I took a picture on the podium based on our results from throughout the day.
I’d like to thank Marcus Kemblowski, Sean MacLaughlin, Tayla Normandie, Tyler Lagasse, Nick Savarese, and Deb Lagasse for making this experience possible. Stay tuned for more experience posts soon, including coverage of the Special Olympics Massachusetts golf championship.
98.5 The Sports Hub has recently partnered with both APEX Entertainment and the Flutie Foundation. Since I am a Flutie Fellow and I spend time at APEX regularly, 98.5 invited me into their studio to record a PSA about my blog, my fellowship, and how APEX Entertainment and the Flutie Foundation are supporting my career efforts. I went to record the PSA yesterday at the new 98.5 studio which is bigger, brighter, and more modern than their last studio.
Dan Alperin, a Senior Account Manager at 98.5, greeted us shortly after we arrived and he took the time to show us around the new studio before we recorded the PSA. I saw Zolak & Bertrand, 98.5’s weekday 10AM-2PM show, broadcasting live in the new radio studio. After that we headed to the recording studio, where Roger Moore, one of 98.5’s producers, was waiting.
He had the PSA copy ready when we arrived. The actual copy I used for the PSA is pictured below. It is typed up in ALL CAPS intentionally as it makes it easier to read. It is also used to ensure timing for the recording, which in my case was a 30-second spot.
Since I had practiced on the way over, I was able to record the PSA very quickly. Roger was very pleased and impressed since I was able to finish the recording in just 3 takes. Here’s a video of part of my original recording takes:
After that, Roger worked his magic. He played around with the recording and picked out my best audio for each portion of the PSA and balanced my “EQ”. EQ is short for equalization of my audio so I would sound at my best. After that, he added music, and in just about 10 minutes, he was done, and the PSA was ready to send to APEX for approval. We saved the PSA on a flash drive, and I put together a quick video to go along with the professionally produced audio.
We took a couple pictures in the studio before we left.
With Roger Moore
With my dad
Dan told us the PSA would be on air by next week if not this week. On our way out, we ran into Scott Zolak, who’s show was on break. We took a picture with him outside the studio where Zolak & Bertrand was on-air.
Here’s a couple more pictures of my dad and I from around the studio:
Before we left, Dan let us know about the next Mr. Sid event. On September 6th, they will have another NFL Kickoff event like last year at Mr. Sid in Newton. He also invited us to a party at the APEX this week. I was already planning to be there on Monday with Tyler Lagasse but twice in the span of a week was good with me because I always have so much fun there.
I’d like to thank the APEX Entertainment Center, Dan Alperin, Roger Moore, and the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism for making all this possible. I cannot believe I am going to be on the air for the next several weeks on Boston’s #1 sports radio station! It’s truly AMAZING!
For the 3rd and final round on the 4th of July, Scott Rohrer started the day with a solid lead. His playing partners for the day, Peter Condon of Washington was 7 strokes back and Thomas Cleek of Missouri was 8 strokes back. Tyler Lagasse was also 8 strokes back and started on hole 2, just 1 hole in front of Scott in the shotgun start.
All the golfers were strong off the tee from the beginning and early on it was Scott’s strength as it had been for most of the 3-day tournament.
The greens seemed to be playing even tougher on this final day as it had been mostly dry and sunny on day 2 and it was a very clear and sunny day right from the start of the day 3. It showed, as Scott and his partners struggled with putting on the 1st green and it continued for Scott for the first 8 holes. It showed in his scores as he started double bogey, bogey, bogey on the first 3 holes and was 5 over as he waited to tee off on the Par 3 9th hole with Tyler putting for birdie on the green of the same hole.
Tyler came out on fire, playing aggressive and with confidence and was even par through his first 7 holes with a birdie on 4 to offset his bogey on 2, his first hole of the day. Since the tee box was moved closer on the 8th hole to make it a par 3 hole for the tournament, holes 7, 8, and 9 were all par 3’s so Scott’s group had caught up to Tyler’s and Scott was waiting for them on the 9th tee box as Tyler sunk his birdie, making him one under.
At this point in the round, Scott knew he was not playing his best and seeing Tyler’s birdie probably got his competitive juices flowing, especially after he had just bogeyed hole 8.
Scott then hit his tee shot on the 9th green landing his ball about 5 feet away from the hole. Scott let himself know and everybody in the crowd know that he was still fighting for gold as he fist pumped and yelled “boom” as he did on all of his big successful putts in this tournament.
That was the start of a tournament clinching stretch of holes from 9 through 16. On the 10th hole, Scott pitched in for eagle from deep rough over the high mound of the back of the green. Scott was so far away from the hole that we could only capture the ball popping up in the air and rolling into the hole as you heard Scott and then the crowd, roar.
At that point it was clear it was going to be Scott’s day to win Gold for the 3rd straight Special Olympics USA Games. After the very exciting and momentum changing 9th and 10th holes, Scott had only 2 bogeys for the rest of the day. He finished the last 4 holes with birdies on 15 and 16. As he approached his putt on 18, he walked with confidence knowing he had the lead on his two playing partners for the day and that his par putt on 18 was likely for the win.
I watched Scott beam with pride as he spoke to Jen Lada of ESPN first. He wanted to give me the first interview but I was happy to wait, watch, and learn as Jen with her producer Josh Vorensky and the ESPN camera crew conducted their interview for the station’s Special Olympic coverage. Jen pointed Scott in my direction after her interview was finished and he was happy to speak to me.
Tyler Lagasse had won silver for the 3rd straight Special Olympic USA games, 6 strokes behind his friend and first round partner Scott Rohrer. Scott’s finish was too strong for Tyler to catch up. Tyler was still all smiles because he loves the game and he gave it his best effort to go for Gold. I met with him after his round was over.
I had an unbelievable week with Scott and Tyler. Without them and the Doug Flutie Jr Foundation for Autism who sponsored all 3 of us, none of the experiences I had would have been possible.
I started my journey in Seattle with a tour of Eagle’s Talon where Tyler and Scott would battle it out with the other Olympians for 3 straight days. My tour included the Hole 3 green known for its beautiful view of Mount Rainier. It was too overcast to see the mountain that first day but over the next several days while following the games, the sky cleared up and Mount Rainier slowly came into view.
Me at Hole 3 of Eagles Talon during my Day 1 tour. It was overcast, so I could not see Mount Rainier.
My week kind of went the same way as I came into the week unclear on what I would do and how it would come together.
But in the end, each day I grew as a reporter and as a person looking up to Tyler and Scott as I learned of their stories and how they have achieved so much by working so hard. Over the week I had time with Deborah Horne of KIRO 7 news who put my dad and I on the air. I got to cheer the athletes at Husky Stadium for an unbelievable Opening Ceremony. That same day, I had the chance to visit the Space Needle in Seattle Center. On my last day I met and interviewed with Podcaster Colin Weston of ModGolf. I also even learned a few tips directly from Jen Lada of ESPN.
But this trip was about all the inspirational athletes I saw at the Opening Ceremonies and especially about Tyler and Scott because they were why I was in Seattle. To me it was fitting that on the last day as Scott and I reached the 3rd hole for the last time that Mount Rainier was visible for the first time all week. These golfers had reached yet another summit and I got to share the experience with them. They have inspired me and many others to keep pushing to be the best you can be.
Behind the scenes, this trip was not easy for me and at times I got very frustrated when things did not go as I expected. However, just like for Tyler and Scott on the golf course, I was able to find focus on camera. Now I know I have to keep working to improve my skills to be the best me I can be. With this life changing opportunity to be a Flutie Fellow covering such an exciting national event and travel to Seattle for the first time, I am one step closer to reaching my goal to become a Professional Sports Broadcaster.
Below are the final results of the Special Olympics USA Games Level V Golf Tournament:
Note: Divisions M01-M03 are High Performance (Blue Tees), the rest of the golfers (M04-M07) teed off from the White Tees.
If there was only one thing I could say to describe the current state of the USA Games Level V Golf Tournament, it would be that this is still anybody’s game. The Flutie Foundation sponsored golfers, Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer, came to Seattle as the heavy favorites to win gold and silver medals, and Scott is currently leading the tournament by seven strokes. But Peter Condon of Washington, Brock Aoki of Utah, and Thomas Cleek of Missouri among other golfers have challenged Tyler and Scott through 2 days on a course with greens playing very fast causing many 3-putts and few 4-putts.
Peter Condon is currently in 2nd (+22) after shooting an 82 (+11) in both rounds. Tyler Lagasse is tied for 3rd with Thomas Cleek, and Brock Aoki is in 5th after starting Round 2 as the leader. However, Cleek, Lagasse, and Aoki are all within two strokes of 2nd place.
Unlike Day 1, Tyler and Scott were not paired up. Tyler was paired with Tony Marino, and they started on Hole 3. Scott started on Hole 2 with Chris Lussier and Thomas Cleek.
Despite facing more putting challenges than yesterday, Tyler Lagasse did well again today, shooting an 86. “There were some putts that just didn’t break the way I wanted them to and other times it was just a case of the yips” (Tyler Lagasse). He had some very strong moments, like his birdie on the par 5 hole 11, and an excellent par save on Hole 18, which he said was his best hole.
On hole 18, his drive did not reach the fairway but he made 2 great shots to reach the green in 3 shots despite the long yardage he had to make up on the long and difficult 566 yard par 5 hole.
Tyler did have some very nice drives and had little difficulty sticking the green when he needed to. He pulled out the driver more often, trying to play more aggressively than yesterday. I asked him why he used his driver more and he said, “I just had to be aggressive, I was getting a little bit emotional, I just wanted to push myself to be the best I can possibly be.”
Scott Rohrer played even better than he did in round 1, shooting a 76 (+5) to take the tournament lead. In response to my question about how he thinks he did today vs. yesterday, he said, “I played a lot better than yesterday, I’ve improved somehow over the past day.” He was very consistent, making par on each of the first three holes. Like Tyler, he birdied the 11th. However, he has no doubt in his mind that his best hole was hole 1, which due to the shotgun start on hole 2, he actually ended his round on hole 1. He had a huge drive on the 386 yard par 4 that nearly landed the green in one. He says it was his longest drive in the two tournaments he has played at Willows Run.
For some video footage from the day, including my stand-up live from Willows Run and my interviews with Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer, see below:
Although Scott Rohrer has a 7-stroke lead, we have learned from this week to expect the unexpected and that the leaderboard can shuffle around very quickly. Someone who is in 4th or 5th right now could be the leader in their division by the end of the final round on the 4th of July. Who will take home the gold? Will Scott hold on to the lead for his third straight gold medal at the USA Games, or will Tyler or someone else catch him?
It was cold and damp as the golfers waited in their carts to begin. The carts were used to speed up pace of play. Tyler won the toss to tee off first.
Both Tyler and Scott bogied on the first hole as their nerves seemed still high for the start of the tournament. They both bounced back in Hole 2, with Tyler just missing a birdie and Scott making one from a couple feet away.
One of Scott’s most challenging holes was the Par 4 3rd hole. He took a penalty stroke for hitting out of bounds but recovered with a solid 2-putt to finish the hole.
Both parred the 4th hole with each of them coming within a foot of a birdie on 10 foot or more putts.
On hole 5, Tyler just missed par but still gained a stroke on Scott, who just missed his bogey putt.
On the 7th hole par 3, Scott came within inches of a birdie off a putt of over 20 feet and then Tyler’s par putt almost rimmed out but went in.
Hole 8 was shortened to Par 3 and they both parred, but it was their partner, Travis Curtis from Maine that dazzled on the Par 3 9th with a near hole in one.
On hole 11, both Tyler and Scott had chances for eagles with very long drives and solid shots with Scott landing on the green in 2 and Tyler on the back fringe. Tyler’s eagle shot got him within 10 feet but on his birdie attempt he rolled past the hole by a few inches. Scott’s birdie attempt reached the lip of the hole. A good hole for both golfers and the start of a strong back 9 stretch for Scott as he played 1 over for the final 8 holes.
Hole 12 was a very strange hole as Travis Curtis called for a rules official as his ball appeared to land in a divot-like hole on the green. Then there was a loud plane soaring over us as well. Tyler 4 putted the hole for a double bogey but then picked up his play and went 2 over on the last 6 holes.
On 13, all three golfers hit strong off the tee and landed within feet of each other. On Tyler’s second shot he landed at the very back of the green. Tyler’s putting came back strong when he hit a 50 foot putt within inches of the hole almost making a birdie and tapped in for par as did Scott.
On 14, Scott made a very exciting 20 foot putt for birdie, pumping his fist as the ball dropped in the hole. Tyler had a 3 foot birdie putt lip out of the hole after a tremendous tee shot but had to settle for a par tap in.
On 15 and 16, the tee shots of Tyler and Scott landed really close like they had on 13. Their scores were close too, as Scott had par and a bogey and Tyler was close to matching it, just missing a par putt on 16 to go bogey and par.
Hole 17 is Eagle’s Talon signature hole. It’s a par 3 over a lot of water and the tee was moved up. The green has 3 levels making putting difficult. Travis Curtis had his birdie putt just missed from 10 feet go in and out of the hole. Scott and Tyler each had very long putts for birdie and left themselves about 3 feet on either side of the hole. All 3 golfers got par.
The long par 5 18th hole was an adventure for all 3 golfers starting with Tyler’s tee shot got a lucky bounce off the cart path to avoid landing in a hazard area. Travis Curtis ended up with a 9 after getting in trouble with the water. In the end, both Tyler and Scott had 1 foot putts to end the round with a par but Scott’s putt just lipped out. Still, both golfers finished strong and within 2 strokes of each other. They hope to carry their momentum into tomorrow.
After the first round, Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer are 2nd and 3rd on the Special Olympics USA Level V Golfer leaderboard. I had the chance to talk to both Tyler and Scott moments after they signed their scorecard. Even though my cameraman (my dad Ken) had his first technical difficulty with one of my interviews, the audio came through for you to enjoy. I also had the chance to quickly speak to the Round 1 Leader, Brock Aoki.