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.
The Pirates play in the National Arena League (NAL), one of many Arena Football leagues across the country. The season takes place between April and August, ending right around the start of the NFL season. I’ve been to one Pirates game earlier this year when they played the Maine Mammoths back in May, so I knew that although Arena Football has many differences from NFL football, it was still very exciting.
Arena football is an 8 on 8 game. There are no designated running backs, but offensive linemen will sometimes run the ball. Typically, the starting offense is made up of a QB, three wide receivers, and four offensive linemen. The defense typically has three defensive linemen, two linebackers, and three defensive backs on the field. The Pirates fans are often called the 9th man, because like the Seahawks in the NFL, they are the league’s loudest fans. The game is played on a 50-yard field rather than a 100-yard field and is often played in hockey stadiums. Players will often be pushed into the boards which is considered out of bounds, but sometimes wide receivers dive over the boards to make catches and if they do, it’s considered a completion. The downsized field makes for much higher scoring. Although the uprights are narrower, kickers can often make it through the uprights on a kickoff from the opposite end zone, scoring what is often called a “deuce”, worth two points. The smaller field also makes it so nobody ever punts. On fourth down, teams will either go for it or go for a field goal.
The 10-5 Pirates were scheduled to play the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, the worst team by win-loss record in the NAL. They had not won a game all season long, and they were 0-14 going into this game, their final game of the regular season. The game was held at the DCU Center in Worcester, the home of the Massachusetts Pirates. The stadium also currently hosts the Worcester Railers, the ECHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, and was formerly home to the Worcester Sharks (now the San Jose Barracuda), the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate.
We all made score predictions on our way to the game:
We arrived at the game, bought some pizza, popcorn, and soft drinks, and took our seats. Before the game, the Pirates welcomed members of the Special Olympics of Massachusetts team, who were attending the game.
The game began and the Pirates got off to a fast start after the Steelhawks won the toss and deferred. Pirates QB Sean Brackett was out with a sprained ankle but QB Darron Thomas was doing a good job filling in. He completed a deep pass to WR Lavon Pearson to get the Pirates close to the end zone. A Pirates o-lineman ran in the TD to put the Pirates up 7-0. Steelhawks kicker Spencer Hotaling was off to a rough start. He attempted a “deuce” on the opening kickoff and missed. He also missed in a Steelhawks FG attempt, but the Pirates defense had shut down Lehigh Valley quickly in their first drive, making for a difficult kick. Despite a nice catch by WR Charles McClain, the Steelhawks were shut down again in their next drive, and Spencer Hotaling’s field goal attempt was blocked.
The Pirates scored another TD on a huge catch by WR Mardy Gilyard. He was being covered very closely by the defense, yet he still scored. Although Pirates K Ali Mourtada missed the extra point, he scored a “deuce” on the kickoff, making it 15-0 Massachusetts.
To start the 2nd quarter, Lavon Pearson made a catch that set the Pirates up to score another touchdown.
The Pirates scored another one soon after on a one-handed catch by Lavon Pearson. The Steelhawks did not make much progress offensively in the 2nd quarter, and they were so far behind that they had to start going for it every time on 4th down. With little time left in the half, the Pirates had one more scoring opportunity. Darron Thomas had one long pass that was deflected into the stands but completed a long pass on the next down to make it 1st and goal for the Pirates. The Pirates tried to eat some clock before scoring in order to make sure the Steelhawks did not get another chance before the half. But they lost the ball in a fumble, losing the opportunity to score. However, they were up 29-0 at halftime. The Steelhawks nearly scored on a nice pass just before the half but failed.
During the half, I enjoyed a mini football game between the Worcester Police Department and the Worcester Fire Department. More fans were rooting for the fire department but it ended in 14-14 tie. Here is some video I took of this mini-game:
The Pirates scored another pair of touchdowns in the third quarter. They scored one on a fumble by Steelhawks QB Patrick Ryan that was recovered for a TD by RJ Roberts, and the other on a deep pass to Lavon Pearson. Ali Mourtada scored a deuce after that one to make it 44-0 Pirates. Mardy Gilyard scored another TD just minutes into the 4th. Here is Gilyard’s TD:
The Steelhawks scored their only TD of the game by recovering their own fumble. The ball was nearly recovered by two Pirates players but found its way into the end zone, where Jason Johnson recovered it for the TD. The Pirates scored 2 more touchdowns before the end of the game. Lavon Pearson scored on a long ball to make it 58-7 Pirates, and another Pirates TD was scored when Spencer Hotaling missed a long field goal that Pirates DB John Hardy-Tulieau returned for the touchdown. Mourtada made one more deuce to make the final score Pirates, 67, Steelhawks, 7. My dad came the closest to predicting the score but we all overestimated the Steelhawks offense.
The Pirates, who finished the season 11-5, will play at home in the NAL semifinals next week. They will host either the #3 seed, the Carolina Cobras, or the #4 seed, the Columbus Lions. It all depends on whether the Jacksonville Sharks beat the Maine Mammoths tonight. If the Sharks win, the Pirates are the #2 seed and play Carolina. Otherwise, the Pirates are the #1 seed and host Columbus. The Steelhawks missed the playoffs after a 0-15 finish.
After the game, they allowed fans to walk onto the field for an autograph and photo session. Paul and I took plenty of pictures on the field, some of them with Pirates players. I gave the players and a couple fans my business card as well. Paul got his Pirates football signed by all the players we took photos with.
I even met Special Olympic powerlifter Joe Morrill, Team Massachusetts’ only powerlifter at the USA Games, on the field. He had his USA Games medals with him. He won two golds (combo and deadlift) and two silvers (bench press and squat). He had roomed with Tyler Lagasse in Marlborough before. Speaking of Tyler, I am meeting with him and his family at APEXtomorrow to celebrate his silver medal win at the USA Games, where I will go live on Facebook with Tyler and compete with him in simulation golf, go-kart races, Olympic bubble hockey, candlepin bowling, and other games.
I had a great time at the Pirates’ final game of the season. Arena football is fast-paced and very exciting. The rule differences from the NFL give football fans a nice indoor viewing experience during the NFL offseason. I’d like to thank Ann Fidrych, Jessica Fidrych, and the Mark Fidrych Foundation for making this amazing experience possible.
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.
I truly enjoyed my first full day here in Seattle. After a nice complementary breakfast from our hotel, we left for Opening Ceremonies. We stopped by the IMA building to grab our press passes and video bib, and my dad and I met some of the other press members at the Special Olympics. After we had our passes, we found a place to park our car, and we arrived at Husky Stadium just in time for the Parade of State Delegations.
I watched with excitement and pride as all the athletes marched into the stadium with their home state teams. I was even able to spot Tyler Lagasse in the group of Massachusetts Olympians. Tyler was also able to take a picture with Scott Rohrer, who despite being Tyler’s biggest rival, is also a good friend of Tyler’s.
After the ceremonies were over, I met briefly with with Tyler and his coach George and confirmed the three-some including Tyler, Scott, and Travis Curtis of Maine will all tee off on Hole 1 at Eagle’s Talon at 8:30 as part of a shotgun start for Level V golfers.
After the parade, we decided to go inside for food and shade, as it was getting warmer as the sun had come out. We couldn’t find food right away, and we wanted to find some USA Games merchandise, so we stepped outside the stadium for a minute. We filmed the 1st part of our Facebook Live video. If we had left even a few minutes later, we wouldn’t have been seen by the local CBS station, KIRO-TV (Channel 7 on most Seattle TVs). After seeing us film our live video, they decided to interview us about my coverage of the games and my Flutie Fellowship. They wanted to know my story and decided broadcast part of our interview with the news station and it aired on both the 5PM and 11PM news on July 1st. I was very excited to learn that they found my story interesting enough even with so many talented athletes to cover. We watched the report from our hotel room at 11:15 (see below) and we were told that the news story will also be posted on the station’s website
Just when we were about to leave to go find food in the city, we saw a room full of people who had pizza! It was perfect timing as we had searched at least half the stadium looking for pizza stands that were open. Although the pizza was technically for volunteers only, they let me have two free slices, and I gave out my business cards to all of them. They even let us stay to film the 2nd part of our live video.
After that, we headed back to the IMA to stop by the media room one more time.
We decided to stick around, as George, Tyler’s coach, wanted us to meet Tyler and Scott. George said they could meet at the media room after Opening Ceremonies ended. Scott had other plans he could not change, but we met with George and Tyler to discuss what kind of coverage we were going to do during the tournament. We wanted to make sure that our plans would not have a negative impact on Tyler or any of the other golfers.
After Opening Ceremonies, we went into the city to explore. We started our journey in Seattle at the iconic Space Needle, which was open despite construction that had the restaurant closed and parts of the observation deck blocked off.
We still got an amazing view and some nice pictures at the top of the needle.
After seeing the Space Needle, we were still hungry. We decided to get pizza again but this from Mod Pizza at Seattle Center, an indoor food court/plaza that also included a monorail station. They made our pizzas very quickly, and they came out great. I really enjoyed my time in the city. But now, it’s all about the athletes. We will be live from Redmond at Willows Run tomorrow. We can now officially say, “Let the games begin!”
I landed this afternoon in Seattle and after settling into the hotel, I decided to check out the Willows Run Eagles Talon golf course ahead of the level 5 Special Olympics USA golf tournament. When I arrived, I received a warm welcome from the staff. They gave my father the keys to a golf cart so we could tour the 6,800 yard 18-hole golf course that the Level 5 golfers will be competing on from July 2nd through July 4th. We made several stops along the course to take pictures and make a video (see below):
Starting with the Opening Ceremony this Sunday, July 1st, I will be in Seattle to cover the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games on behalf of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism. As a member of the press, I will follow golfers Tyler Lagasse of Massachusetts and Scott Rohrer of South Carolina. Both golfers are sponsored by the Flutie Foundation this year and as a member of the autism community, I am honored to report on these two amazing golfers and inspiring individuals.
Tyler and Scott have finished 1st and 2nd in each of the last two Special Olympics USA Summer Games (New Jersey 2014 and Nebraska 2010). Look for daily updates on Boston Sports Mania and on Flutie Foundation social media including their blog.
Read below to learn more about Special Olympians Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer.
A Brief Golf History: Tyler Lagasse
Tyler is a 31-year old autistic adult from Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. He began golfing in 2003 and has traveled to Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, Nebraska, and several other places for Special Olympics tournaments. He is a member of the Special Olympics hall of fame, won an honorary ESPY in 2017, and was even featured on a Golf Channel program in 2010. He co-authored a book about autism with his mom, published in 2015 called What Do You Say?: Autism with Character. Several times including 2014, along with a few other Special Olympics golfers, Tyler has been invited to the Pro-Am, a PGA event.
Tyler has never competed before on the 2018 Special Olympics course, Willows Run, but he has plenty of experience on 18-hole courses. At the 2017 Pro-Am tournament, he played a round with a personal best score of 70, par for the 18 hole course. He won silver at the 2008 Special Olympics National Golf Invitational in Florida as well as each of the last two USA Summer Games. While Tyler has never won gold on the national stage, he is hungry for his first gold medal. This past week, Tyler noted, “I want that gold medal so badly, I want to do whatever it takes to get it, because I may never have this opportunity again. To me as well as many others coming to Seattle, this is MY Olympics”. Tyler is clear very competitive but in the book he co-authored with his mother Deborah Lagasse, golf is also therapeutic for Tyler.
“Golf sometimes makes me come face to face with my demons inside. I consider golf a tool for dealing with adversity because I have faced endless adversity all my life; most of us do sometimes. Golf also helps me feel good about myself, tests my resilience and mental toughness. I learned so much about myself through golf and it’s given me an identity, something that fits my personality and golf has allowed me to put my personality on display” (Tyler Lagasse). Tyler also writes about every golf tournament in great detail so he was even able to provide me with some of his previous USA Games and Pro-Am stats. He is proud to be sponsored by the Flutie Foundation. “They’ve come out of their way in helping me surpass my fundraising goal for this year’s USA Games. I thank them for their support because they see me as a talented individual rather than one living with autism. And they see the gift that autism has, and that gift is hope” (Tyler Lagasse).
Tyler will be competing starting Monday July 2nd in the Level V Golf Tournament and his biggest competitor in this tournament will likely be Scott Rohrer, who is also being sponsored by the Flutie Foundation.
A Brief Golf History: Scott Rohrer
Scott Rohrer is an autistic adult from York, South Carolina. He has golfed for 20 years and he was 7 when he started. Scott had a personal and Special Olympics best of 71 (-1) in the opening round of the 2010 USA Games. He topped that score at the 2015 Los Angeles World Games. When another golfer beat that record, he only did better the next day. He scored a 60 on a par-66 course to break the Special Olympics World Record. He finished the tournament at a Special Olympics best -12. He has won 7 gold medals on the national stage, including a gold medal in each of the last two USA Games tournaments. Tyler Lagasse earned the silver medal in both of those tournaments. Scott has won medals at other tournaments as well including a bronze medal at the 2014 World Golf Cup.
Scott works on a tree farm with his dad, Jeff in York from Monday to Thursday each week but spends the weekend on the golf course. His golf games against his dad are pretty close but he usually out-drives his dad. His mom Elizabeth is his caddy. Scott can be very streaky. He came back from a triple bogey and bogey to start the day to score a second straight 75 on Day 3 of the 2010 USA Games. Golf brings Scott out of his shell, and people who play with him see him as a competitive golfer not as someone with autism who plays golf.
The big stage as Willows Run is set and now the question is will Scott Rohrer win another gold medal or will Tyler’s hunger and competitive spirit help lead him to victory and his first gold?
Previous Competitions Between Tyler and Scott
2010 USA Games
Scott won gold in this tournament, shooting 71-75-75, while Tyler won silver, shooting 79-78-75.
2012 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)
Tyler came in 3rd overall playing with Gary Woodland, shooting a 58 (-13). Scott shot a 64 (-7) playing with Brendan Steele.
2014 USA Games
Scott won gold for the 2nd consecutive USA Games tournament, shooting 76-78-78. Tyler won silver again, shooting 84-81-88.
2014 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)
Tyler came in 4th overall playing with Tommy Gainey, shooting a 55 (-16). Scott was not far behind, shooting a 59 (-12) with I.K. Kim.
2016 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)
Tyler (with Rod Pampling) and Scott (with Scott Langley) tied for 4th with a 52 (-19).
The Tournament Venue: Willows Run Golf Complex
Willows Run is located in Redmond, Washington, about 20 minutes from downtown Seattle. It includes two 18-hole courses, Eagles Talon and Coyote Creek, both of which are par-72 courses, just like the course that the 2010 USA Games golf tournament was held on. Special Olympics Level V golfers will be competing on Eagles Talon from 8:30 AM-3:30 PM every day from July 2-July 4. The course is over 6,800 yards in total and has a lot of long and narrow tree lined holes so hooking or slicing off the tee could definitely be dangerous. The greens are playing fast, even though it’s been wet the last few days.
There are 12 golfers participating in the high performance stroke play Level V competition, including Tyler and Scott. I have provided a little information on the other golfers in their competition below.
There are two divisions within the Level V high performance competition. Both divisions compete in the same pool, but Division 2 golfers are ranked separately for medals. Tyler and Scott are Division 1, while some of these other golfers are Division 2. Also, the expectation is the each day will begin with a shotgun start so that more golf is ongoing at once, starting at 8:30 AM.
Garrett Stortz, Alaska
Stortz joined Special Olympics in 2007, participating in field hockey. He eventually switched to his favorite sport, golf. He is a member of Division 2 in the high performance stroke play competition. He is eager to represent Alaska in the USA Games. Special Olympics has changed his life as he has met many new people who share his passion for golf. Stortz also participated in Level V Golf at the 2015 World Games in LA and the 2014 USA Games. He won the Division 2 gold in 2014 and Division 2 bronze in 2015.
Joel Murray, Louisiana
Murray is a longtime Special Olympics golfer who will be part of Division 2 in the Level V high performance competition. He has been invited to the Pro-Am before and was not far behind Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer the last time he competed in a Special Olympics national tournament (Nebraska 2010). He had a personal best 18-hole score of 73 in Nebraska and won gold in a lower division. He will also be competing in the Level V tourney in Seattle. Murray is a longtime Special Olympics golfer. Murray won the 2009 National Golf Invitational Level V Play and had the lowest score in Pro-Am history in 2013.
Travis Curtis, Maine
Curtis joined Special Olympics Maine in 2007. He will be participating in Division 1 of the Level V High Performance competition, but he has also played Unified golf in the past. He came close to a medal at each of the last two USA Games and is hopeful that he can bring a medal home from Seattle. He has won gold in the state competition each year since he started in 2007.
Thomas Cleek, Missouri
Cleek has been a multi-sport Special Olympian for over 10 years. He won gold in a lower division in the 2014 USA Games, where he last played on the national stage, but this year Cleek will be part of Division 1, where he will have tougher medal competition like golfers Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer. Can he take home a medal as he moves up into the highest division?
Chris Lussier, Rhode Island
Nicknamed the Mayor, Lussier has been competing in many sports for team Rhode Island over the last 10 years. He has also competed in unified competitions with his dad as his partner. They have developed a closer bond by competing together. Chris also met his girlfriend, Amy, and many other friends from Special Olympics. He won gold in the Level III Unified golf competition back in 2014. He also won a medal in golf at the 2010 USA Games, and he even won gold in the unified golf competition at the 2011 World Summer Games. This year, he will compete in the 2nd division of the Level V high performance individual stroke play competition.
Miles Stroud, Texas
Stroud has participated in multiple sports at Special Olympics for ten years. He says his favorite sport is definitely golf though. Miles has a handicap of 9.2 as he enters the 2nd division of the Level V high performance individual stroke play competition. He is a huge fan of all Texas A&M sports, and he cheers for the Aggies in his down time. He won gold as a part of Division 4 of the Level V competition at the 2012 Special Olympics National Golf Invitational with a 72-hole score of 301. Will Stroud take home a medal in Seattle as part of Division 2?
Brock Aoki, Utah
Aoki has been golfing since age 6 or 7, and will compete in Division 1 of the Level V High Performance competition. He plays golf in nearly all his free time, though he has just started a full time job as a chef. He may be dedicated to golf, but can he keep up with the scratch golfers in his division such as Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer?
Tony Marino, Utah
Marino started competing in Special Olympics at age 13. He will compete in Division 2 of the Level V High Performance competition. Marino has played as far away as China in Special Olympics golf. Marino was paired up with Tyler Lagasse in the Opening Round of the 2008 National Golf Invitational, and they got along well. Tony has also been a coach for Special Olympics. Marino is happy to travel around the world and participate in multiple sports thanks to Special Olympics.
Grace Anne Braxton, Virginia
Braxton is a long time Special Olympics golfer and swimmer. She has participated since 1981, and that was before Tyler Lagasse or Scott Rohrer was born. She was ranked #1 among female Special Olympic golfers in the world in both 2007 and 2011. She won the Division 2 gold at the 2010 USA Games and has participated in the World Games in 1991, 2007, and 2011, and won gold in both 2007 and 2011 when she was ranked #1 among females. She also participated in golf at the 2014 USA Games. Braxton will participate in the Division 2 High Performance Individual Stroke Tournament again this year in Seattle. Will she take home another medal?
Peter Condon, Washington
Condon has been playing golf since 2006. He will be part of Division 1, Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer’s division, in the Level V High Performance Individual Stroke Tournament. Condon has loved golf ever since he started and is eager to participate in his home state in this year’s USA Games. The question is, has he played on Willows Run before, and will home state advantage help him win a medal in a division that includes some of the country’s best?
Stay tuned for updates live from Seattle as the story unfolds.