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Tim Hipps/Special to American Forces Press Service
BETHESDA, Md., April 24, 2009 -Golfer Tiger Woods vowed April 20 to dedicate his AT&T National PGA Tour event to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces for the third consecutive year.
The AT&T National hosted by Tiger Woods will donate 30,000 tickets for retired veterans, active-duty troops, reserve-component servicemembers and their families to attend the tournament July 2-5 at Congressional Country Club.
Woods, who missed the tournament last year while recovering from knee surgery, will play the Earl Woods Memorial Pro-Am on July 1 with a foursome completed by servicemen and women, as he did in 2007, the tournament’s first year.
The Military Caddie Program again will feature troops serving as caddies for the pros on the seventh hole. Two years ago at that hole, Woods handed his putter to Army Sgt. Michael Woods, who knocked down a 12-footer for the play of the day at Congressional.
Wounded warriors will serve as honorary starters on the first tee box for the tournament’s opening ceremony July 1 at 11 a.m.
“Hopefully people come out, not only to watch the players, but also to say thank you to all of the servicemen and women that are coming out here,” Woods said. “If it wasn’t for them, what they are doing overseas, things might be different here.”
Early commitments to play in the 2009 AT&T National have been received from past tournament champions K.J. Choi and Anthony Kim, along with tourney newcomer Ernie Els, who won the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional.
European Ryder Cup team member Paul Casey, Jim Furyk and Danny Lee also have committed, said Greg McLaughlin, president of the Tiger Woods Foundation.
“There are various other military initiatives we will be doing during the week,” McLaughlin said. “Again, we want to continue our support of the military in this great community, and we plan on really making a nice showing here in 2009.”
Woods said he hopes to bring the buzz back to the nation’s capital.
“To have the military there and to have everyone support the event like they did the first year, … having the players just rave about it, having all the fans rave about it, it was just such a huge success,” he said. “We are just trying to build on that momentum that we created the first year.”
(Tim Hipps works at the Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command public affairs office.)