Good Competition marks the day of Special Olympics Golf Tournament

Danny Peaslee of Souris, Manitoba, Canada, has a seven-shot lead with a 41-42—83 in the Level 4 – 9-Hole Individual Stroke Play event after Round 2 of the 2011 Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament played Saturday at PGA Golf Club. A field of 177 golfers from 21 U.S. Special Olympics programs, plus programs from Bermuda and Canada, are competing in five levels of competition in the 12th annual national tournament.

Special Olympics golfers Grace Anne Braxton of Fredericksburg, Va., and Tyler Whitehurst of Palm Harbor, Fla., are tied with a two-day total of 175 in the Level 5 – 18-Hole Individual Stroke Play event. Braxton shot 83-92—175, while Whitehurst shot 84-91—175. The organizers and participants of the Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament fittingly recognized the 2nd Annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day on Saturday, when Special Olympics programs worldwide celebrate the founder of Special Olympics.In Level 3 – 18-Hole Unified Sports Team Play, Scott Rohrer (athlete) and his father, Jeff (partner), continue to play solid, improving their Round 1 low score of 80 with a 78 and a 158 total going into the final round. Scott was the record-setting gold medalist at last year’s Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament when he shot the 18-hole and 54-hole record of 71-75-75—221 in Level 5 – 18-hole Individual Stroke Play event.

In Level 2 – 9-Hole Alternate Shot Team Play, the team of Andrew Martinez (athlete) and Michael Martinez (partner) of Kansas City, Mo., came from two behind yesterday to lead Round 2 with a 48-45—93 and a two-shot lead over the team of Joseph Park (athlete) and Bob Boyle (partner) of Auburn, Ala., who shot 49-46—95.

The Level 1 – Individual Skills Competition tests competitors in six different shot-making skills and the highest score wins. After Round 2, Phillip Shepard of Mount Airy, Md., improved his score by nearly 20 points earning a 65-84—149 for first place going into the final round. Round 1 leader Jay Cromwell of Rockville, Md., scored 63 points in Round 2 for a cumulative total of 129 points.

“I did well today,” said Cromwell. “My favorite skills are the irons and the drive. The competition’s been good. I want to concentrate on my drives tomorrow and keeping my head down. I might win this, you never know.”

The Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament offers five levels of competition on the Ryder and Wanamaker Courses of PGA Golf Club, Sept. 23-25, 2011. Level 1 is an individual skills contest, where six golf skills are tested. Level 2 is alternate shot team play, where a Special Olympics athlete is paired with a non-Special Olympics partner of more advanced skill for a 9-hole competition. Level 3 is Unified Sports team play, pairing Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners of similar ability for an 18-hole competition. Levels 4 and 5 are individual stroke-play 9-hole and 18-hole competitions, respectively.

The tournament closed Day 2 with a special PGA Sports Academy Skills Contest at 2:30 p.m. at PGA Golf Club. Prizes were donated by The PGA of America, PGA Golf Club and Golf Digest. The PGA of America is a six-time host of the national tournament at PGA Golf Club and a sponsor of the Special Olympics golf program since 1988, the sport’s beginning with the global organization for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

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