By Bob Denney, PGA of America
KOHLER, Wis. (PGA.com) -- PGA Professional Bruce Smith of Lewisville, Texas, calls the opportunity to compete in the 86th PGA Championship "the chance of a lifetime." He earned one of 25 berths to compete at challenging Whistling Straits after a one-hole playoff in June following the 37th PGA Club Professional Championship in Nashport, Ohio.
But, it was a short meeting Saturday with John Daly during a practice round that has left Smith both emotional and near speechless.
Smith, 37, the PGA Head Professional at The Trails of Frisco Golf Club near Dallas, Texas, did his pre-Championship practice before flying home Saturday to prepare for an Aug. 9 Kisses Fore Kennedy Celebrity Pro-Am at his club.
The inaugural charity event, coordinated between Smith and his wife, Kathleen, is intended to raise funds for their infant daughter Kennedy Smith, 2, who was born with lymphatic malformation of a portion of her face. The Smiths plan to use the tournament to support the medical costs for future surgery for their daughter and to support other children with lymphatic malformation.
The celebrity pro-am has attracted 186 players, including members of the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars and celebrities that include actor Chuck Norris.
Bruce Smith was playing ahead of Daly Saturday at Whistling Straits, when the long-hitting Tour star caught up with Smith on the 16th tee. Smith offered Daly to play through, but Daly wanted a partner.
"John asked me in the 16th fairway where I was from and I told him, and that I had to catch a flight back to Dallas to set up the charity event for my little girl," said Smith, "I asked him if I could run into the golf shop to find a few things that might be in an auction. He said, 'I can do you one better and get some items from my van and get them to you.' "
Smith and Daly walked a little further down the fairway.
"John reached into his pocket and I thought he was giving me business card. But, he handed me a roll of bills," said Smith. "John said, 'Here, put that in your foundation.' I peeled the bills apart, and there was $1,000. I was pretty choked up about it, and I still am.
"John Daly has had a lot of things happen to him in his life, all of which have been chronicled by many people. But, what he did for a complete stranger is amazing, and it really shows you something about the man."
Kennedy Smith, one of three children of Bruce and Kathleen, will require periodic reconstructive facial surgery the rest of her life. The family's medical insurance, Smith said, does not cover cosmetic surgery.
"I will never forget John and what he has done," said Smith. "I don't know if I will ever get another chance to play in a PGA Championship. But, I'm going to enjoy it no matter what I shoot. I feel very blessed right now."
Kathleen Smith, who said the entries for the pro-am have resulted after just eight weeks of preparation.
"It truly is a blessing and we are certainly excited about the response we have had," said Smith. "We plan in future tournaments to adopt a child that suffers from the same affliction and support them with this tournament. I will be a tired wife of a golf professional this week, but I will be a happy one."
Bruce Smith, the tallest member of the field at 6-foot-8, won't be hard to find at Whistling Straits this week. He will be the big guy from Texas wearing a 10-gallon smile.
The PGA of America, founded in 1916, is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the game of golf while continuing to enhance the standards of the profession. The Association is comprised of more than 28,000 men and women PGA Professionals who are dedicated to growing participation in the game of golf.
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