LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – Scott Rohrer of York, S.C., shot a 77 Saturday and continues to skillfully play the par-72 Gold Course of The Wigwam Resort to take a commanding lead of the 18-hole individual stroke play competition (Level V) in the second round of the 2012 Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament. In the 9-hole individual stroke play competition (Level IV), John Stapleton of Elkridge, Md., shot a personal best 43 on the par-70 (36-34) Patriot Course for a three-shot leading heading into the final round.
Rohrer and Stapleton are among 203 golfers from 19 programs representing the United States and Canada competing in five levels of competition at the 13th annual tournament. KPMG, The PGA of America, USGA and PGA Tour are presenting sponsors of the 2012 tournament.
Rohrer shot 83-77—160 to lead the field by 18 shots. Rohrer was the record-making gold medalist at the 2010 Special Olympics National Golf Invitational Tournament when he shot the 18-hole and 54-hole individual stroke play record of 71-75-75—221 at the Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln, Neb. Last year, he played in the Level III Unified Sports team play 18-hole competition with his father, Jeff, winning the gold medal for the top men’s division. Tyler Whitehurst of Dunedin, Fla., the 18-hole individual stroke play gold medalist in 2011, remains in second place heading into the final round with an 86-92—178.
In the 9-hole individual stroke play competition (Level IV), Stapleton shot his personal best score by five shots for a 50-43--93, Stapleton overcame a first-round three-shot deficit to Ian Swain of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, who shot 47-49—96.
Kyle Bugge and Jake Hemelstrand (partner) of Bellevue, Neb., shot a second-round 88, including a birdie on the difficult par-4 15th hole, for a total of 174 and a nine-shot lead in the 18-hole Unified Sports team play competition (Level III) on the Gold Course. This is the first national tournament for Bugge and Hemelstrand, who are “having a blast” per Kyle, and stayed on after their round to cheer for the remaining teams to finish. Jesse Pease and Keith Pease (partner) of Sioux City, Iowa, remain in second place with 90-93—183.
Two teams are tied for the lead of the 9-hole Unified Sports team play competition (Level II) on the Patriot Course. The team of Brent Apo-Hruska and John Moen (partner) of Bellevue, Neb., Friday’s leaders, shot a 40-49—89 to share the second-round lead with Chris Ringot and Terry Ringot (partner) of St. Louis, Mo., who shot 44-45—89, including a birdie at the par-5 fifth hole. Chris Conant of Richmond, S.C., and Nick Short (partner) of Atlanta, Ga., shot the day’s best 9-hole team score of 44 for a two-day total of 90 and third place heading into the final round.
The individual skills competition (Level I) tests competitors in six different shot-making skills and the highest score wins. Shane Molovinsky of Rockville, Md., held his first-round lead by scoring 74 points Saturday for a two-day total of 146. Stanley Frederick of Frederick, Md., stayed in second place, scoring another 67 points Saturday for a two-day total of 134.
About the 2012 Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament
The 13th Annual Special Olympics North America Golf Invitational Tournament is being held Sept. 6-9, 2012, at The Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz. Special Olympics golf is part of the worldwide Special Olympics sports movement for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 200 golfers representing 18 U.S. states and Canada are competing in one of five levels of competition at the tournament. Opening Ceremonies began the tournament on Thursday, with three competitive golf rounds played Friday through Sunday. Awards ceremonies for the golf competition will take place immediately following the final round on Sunday.
Special Olympics Golf allows athletes to grow in the game as they gain experience. Level I competition consists of an individual skills contest, where six golf skills are tested. Level II is Unified Sports alternate shot team play, where a Special Olympics athlete is paired with a golfer without intellectual disability for 9-hole competition. Level III is Unified Sports team play, pairing Special Olympics athletes and golfers without intellectual disabilities for an 18-hole competition. Levels IV and V are individual stroke play 9-hole and 18-hole competitions, respectively. Tournament rounds begin daily at 7:00 a.m., Sept. 7-9, with Levels II & IV being played on the Patriot Course and Levels III & V on the Gold Course.
The Special Olympics golf program began in 1988 with the assistance of The PGA of America and USGA. Since then, both associations contribute to the growth of the program with grassroots training, rules education, tournament administration and national program financial support. The PGA Tour also provides ongoing financial support to the program. PGA Tour player Padraig Harrington and LPGA Tour player I.K. Kim are Special Olympics ambassadors for golf. Currently, more than 19,000 Special Olympics athletes participate in golf training and competition within 49 U.S. Special Olympics programs. Worldwide, more than 50 countries offer Special Olympics golf programs.