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Tiger Woods Honors U.S. Troops at Golf Tournament

By Air Force Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo
Special to American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., July 2, 2009 – Golfing great Tiger Woods spent the week leading up to the nation’s birthday honoring those men and women serving in the military during the Earl Woods Memorial Pro-Am golf tournament at the Congressional Country Club here.

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U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ramon Padilla, left, Tiger Woods, center, and U.S. Army Maj. Ken Dwyer hit the ceremonial first shot at the opening ceremony of the Earl Woods Pro-am golf tournament at the Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Md., July 1, 2009. Dwyer is wounded warrior assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group. Padilla, also a wounded warrior, is assigned to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo
  

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The tournament was named after Woods’ father, a former Army officer who served during the Vietnam era. During the tournament, 26 active-duty servicemembers, representing each service, were given the opportunity to caddie for professional golfers.

“It felt great! I should buy a lottery ticket because the way my luck is going, I might just hit the jackpot,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Michael Barrett, who caddied for Woods and last year’s tournament winner, Anthony Kim.

At the end of the 174-yard, par 3 hole, Woods passed the putter to Barrett for the final putt. Although he missed that putt, along with a second putt to end the hole for Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo, Barrett said it was still a memorable moment.

“I know I’m gonna get it from my boys back home because I missed both putts, but it was still a great experience.” Barrett is a 16-year Marine Corps veteran, with two tours in Iraq, who was injured by a roadside bomb.

Two Army wounded warriors, Staff Sgt. Ramon Padilla and Maj. Ken Dwyer, were a part of the ceremonial first shot with Woods to begin the tournament.

“The fact that Tiger wanted to include … servicemembers in something he feels very emotional about means a lot to me,” said Dwyer, who is assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group based on Fort Bragg, N.C.

In addition to tournament ticket discounts and complimentary tickets for military members, the USO set up a care package tent for deployed troops.

During the opening ceremony, the Navy’s Ceremonial Guard Drill Team and singer Jessica Simpson performed the national anthem. A precision parachute demonstration team from the 101st Airborne Division based on Fort Campbell, Ky., descended over the first hole in a four-man formation to present the golf balls used during the ceremonial “tee off” that would begin the competition.

Woods summed up the military’s special role during a press conference: “To see what they deal with on a daily basis and what they have to go through by putting their lives on the line for us … Everyone in this room should thank these servicemembers … for what they do.”

(Air Force Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo serves with the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service.)

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Photo Essay: Tiger Woods Honors Military at Golf Tournament

Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Michael Barrett putts for Tiger Woods during the Earl Woods Pro-am golf tournament at the Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Md., July 1, 2009. Barrett was one of 26 servicemembers who served as caddies for golfers at the Pro-am tournament. Barrett, wounded in Iraq, is a drill instructor assigned to the Pentagon. Barrett spent 553 days in rehab and recovery after being wounded by an improvised exposive device. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageTony Romo, left, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, and Tiger Woods put together a care package during the Earl Woods Pro-am golf tournament at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., that will be sent to troops in Iraq, July 1, 2009. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo   
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