Beth Ann Nichols, May 18, 2022
The field is set for the inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open and Amy Bockerstette is among the 96 players in the field. Bockerstette, 23, went viral in 2019 when she famously said, “I got this!” when getting up-and-down for par from a greenside bunker during the Waste Management Phoenix Open alongside playing partner Gary Woodland, who is now a good friend.
Bockerstette will compete in the intellectual impairment category. The disabilities advocate founded the I Got This Foundation to provide golf instruction, playing opportunities, and organized events for people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.
The USGA received 299 entries for the inaugural event, held July 18-20 on Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No.6 Individual handicaps were the primary factor in determining the field, with five male player spots and two female player spots designated per impairment category. The eight impairment categories include arm impairment, leg impairment, multiple limb amputee, neurological impairment, seated players, short stature, vision impairment, and intellectual impairment.
The field’s youngest competitor is 15-year-old Sophia Howard from Hudsonville, Michigan, and Judith Brush, 80, of Alexandria, Virginia, is the championship’s oldest player. Players will represent 12 countries and 29 states.
Dennis Walters, 72, of Jupiter, Florida, who received the 2018 Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest honor, will join six other golfers who qualified in the seated player impairment category. Walters has turned the tragedy of being paralyzed from the waist down at age 24 from a golf cart accident into a personal mission to teach golf and life lessons to a worldwide audience.
PGA teaching pro Alex Fourie, who spent the first seven years of his life in Ukrainian orphanages, is among the best one-armed players in the world. Fourie, who now lives with his family in Tennessee, sells T-shirts through his charity, Single Hand Golf, to help orphans in war-torn Ukraine.
There will be one overall men’s champion and one overall women’s champion.
“We are thrilled by the level of interest and support that we’ve received from the adaptive community for the inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open,” said John Bodenhamer, chief championships officer for the USGA. “To receive nearly 300 entries from around the world underscores the passion of these athletes who are seeking the opportunity to compete for a national championship.”
Chris Biggins, director of player development at the Country Club of Birmingham, who was born with cerebral palsy, will compete in the neurological impairment category. The 2022 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball is being contested this week at the Alabama club.
“Competing in an official USGA championship has been a dream of mine for years and now that dream will be coming to fruition,” said Biggins. “This event will attract the best golfers from around the world to compete on an incredible course, Pinehurst No. 6. It is an honor to compete in this historic event and help pave the way for the growth of disabled golf.”
The championship will be contested over 54 holes of stroke play. Multiple sets of tees will be utilized. Carts will be permitted for all players and caddies.