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Lake Orion

July 11, 2012

U.S. Senior Open shows appreciation to military

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Members of military had front row seats on hole No. 16 during the final practice round of the U.S. Senior Open at Indianwood.Pictured, Sgt. Brent Wirtalla, a Farmington Hills resident,tends the pin while Roger Gunn looks over a put.

LAKE ORION — Army Sgt. Ryan Hedblad was amazed with the approach shots he saw coming into the No. 16 green at the U.S. Senior Open July 11 at Indianwood Golf and Country Club.

Hedblad, a 2002 St. Clair Shores Lake Shore graduate, was part of a select group of servicemen who were given the honor to hold the pin, which was adorned with an American flag, as the pros putted out during the practice round.

“I wish I could hit a shot like that from time to time,” Hedblad said, adding that he shot his career best round last week. “That was the greatest day of my life.”

By all accounts, the day at Indianwood treated him and his fellow soldiers pretty well, too.

“It’s been a pleasure to be out here and meet some of the players. I’m still hoping to meet Fred Couples. Everyone has been really respectful, and it’s just been a great day,” he said. “They actually look you in the eye and tell you that they appreciate everything. We appreciate that too, because we know that not only are we here on Military Day, but they’re out here taking time off to say hello to us during their day of practice.”

Sgt. Brent Wirtalla, a Farmington Hills resident, agreed.

“They’re a whole lot better than I can even imagine. It’s pretty amazing to see them in person and interact with them. They’re good people,” he said. “It’s satisfying, just to know that they’re pros, and they’re thanking us and congratulating us. It makes you feel good.”

Maj. Jeff Ramsey said he enjoyed seeing the good golf.

“It’s pretty neat, because we’re on the green so we get to see the shots coming down,” he said. “Then we walk out and grab the flag and hold it for them. You can’t beat these seats. When you look around, I don’t know if this 16th hole is the highest, but you can pretty much see every hole.”

Tournament play gets under way tomorrow. Tickets can be purchased  at the gate, which is located at Baldwin Road and Clarkston Road.

That also serves as the spectator parking lot.

Tickets are $40 for a day pass or $120 for the entire week.

Some of the premiere groupings for round one include Mark Calcavecchia, Bob Tway and Michael Allen teeing off at 8:20 a.m. on No. 10; Kenny Perry, Steve Jones and Kirk Triplett going off at 8:30 a.m. on No. 1; Peter Jacobson, Scott Simpson and Tom Kite hitting No. 1 at 8:40 a.m.; and Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Doug Snoap teeing off at 8:40 a.m. off of No. 10.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.