OWASSO — Six years ago, Major Dan Rooney, a PGA professional, founded the Folds of Honor Foundation to raise college scholarship money for families of military men and women killed or injured in service to the United States.
The fourth annual Patriot Golf Day, the foundation's flagship fundraiser held every year on Memorial Day, raised a record $4.3 million last year, bringing a six-year total to more than $17 million.
The annual event, held at Patriot Golf Club, adjacent to the Fold of Honors headquarters, will feature 10 PGA Tour members, 15 Champions Tour players and celebrities like Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops, former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and actor Craig T. Nelson, who played “Coach.”
The player who's guaranteed to draw the largest gallery is former OSU golfer Rickie Fowler, one of the PGA Tour's top golfers. Fowler has made an impact on the younger generation and modern day golf apparel with his flashy clothes.
Rooney, who served three combat tours in Iraq as an F-16 fighter pilot, witnessed a profound situation following his second tour when a soldier lost his life and his four-year-old son faced an uncertain future.
“I had to help this family and the thousands just like them,” Rooney said, referring to his original inspiration. “From that moment I vowed to do whatever I could to insure no family would be left behind on the field of battle.
“It is our duty to honor their sacrifice and educate their legacy. Ninety-nine percent are free courtesy of the one percent that serve. Freedom isn't free.”
Three-person teams will consist of one tour player and/or celebrity, one military golfer and one Folds of Honor guest.
The Golf Channel again this year will tape action and run a special telecast that airs the week of Veteran's Day. Color commentary will be done by David Feherty, who has been actively involved with Folds of Honor.
“There are more than a million dependents of those that have fallen or combat wounded,” Feherty said. “We're going to try and make sure all of these children get a chance to get an education, go to college. It's so important. There are so many things to take care of. This is one of the most important.”
The Folds of Honor foundation has awarded more than 3,8000 educational scholarships since its inception. Scholarships can be used immediately or can be held with the foundation on the behalf of a young child until the time of their enrollment.
What: Pro-am featuring pro golfers, celebrities and military members
When: Monday. Opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. at the driving range. Competition begins at 9:45 a.m.
Where: Patriot Golf Club, Owasso
Who: Ten PGA Tour golfers and 15 Champions Tour players; celebrities; military members.
Competition: Three-person teams consist of one tour player and/or celebrity, one military golfer and one Folds of Honor guest.
Tickets: $35. Can be purchased at the Patriot Golf Club on Monday. Fans can ride shuttles from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino or Stone Canyon Elementary School near the golf course. Admission is free to children 16 and under and active and nonactive military personnel with military ID.
TV: The Golf Channel films a special telecast that airs the week of Veteran's Day. Color commentary this year will be done by David Feherty.
Patriot Cup Field
Ken Duke, Rickie Fowler, Todd Hamilton, Zach Johnson, Scott McCarron, Scott Piercy, Robert Streb, Bo Van Pelt, Scott Verplank, Gary Woodland.
Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Bob Tway, David Edwards, Brad Faxon, Fred Funk, Bill Glasson, Michael Goodes, Jim Kane, Gary McCord, Larry Mize, Tom Pernice, Jr., Scott Simpson, Craig Stadler, Willie Wood.
Dierks Bentley and band, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Craig T. Nelson, Bob Stoops, Mickey Tettleton, Brandon Weeden, Gary Williams.