Good company: Warrior Open champion Gorman joins military veteran Pfeifer in ACC field |

Good company: Warrior Open champion Gorman joins military veteran Pfeifer in ACC field

Darrell Moody
Chad Pfeifer hits out of the sand during a practice round Tuesday. After finishing fifth at last year’s American Century Championship, the Army veteran is in the tournament field for the second straight year.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

A year ago, Chad Pfeifer earned an invite to the American Century Championship after winning the 2013 George Bush Presidential Center’s Warrior Open.

He has company this weekend, as Rod Gorman, a retired Army sergeant, was invited to this year’s event after beating Pfeifer by two shots in the most recent edition of the tournament.

Pfeifer, whose left leg was amputated below the knee, had a great debut at the ACC last year, leading after the first round before eventually placing fifth.

Gorman was asked if he had a prediction for this week, and what incentive he had to beat Pfeifer again.

“All I can say is I let my golf clubs do the talking,” Gorman said amid laughter during a press conference Thursday. “I think it’s the competitive nature of the sport. I’m sure, I know for a fact he’s pretty competitive — he doesn’t like to get beat and I don’t like to get beat, so we’ll give it our best out there.”

Gorman, who has little or no use of his right arm because of a war injury, said his experience has been great so far.

“It’s been real surreal for me because like I tell everybody else, I spent 20 years trying to be the gray man, being in the corner, not having attention drawn to me,” Gorman said. “So this is a whole new facet of attention that I’m really not used to.

“The people have been awesome. The weather has been awesome. The golf course is awesome. I’m having the time of my life, and it’s been great to be here. I’ve been blessed with a heck of a privilege.”

Pfeifer said he’s only played one round with Gorman, and that was the final round of the Warrior Open. Gorman won the tournament by two strokes.

“He’ll do well — he has a strong game,” Pfeifer said. “He’ll make some birdies and a lot of pars. We’ve been out practicing together (here).”

The duo should have a big rooting section during the ACC. According to tournament officials, approximately 2,000 military tickets have already been handed out.

“I’ll look forward to it,” Pfeifer said. “Like I said, I’ve had a lot of veterans come up to me, thank me. So to all of them that are out here, thank you for their service and happy to have them come out.”

Pfeifer and Gorman began the tournament Friday paired with Mark Rypien, the defending ACC champion.

Pfeifer enjoys life-changing year since 2014 ACC

A lot of good things have happened to Pfeifer since he made his ACC debut last year.

“I got a lot of exposure last year with how I finished here and just getting my story out there,” Pfeifer said. “I did an audition for the Big Break and got accepted, so I did that. And I ended up getting knocked out of the show in sixth place out of 12. But it was a great experience, a lot of fun.

“But it was a great time there, and the exposure from that and this, again, last year got my story out there and I got a sponsor exemption on the Tour at the Albertson’s Boise Open just last week. So that was a really great experience for me. It gave me a chance to test my game against players. I didn’t play my best, but it was a great experience.”

And, the ACC exposure helped Pfeiffer pick up a sponsor. He is now backed by Diamond Resorts.

“I was paired with Mark Rypien, and he’s one of the ambassadors for Diamond Resorts,” Pfeiffer said. “So I got to talk to Mike Flaskey (from Diamond Resorts) and got to talking to him. They welcomed me to their family and have really been a great support for me and my career. They have helped me out quite a bit along the way.”

After the ACC, Pfeifer plans to sign up for Q-School and hopefully qualify for next year’s Tour. It’s what he sees as the next step in his golf career.

“I’ll get set up with that, try to go through Q-School, work my way through that and hopefully get status on next year,” Pfeifer said. “If not, I’ll just plan to travel more this year and the years following to play more Monday qualifiers and try to earn a spot on to those tournaments.”

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