Disabled golf trio to represent Arizona at inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The United States Golf Association (USGA), which puts on all of the country’s golf national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Amateur, will introduce a new one next month. The inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open, to be played at Pinehurst No. 6 in North Carolina, showcases 96 of the world’s best golfers with disabilities. Three of those golfers call the Valley home and will represent Arizona in the historic event.
Amy Bockerstette is one of the best-known amateur golfers in the U.S. after her inspirational par on the 16th hole during a Phoenix Open practice round in 2019 went viral. The 23-year-old, who will compete in the Intellectual Impairment category, is busier than ever. Amy helped create the “I Got This” Foundation, which promotes golf for people with intellectual disabilities, and became the first person with Down syndrome to compete in a college national championship in 2021. This year, Amy finished her playing career at Paradise Valley Community College, went to the U.S. Women’s Open, and won a silver medal at the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando.
Larry Celano, aka The Seated Golfer, is on the hunt for his third tournament victory this year. The U.S. Army veteran was accidentally shot three times during the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, resulting in nerve damage to his spine and leaving him paralyzed. Larry, who will compete in the Seated Players category, won at the Conquistador Paragolf Championship in Tucson, shooting an 80 in the final round, then followed that up by traveling to Virginia and winning his flight at the U.S. Disabled Open, after finished 2nd and 3rd in the tournament the two previous years.
Rob Walden is a scratch golfer with a smooth and effortless swing who pipes drives 300+ yards. You would never guess that every time the 50-year-old hits the ball, “it feels like somebody’s taking a hammer and smacking it into my fingertips.” In February of 2016, Rob, who flies big model airplanes, went to launch a brand new one at his house. Instead of starting at idle, the plane malfunctioned and went full throttle. The 32-inch propeller sliced off most of the four fingers on his right hand. Now, the First Tee of Phoenix coach essentially swings one-handed but is better on the course than before the accident. Rob will compete in the Arm Impairment category.
Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.