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Charlotte to host Medal of Honor Cup

Ron Green Jr.
Ron Green Jr., a former Observer staff writer, will write golf columns occasionally for the newspaper.

Forget celebrity golf tournaments.

What the USO of North Carolina, the Military Family Lifestyle Charitable Foundation and Purple Heart Homes are doing next week at Trump National Golf Club has some genuinely important people gathering for golf.

The inaugural Medal of Honor Cup will be played May 20 and will host seven recipients of the United States’ highest military honor. In addition, several four-star Commanding Generals will attend the two-day event that will begin with the first Selfless Service Award dinner May 19.

“We wanted a top-notch event in Charlotte to honor the military,” said Garrett Garland, a former Green Beret and now vice chairman of Purple Heart Homes.

Proceeds from the event will aid the three charities in providing for veterans. With seven major military installations, North Carolina is home to 11 percent of the active military force. The USO-N.C. served more than 600,000 servicemen and their families last year.

Purple Heart Homes provides remodeled or new homes to deserving veterans while the MFLCF helps reconnect military personnel with their families.

The goal, Garrett said, is to grow the Medal of Honor Cup into an annual event with national television coverage. For more information on the dinner and tournament, visit www.tributetoselflessservice.org.

A NEW LOOK: Since becoming Trump National Golf Club last year, the Greg Norman-designed course on Lake Norman has undergone a significant transition that will continue this summer.

Fourteen new tees have been added, stretching the course formerly known as The Point to 7,480 yards from the back tees.

“It’s a bear,” director of golf Jay Mull said.

Trump’s influence has led to new cart paths, newly redone bunkers and extensive tree removal.

On May 28, the course will close so that its putting surfaces can be converted to TifEagle bermuda, following the trend of many area courses that are getting away from bent grass greens. The Peninsula, River Run, Verdict Ridge, Quail Hollow and the Golf Club at Ballantyne are among the courses that have or are converting to the more heat-tolerant bermuda.

Trump National is expected to reopen for play in 10 weeks.

FIVE SWING THOUGHTS

• Sergio Garcia’s collapse at The Players Championship on Sunday afternoon was both sudden and shocking.

Forget the water ball at No. 18, Garcia was numb by then. But to toss away the tournament at the 17th hole, firing at the flag when a par might well have gotten him into a playoff was a critical mistake.

Asked afterward how long he’ll be bothered by his quadruple bogey at the 17th, Garcia shrugged and said, “It doesn’t bug me now.”

Sorry, Sergio, not buying it.

Long term, Garcia will likely be unaffected, but he needs to shake the martyr complex.

• The Tiger-Sergio dust-up at The Players was petty but it brought their long-simmering animosity to the surface.

The incident at the par-5 second hole was overblown. I was standing approximately 100 yards from Woods when he pulled the club for his second shot, and I didn’t hear any applause. Garcia, replays showed, hadn’t begun his swing when the noise happened and it looked like a convenient excuse for a poor shot.

Woods said a marshal told him Garcia had already played. The marshal on the scene was later quoted as saying he never spoke to Woods.

Garcia was right about one thing – there was too much noise in this whole thing.

• Woods’ victory Sunday made him the heavy favorite to win the U.S. Open at Merion next month. It’s a course that won’t require many drivers off the tee, which should help Woods if he can avoid the pop-up, pull-hook 3-wood he hit at No. 14 where he made a double bogey on Sunday.

The way he’s putting now, it’s similar to the way he putted in his best years. That’s the most impressive thing about Tiger this year.

• When Martin Laird has been good this year, he’s been very good, winning the Valero Open in San Antonio and finishing tied for fifth at The Players. Laird, who lives half the year on Lake Norman, has been fighting his driver at times this season but feels his game is going in the right direction.

“Once I get it all sorted out, I feel I can go on a nice little run,” Laird said.

• Who says experience is critical?

Derek Ernst won the Wells Fargo Championship in his ninth career PGA Tour start, and David Lingmerth tied for second at The Players in his 13th career start.

Ron Green Jr. is senior writer for Global Golf Post (www.globalgolfpost.com) and a contributor to the Charlotte Observer. He can be reached at rongreenjr@gmail.com.
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