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Among the many good things that come out of the Patriot All-America are the young fans who turned out for a clinic with the players (far left) and the ceremonial bags (left) that participants carry in honor of a fallen or wounded soldier.


and it makes it pretty rewarding that we are able to give something back to them rather than just playing golf for ourselves. Maybe not at first, but by the end of the week, everyone understands that.” Among those who have played in the


event are Daniel Berger, who was the 2015 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and Brooks Koepka, who won the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Braden Thornberry of the University


of Mississippi won the most recent title, shooting 2-under 211, including a final- round 71.


“It was awesome,” Thornberry said.


“Staying on property like this and watching over the course, on top of representing military and fallen soldiers, it’s just such a great tournament.” As for his golf bag, Thornberry said,


“It was growing on me. It will be tough giving it back, but it’s going for such a great cause.” New elements added to the 2015


event included a PING “champions” bag bearing the names of the Patriot winners, which will be kept on display at Luke. A series of vignettes air each day of the tournament on ESPN and talks are


in the works for a 30-minute special on Fox Sports in March. “It’s all about introducing players to


another world,” AGA assistant executive director Lorraine Thies said. “In many cases, they are representing fallen soldiers their own age. When something happens that really grabs an individual, that’s when it becomes very special for us because they get the significance. “We are at the point where players


really want to come to this event and want to return each year and be part of something exceptional.” n


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obsports.com/aga PREVIEW 2016 | AZ GOLF Insider | 27


ARIZONA GOLF ASSOCIATION


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