Several wounded servicemen from Walter Reed Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital attended yesterday's pro-am, sitting in the bleachers near the 18th green.
As they passed by, the PGA Tour players stopped to talk with them and sign autographs. All of the players thanked the soldiers and Marines for their service. Jerry Kelly also handed out PGA commemorative coins.
"Most of them are pretty nice guys," said Todd Herman, a 24-year-old Marine corporal from Coalport, Pa., who is recuperating at Bethesda Naval Hospital from wounds he received in Iraq in September as the result of a roadside bomb.
Phil Mickelson shook Herman's hand and said to the group: "Thanks for all you do for the country. We appreciate it." Mickelson added that his father was in the Navy.
"It's just great seeing how appreciative the golfers are toward the wounded here and the military overall," said gunnery sergeant Martin Word, who is a Marine Corps liaison attached to Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Stewart Cink, Fred Funk, Jerry Kelly and Davis Love III and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem visited Walter Reed Medical Center on Tuesday.
Memories for Mickelson
Mickelson, who played Pinehurst No. 2 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, has mixed emotions about returning to the course next week for the U.S. Open. In 1999, he lost there by one stroke to Payne Stewart -- the first of Mickelson's three second-place finishes in the Open.
But Mickelson's memories are more poignant: It was one of the last places he saw Stewart, who died on Oct. 25 that year when his Lear jet crashed in South Dakota, and his first child, Amanda, was born the day after it ended.
"It's going to be a very emotional week for us as a family," Mickelson said.
Local Pros Set to Go
Three local PGA professionals are playing in the tournament: Wayne DeFrancesco, a professional at Woodholme Country Club, has a 2 p.m. tee time and is paired with Bob Heintz and D.A. Points; Dirk Schultz, a professional at Black Rock Golf Course, has a 1:50 p.m. tee time and is paired with Sean O'Hair and Kevin Stadler; and Rick Schuller, a professional at CC of Petersburg, has a 2 p.m. tee time and is paired with Roland Thatcher and Brenden Pappas, who was one of the four players to get in the field from Monday's qualifier at Little Bennett.