Come to BITBAR for a Tasty Meal and All the Classic Games you Remember Most

My brother Ryan turned 13 this past Thursday and he wanted to get together with a couple friends to celebrate.  After discovering the BITBAR, a restaurant/bar/arcade in Salem that has a large selection of classic games including pinball, he knew he wanted to celebrate there.  It’s a great place to celebrate your birthday.

Until 8PM when Bit Bar becomes an adults-only establishment, it is a great family-friendly classic arcade with nice outdoor seating, delicious food, and all the classic games you could ask for.  BITBAR is dedicated to offering all of the classic games people remember playing and enjoying.  They rotate in games frequently to satisfy all audiences.  Currently, they have 7 pinball games and 28 other video games according to the website.  Anyone can request new games and they will consider it the next time they rotate in games.  In addition, they have a GameCube there with many of its best games, including Mario Kart Double Dash, just one of many Mario Kart favorites.  Most of the games are still just a quarter to play, and the GameCube can be played for free.

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Facing off in Mario Kart Double Dash on BITBAR’s free play Nintendo GameCube with my brother Ryan (far left) and his friends

I really enjoyed the celebration as well, and its not just because of how cool the Salem downtown area is.  The BITBAR had a lot for me to enjoy.  They offer a wide range of food options which is great for a picky eater like me.  I really liked the chicken tenders and fries, which are offered in both kids sizes and adult sizes.  My brother also liked the chicken tenders and his friends ordered the kids cheese pizza.  The kids meals come with free drinks with unlimited refills and also free game tokens so that was an extra bonus for us. 

I chose the kids size chicken so I had room for a couple of their many tasty appetizer choices.  They even sell Tetris shaped tater tots.  We decided to order Bavarian pretzels and nachos, both of which we enjoyed. 

They have a lot of gluten free options as well, which is one reason why my brother who has Celiac disease, likes the BITBAR so much.  Since he got diagnosed, he has not found any places that can give him food he can safely eat and the video games he loves to play.  They also offer a lot of cocktails which my parents had as we ate outside.

After we ate, we had a lot of fun inside as well.  They usually have a sports event on TV at the bar, whether it be soccer, Summer League basketball, or a Patriots game.  They also have a couple of classic sports games.  I battled against my dad in NFL Blitz.  He has been playing longer, so he usually beats me, but at BITBAR, I came closer to victory than ever before.

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Me after taking my dad on in NFL Blitz

Although I did not get the chance to play it, they also had an NBA game.  We were having a lot of fun already between NFL Blitz, Ms. Pac-Man, and Star Trek pinball.

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In front of the NBA Midway game and some Summer League action

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In the meantime, my brother and his friends had such a good time that we ended up staying for nearly five hours, almost all the way up until 8:00 PM.  Ever since my brother discovered the BITBAR for the first time when it had recently opened, I had wanted to check it out.  It exceeded my expectations with delicious food and classic games that even I enjoyed, and I’m not even that big of a gamer.  I would definitely go back as it was worth the long drive from the Metrowest.

 

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Day 5 in Seattle: Final Round/Week Recap for 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Level V Golf Tournament

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Scott Rohrer (right) with the other top 5 golfers: Brock Aoki (far left), Peter Condon (left), Thomas Cleek (middle), and Tyler Lagasse (far right)

For the 3rd and final round on the 4th of July, Scott Rohrer started the day with a solid lead.  His playing partners for the day, Peter Condon of Washington was 7 strokes back and Thomas Cleek of Missouri was 8 strokes back.  Tyler Lagasse was also 8 strokes back and started on hole 2, just 1 hole in front of Scott in the shotgun start.

All the golfers were strong off the tee from the beginning and early on it was Scott’s strength as it had been for most of the 3-day tournament.

The greens seemed to be playing even tougher on this final day as it had been mostly dry and sunny on day 2 and it was a very clear and sunny day right from the start of the day 3.  It showed, as Scott and his partners struggled with putting on the 1st green and it continued for Scott for the first 8 holes.  It showed in his scores as he started double bogey, bogey, bogey on the first 3 holes and was 5 over as he waited to tee off on the Par 3 9th hole with Tyler putting for birdie on the green of the same hole.

Tyler came out on fire, playing aggressive and with confidence and was even par through his first 7 holes with a birdie on 4 to offset his bogey on 2, his first hole of the day.  Since the tee box was moved closer on the 8th hole to make it a par 3 hole for the tournament, holes 7, 8, and 9 were all par 3’s so Scott’s group had caught up to Tyler’s and Scott was waiting for them on the 9th tee box as Tyler sunk his birdie, making him one under.

At this point in the round, Scott knew he was not playing his best and seeing Tyler’s birdie probably got his competitive juices flowing, especially after he had just bogeyed hole 8.

Scott then hit his tee shot on the 9th green landing his ball about 5 feet away from the hole.  Scott let himself know and everybody in the crowd know that he was still fighting for gold as he fist pumped and yelled “boom” as he did on all of his big successful putts in this tournament.

That was the start of a tournament clinching stretch of holes from 9 through 16.  On the 10th hole, Scott pitched in for eagle from deep rough over the high mound of the back of the green.  Scott was so far away from the hole that we could only capture the ball popping up in the air and rolling into the hole as you heard Scott and then the crowd, roar.

At that point it was clear it was going to be Scott’s day to win Gold for the 3rd straight Special Olympics USA Games.  After the very exciting and momentum changing 9th and 10th holes, Scott had only 2 bogeys for the rest of the day.  He finished the last 4 holes with birdies on 15 and 16.  As he approached his putt on 18, he walked with confidence knowing he had the lead on his two playing partners for the day and that his par putt on 18 was likely for the win.

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I watched Scott beam with pride as he spoke to Jen Lada of ESPN first.  He wanted to give me the first interview but I was happy to wait, watch, and learn as Jen with her producer Josh Vorensky and the ESPN camera crew conducted their interview for the station’s Special Olympic coverage.  Jen pointed Scott in my direction after her interview was finished and he was happy to speak to me.

Tyler Lagasse had won silver for the 3rd straight Special Olympic USA games, 6 strokes behind his friend and first round partner Scott Rohrer.  Scott’s finish was too strong for Tyler to catch up.  Tyler was still all smiles because he loves the game and he gave it his best effort to go for Gold.  I met with him after his round was over.

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I had an unbelievable week with Scott and Tyler.  Without them and the Doug Flutie Jr Foundation for Autism who sponsored all 3 of us, none of the experiences I had would have been possible.

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I started my journey in Seattle with a tour of Eagle’s Talon where Tyler and Scott would battle it out with the other Olympians for 3 straight days.  My tour included the Hole 3 green known for its beautiful view of Mount Rainier.  It was too overcast to see the mountain that first day but over the next several days while following the games, the sky cleared up and Mount Rainier slowly came into view.

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Me at Hole 3 of Eagles Talon during my Day 1 tour.  It was overcast, so I could not see Mount Rainier.

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Me at Eagles Talon on my final day in Seattle with Mount Rainier behind to my right

My week kind of went the same way as I came into the week unclear on what I would do and how it would come together.

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But in the end, each day I grew as a reporter and as a person looking up to Tyler and Scott as I learned of their stories and how they have achieved so much by working so hard.  Over the week I had time with Deborah Horne of KIRO 7 news who put my dad and I on the air.  I got to cheer the athletes at Husky Stadium for an unbelievable Opening Ceremony.  That same day, I had the chance to visit the Space Needle in Seattle Center.  On my last day I met and interviewed with Podcaster Colin Weston of ModGolf.  I also even learned a few tips directly from Jen Lada of ESPN.

But this trip was about all the inspirational athletes I saw at the Opening Ceremonies and especially about Tyler and Scott because they were why I was in Seattle.  To me it was fitting that on the last day as Scott and I reached the 3rd hole for the last time that Mount Rainier was visible for the first time all week.  These golfers had reached yet another summit and I got to share the experience with them.  They have inspired me and many others to keep pushing to be the best you can be.

Behind the scenes, this trip was not easy for me and at times I got very frustrated when things did not go as I expected.  However, just like for Tyler and Scott on the golf course, I was able to find focus on camera.  Now I know I have to keep working to improve my skills to be the best me I can be.  With this life changing opportunity to be a Flutie Fellow covering such an exciting national event and travel to Seattle for the first time, I am one step closer to reaching my goal to become a Professional Sports Broadcaster.

Below are the final results of the Special Olympics USA Games Level V Golf Tournament:

Note: Divisions M01-M03 are High Performance (Blue Tees), the rest of the golfers (M04-M07) teed off from the White Tees.

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This post is also available on the Flutie Foundation Blog 

Day 4 in Seattle: Round 2 Recap from the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Level V Golf Tournament

If there was only one thing I could say to describe the current state of the USA Games Level V Golf Tournament, it would be that this is still anybody’s game.  The Flutie Foundation sponsored golfers, Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer, came to Seattle as the heavy favorites to win gold and silver medals, and Scott is currently leading the tournament by seven strokes.  But Peter Condon of Washington, Brock Aoki of Utah, and Thomas Cleek of Missouri among other golfers have challenged Tyler and Scott through 2 days on a course with greens playing very fast causing many 3-putts and few 4-putts.

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Peter Condon is currently in 2nd (+22) after shooting an 82 (+11) in both rounds.  Tyler Lagasse is tied for 3rd with Thomas Cleek, and Brock Aoki is in 5th after starting Round 2 as the leader.  However, Cleek, Lagasse, and Aoki are all within two strokes of 2nd place.

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Scott Rohrer (middle) with his Round 2 tee-off group, including Thomas Cleek (left) and Chris Lussier (right)

Unlike Day 1, Tyler and Scott were not paired up.  Tyler was paired with Tony Marino, and they started on Hole 3.  Scott started on Hole 2 with Chris Lussier and Thomas Cleek.

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Despite facing more putting challenges than yesterday, Tyler Lagasse did well again today, shooting an 86.  “There were some putts that just didn’t break the way I wanted them to and other times it was just a case of the yips” (Tyler Lagasse).  He had some very strong moments, like his birdie on the par 5 hole 11, and an excellent par save on Hole 18, which he said was his best hole.

On hole 18, his drive did not reach the fairway but he made 2 great shots to reach the green in 3 shots despite the long yardage he had to make up on the long and difficult 566 yard par 5 hole.

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Tyler’s 2nd shot on 18 after failing to reach the fairway with his tee shot

Tyler did have some very nice drives and had little difficulty sticking the green when he needed to.  He pulled out the driver more often, trying to play more aggressively than yesterday.   I asked him why he used his driver more and he said, “I just had to be aggressive, I was getting a little bit emotional, I just wanted to push myself to be the best I can possibly be.”

Scott Rohrer played even better than he did in round 1, shooting a 76 (+5) to take the tournament lead.  In response to my question about how he thinks he did today vs. yesterday, he said, “I played a lot better than yesterday, I’ve improved somehow over the past day.”  He was very consistent, making par on each of the first three holes.  Like Tyler, he birdied the 11th.  However, he has no doubt in his mind that his best hole was hole 1, which due to the shotgun start on hole 2, he actually ended his round on hole 1.  He had a huge drive on the 386 yard par 4 that nearly landed the green in one.  He says it was his longest drive in the two tournaments he has played at Willows Run.

For some video footage from the day, including my stand-up live from Willows Run and my interviews with Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer, see below:

Although Scott Rohrer has a 7-stroke lead, we have learned from this week to expect the unexpected and that the leaderboard can shuffle around very quickly.  Someone who is in 4th or 5th right now could be the leader in their division by the end of the final round on the 4th of July.  Who will take home the gold?  Will Scott hold on to the lead for his third straight gold medal at the USA Games, or will Tyler or someone else catch him?

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This post is also available on the Flutie Foundation blog.

 

 

 

Day 3 in Seattle: Round 1 Recap from 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Level V Golf Tournament

Immediately following round 1, I reported via Facebook Live.  See video below.

Also, after the round, Flutie sponsored golfer and 2nd after round 1 golfer, Tyler Lagasse, had his article featured on ESPN.

Late last night (July 2nd) I created a more detailed round 1 recap as a video report that focuses on Flutie Foundation-supported Tyler Lagasse of Special Olympics Massachusetts and Scott Rohrer of Special Olympics South Carolina.

The voiceover text and video are below.

It was cold and damp as the golfers waited in their carts to begin.  The carts were used to speed up pace of play.  Tyler won the toss to tee off first.

Both Tyler and Scott bogied on the first hole as their nerves seemed still high for the start of the tournament.  They both bounced back in Hole 2, with Tyler just missing a birdie and Scott making one from a couple feet away.

One of Scott’s most challenging holes was the Par 4 3rd hole.  He took a penalty stroke for hitting out of bounds but recovered with a solid 2-putt to finish the hole.

Both parred the 4th hole with each of them coming within a foot of a birdie on 10 foot or more putts.

On hole 5, Tyler just missed par but still gained a stroke on Scott, who just missed his bogey putt.

On the 7th hole par 3, Scott came within inches of a birdie off a putt of over 20 feet and then Tyler’s par putt almost rimmed out but went in.

Hole 8 was shortened to Par 3 and they both parred, but it was their partner, Travis Curtis from Maine that dazzled on the Par 3 9th with a near hole in one.

On hole 11, both Tyler and Scott had chances for eagles with very long drives and solid shots with Scott landing on the green in 2 and Tyler on the back fringe.  Tyler’s eagle shot got him within 10 feet but on his birdie attempt he rolled past the hole by a few inches.  Scott’s birdie attempt reached the lip of the hole.  A good hole for both golfers and the start of a strong back 9 stretch for Scott as he played 1 over for the final 8 holes.

Hole 12 was a very strange hole as Travis Curtis called for a rules official as his ball appeared to land in a divot-like hole on the green.  Then there was a loud plane soaring over us as well.  Tyler 4 putted the hole for a double bogey but then picked up his play and went 2 over on the last 6 holes.

On 13, all three golfers hit strong off the tee and landed within feet of each other.  On Tyler’s second shot he landed at the very back of the green.  Tyler’s putting came back strong when he hit a 50 foot putt within inches of the hole almost making a birdie and tapped in for par as did Scott.

On 14, Scott made a very exciting 20 foot putt for birdie, pumping his fist as the ball dropped in the hole.  Tyler had a 3 foot birdie putt lip out of the hole after a tremendous tee shot but had to settle for a par tap in.

On 15 and 16, the tee shots of Tyler and Scott landed really close like they had on 13.  Their scores were close too, as Scott had par and a bogey and Tyler was close to matching it, just missing a par putt on 16 to go bogey and par.

Hole 17 is Eagle’s Talon signature hole.  It’s a par 3 over a lot of water and the tee was moved up.  The green has 3 levels making putting difficult.  Travis Curtis had his birdie putt just missed from 10 feet go in and out of the hole.  Scott and Tyler each had very long putts for birdie and left themselves about 3 feet on either side of the hole.  All 3 golfers got par.

The long par 5 18th hole was an adventure for all 3 golfers starting with Tyler’s tee shot got a lucky bounce off the cart path to avoid landing in a hazard area.  Travis Curtis ended up with a 9 after getting in trouble with the water.  In the end, both Tyler and Scott had 1 foot putts to end the round with a par but Scott’s putt just lipped out.  Still, both golfers finished strong and within 2 strokes of each other.  They hope to carry their momentum into tomorrow.

After the first round, Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer are 2nd and 3rd on the Special Olympics USA Level V Golfer leaderboard.  I had the chance to talk to both Tyler and Scott moments after they signed their scorecard.  Even though my cameraman (my dad Ken) had his first technical difficulty with one of my interviews, the audio came through for you to enjoy.  I also had the chance to quickly speak to the Round 1 Leader, Brock Aoki.

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This post can also be seen on the Flutie Foundation blog.

 

Day 2 in Seattle: Opening Ceremonies and Exploring the City

I truly enjoyed my first full day here in Seattle.  After a nice complementary breakfast from our hotel, we left for Opening Ceremonies.  We stopped by the IMA building to grab our press passes and video bib, and my dad and I met some of the other press members at the Special Olympics.  After we had our passes, we found a place to park our car, and we arrived at Husky Stadium just in time for the Parade of State Delegations.

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Me posing with the husky in front of Husky Stadium at University of Washington.

I watched with excitement and pride as all the athletes marched into the stadium with their home state teams.  I was even able to spot Tyler Lagasse in the group of Massachusetts Olympians.  Tyler was also able to take a picture with Scott Rohrer, who despite being Tyler’s biggest rival, is also a good friend of Tyler’s.

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Elite Level V golfers Scott Rohrer (left) and Tyler Lagasse (right) take an Opening Ceremony selfie together

After the ceremonies were over, I met briefly with with Tyler and his coach George and confirmed the three-some including Tyler, Scott, and Travis Curtis of Maine will all tee off on Hole 1 at Eagle’s Talon at 8:30 as part of a shotgun start for Level V golfers.

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After the parade, we decided to go inside for food and shade, as it was getting warmer as the sun had come out.  We couldn’t find food right away, and we wanted to find some USA Games merchandise, so we stepped outside the stadium for a minute.  We filmed the 1st part of our Facebook Live video.  If we had left even a few minutes later, we wouldn’t have been seen by the local CBS station, KIRO-TV (Channel 7 on most Seattle TVs).  After seeing us film our live video, they decided to interview us about my coverage of the games and my Flutie Fellowship.  They wanted to know my story and decided broadcast part of our interview with the news station and it aired on both the 5PM and 11PM news on July 1st.  I was very excited to learn that they found my story interesting enough even with so many talented athletes to cover.  We watched the report from our hotel room at 11:15 (see below) and we were told that the news story will also be posted on the station’s website

Just when we were about to leave to go find food in the city, we saw a room full of people who had pizza!  It was perfect timing as we had searched at least half the stadium looking for pizza stands that were open.  Although the pizza was technically for volunteers only, they let me have two free slices, and I gave out my business cards to all of them.  They even let us stay to film the 2nd part of our live video.

After that, we headed back to the IMA to stop by the media room one more time.

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We decided to stick around, as George, Tyler’s coach, wanted us to meet Tyler and Scott.  George said they could meet at the media room after Opening Ceremonies ended.  Scott had other plans he could not change, but we met with George and Tyler to discuss what kind of coverage we were going to do during the tournament.  We wanted to make sure that our plans would not have a negative impact on Tyler or any of the other golfers.

After Opening Ceremonies, we went into the city to explore.  We started our journey in Seattle at the iconic Space Needle, which was open despite construction that had the restaurant closed and parts of the observation deck blocked off.

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We still got an amazing view and some nice pictures at the top of the needle.

After seeing the Space Needle, we were still hungry.  We decided to get pizza again but this from Mod Pizza at Seattle Center, an indoor food court/plaza that also included a monorail station.  They made our pizzas very quickly, and they came out great.  I really enjoyed my time in the city.  But now, it’s all about the athletes.  We will be live from Redmond at Willows Run tomorrow.  We can now officially say, “Let the games begin!”

This article is also available on the Flutie Foundation Blog.

 

 

Day 1 in Seattle: Touring Willows Run Golf Course

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I landed this afternoon in Seattle and after settling into the hotel, I decided to check out the Willows Run Eagles Talon golf course ahead of the level 5 Special Olympics USA golf tournament.  When I arrived, I received a warm welcome from the staff.  They gave my father the keys to a golf cart so we could tour the 6,800 yard 18-hole golf course that the Level 5 golfers will be competing on from July 2nd through July 4th.  We made several stops along the course to take pictures and make a video (see below):

This post is also featured on the Flutie Foundation blog

 

Special Olympics 2018 USA Games Golf Preview: Lagasse, Rohrer Battle For Gold Once Again

Special Olympics USA Games

Starting with the Opening Ceremony this Sunday, July 1st, I will be in Seattle to cover the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games on behalf of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism.  As a member of the press, I will follow golfers Tyler Lagasse of Massachusetts and Scott Rohrer of South Carolina.  Both golfers are sponsored by the Flutie Foundation this year and as a member of the autism community, I am honored to report on these two amazing golfers and inspiring individuals.

Tyler and Scott have finished 1st and 2nd in each of the last two Special Olympics USA Summer Games (New Jersey 2014 and Nebraska 2010).  Look for daily updates on Boston Sports Mania and on Flutie Foundation social media including their blog.

Read below to learn more about Special Olympians Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer.

A Brief Golf History: Tyler Lagasse

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Tyler is a 31-year old autistic adult from Tyngsborough, Massachusetts.  He began golfing in 2003 and has traveled to Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, Nebraska, and several other places for Special Olympics tournaments.  He is a member of the Special Olympics hall of fame, won an honorary ESPY in 2017, and was even featured on a Golf Channel program in 2010.  He co-authored a book about autism with his mom, published in 2015 called What Do You Say?: Autism with Character.  Several times including 2014, along with a few other Special Olympics golfers, Tyler has been invited to the Pro-Am, a PGA event.

Tyler has never competed before on the 2018 Special Olympics course, Willows Run, but he has plenty of experience on 18-hole courses.  At the 2017 Pro-Am tournament, he played a round with a personal best score of 70, par for the 18 hole course.  He won silver at the 2008 Special Olympics National Golf Invitational in Florida as well as each of the last two USA Summer Games.  While Tyler has never won gold on the national stage, he is hungry for his first gold medal.  This past week, Tyler noted, “I want that gold medal so badly, I want to do whatever it takes to get it, because I may never have this opportunity again. To me as well as many others coming to Seattle, this is MY Olympics”.  Tyler is clear very competitive but in the book he co-authored with his mother Deborah Lagasse, golf is also therapeutic for Tyler.

“Golf sometimes makes me come face to face with my demons inside. I consider golf a tool for dealing with adversity because I have faced endless adversity all my life; most of us do sometimes. Golf also helps me feel good about myself, tests my resilience and mental toughness. I learned so much about myself through golf and it’s given me an identity, something that fits my personality and golf has allowed me to put my personality on display” (Tyler Lagasse).  Tyler also writes about every golf tournament in great detail so he was even able to provide me with some of his previous USA Games and Pro-Am stats.  He is proud to be sponsored by the Flutie Foundation.  “They’ve come out of their way in helping me surpass my fundraising goal for this year’s USA Games. I thank them for their support because they see me as a talented individual rather than one living with autism. And they see the gift that autism has, and that gift is hope” (Tyler Lagasse).

Tyler will be competing starting Monday July 2nd in the Level V Golf Tournament and his biggest competitor in this tournament will likely be Scott Rohrer, who is also being sponsored by the Flutie Foundation.

A Brief Golf History: Scott Rohrer

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Scott Rohrer is an autistic adult from York, South Carolina.  He has golfed for 20 years and he was 7 when he started.  Scott had a personal and Special Olympics best of 71 (-1) in the opening round of the 2010 USA Games.  He topped that score at the 2015 Los Angeles World Games.  When another golfer beat that record, he only did better the next day.  He scored a 60 on a par-66 course to break the Special Olympics World Record.  He finished the tournament at a Special Olympics best -12.  He has won 7 gold medals on the national stage, including a gold medal in each of the last two USA Games tournaments.  Tyler Lagasse earned the silver medal in both of those tournaments.  Scott has won medals at other tournaments as well including a bronze medal at the 2014 World Golf Cup.

Scott works on a tree farm with his dad, Jeff in York from Monday to Thursday each week but spends the weekend on the golf course.  His golf games against his dad are pretty close but he usually out-drives his dad.  His mom Elizabeth is his caddy.  Scott can be very streaky.  He came back from a triple bogey and bogey to start the day to score a second straight 75 on Day 3 of the 2010 USA Games.  Golf brings Scott out of his shell, and people who play with him see him as a competitive golfer not as someone with autism who plays golf.

The big stage as Willows Run is set and now the question is will Scott Rohrer win another gold medal or will Tyler’s hunger and competitive spirit help lead him to victory and his first gold?

Previous Competitions Between Tyler and Scott

2010 USA Games

Scott won gold in this tournament, shooting 71-75-75, while Tyler won silver, shooting 79-78-75.

2012 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)

Tyler came in 3rd overall playing with Gary Woodland, shooting a 58 (-13).  Scott shot a 64 (-7) playing with Brendan Steele.

2014 USA Games

Scott won gold for the 2nd consecutive USA Games tournament, shooting 76-78-78.  Tyler won silver again, shooting 84-81-88.

2014 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)

Tyler came in 4th overall playing with Tommy Gainey, shooting a 55 (-16).  Scott was not far behind, shooting a 59 (-12) with I.K. Kim.

2016 Pro-Am (Stats courtesy of Tyler Lagasse)

Tyler (with Rod Pampling) and Scott (with Scott Langley) tied for 4th with a 52 (-19).

The Tournament Venue: Willows Run Golf Complex

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Willows Run is located in Redmond, Washington, about 20 minutes from downtown Seattle.  It includes two 18-hole courses, Eagles Talon and Coyote Creek, both of which are par-72 courses, just like the course that the 2010 USA Games golf tournament was held on.  Special Olympics Level V golfers will be competing on Eagles Talon from 8:30 AM-3:30 PM every day from July 2-July 4.  The course is over 6,800 yards in total and has a lot of long and narrow tree lined holes so hooking or slicing off the tee could definitely be dangerous.  The greens are playing fast, even though it’s been wet the last few days.

For more information on Willows Run, see my article from the day I arrived when I toured the course. (video below)

Other Level V Golfers To Watch For

There are 12 golfers participating in the high performance stroke play Level V competition, including Tyler and Scott.  I have provided a little information on the other golfers in their competition below.

There are two divisions within the Level V high performance competition.  Both divisions compete in the same pool, but Division 2 golfers are ranked separately for medals.  Tyler and Scott are Division 1, while some of these other golfers are Division 2.  Also, the expectation is the each day will  begin with a shotgun start so that more golf is ongoing at once, starting at 8:30 AM.

Garrett Stortz, Alaska

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Stortz joined Special Olympics in 2007, participating in field hockey.  He eventually switched to his favorite sport, golf.  He is a member of Division 2 in the high performance stroke play competition.  He is eager to represent Alaska in the USA Games.  Special Olympics has changed his life as he has met many new people who share his passion for golf.  Stortz also participated in Level V Golf at the 2015 World Games in LA and the 2014 USA Games.  He won the Division 2 gold in 2014 and Division 2 bronze in 2015.

Joel Murray, Louisiana

Murray is a longtime Special Olympics golfer who will be part of Division 2 in the Level V high performance competition.  He has been invited to the Pro-Am before and was not far behind Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer the last time he competed in a Special Olympics national tournament (Nebraska 2010). He had a personal best 18-hole score of 73 in Nebraska and won gold in a lower division. He will also be competing in the Level V tourney in Seattle.  Murray is a longtime Special Olympics golfer.  Murray won the 2009 National Golf Invitational Level V Play and had the lowest score in Pro-Am history in 2013.

Travis Curtis, Maine

Curtis joined Special Olympics Maine in 2007.  He will be participating in Division 1 of the Level V High Performance competition, but he has also played Unified golf in the past.  He came close to a medal at each of the last two USA Games and is hopeful that he can bring a medal home from Seattle.  He has won gold in the state competition each year since he started in 2007.

Thomas Cleek, Missouri

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Cleek has been a multi-sport Special Olympian for over 10 years.  He won gold in a lower division in the 2014 USA Games, where he last played on the national stage, but this year Cleek will be part of Division 1, where he will have tougher medal competition like golfers Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer.  Can he take home a medal as he moves up into the highest division?

Chris Lussier, Rhode Island

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Nicknamed the Mayor, Lussier has been competing in many sports for team Rhode Island over the last 10 years.  He has also competed in unified competitions with his dad as his partner.  They have developed a closer bond by competing together.  Chris also met his girlfriend, Amy, and many other friends from Special Olympics.  He won gold in the Level III Unified golf competition back in 2014.  He also won a medal in golf at the 2010 USA Games, and he even won gold in the unified golf competition at the 2011 World Summer Games.  This year, he will compete in the 2nd division of the Level V high performance individual stroke play competition.

Miles Stroud, Texas

Stroud has participated in multiple sports at Special Olympics for ten years.  He says his favorite sport is definitely golf though.  Miles has a handicap of 9.2 as he enters the 2nd division of the Level V high performance individual stroke play competition.  He is a huge fan of all Texas A&M sports, and he cheers for the Aggies in his down time.  He won gold as a part of Division 4 of the Level V competition at the 2012 Special Olympics National Golf Invitational with a 72-hole score of 301.  Will Stroud take home a medal in Seattle as part of Division 2?

Brock Aoki, Utah

Aoki has been golfing since age 6 or 7, and will compete in Division 1 of the Level V High Performance competition.  He plays golf in nearly all his free time, though he has just started a full time job as a chef.  He may be dedicated to golf, but can he keep up with the scratch golfers in his division such as Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer?

Tony Marino, Utah

Marino started competing in Special Olympics at age 13.  He will compete in Division 2 of the Level V High Performance competition.  Marino has played as far away as China in Special Olympics golf.  Marino was paired up with Tyler Lagasse in the Opening Round of the 2008 National Golf Invitational, and they got along well.  Tony has also been a coach for Special Olympics.  Marino is happy to travel around the world and participate in multiple sports thanks to Special Olympics.

Grace Anne Braxton, Virginia

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Braxton is a long time Special Olympics golfer and swimmer.  She has participated since 1981, and that was before Tyler Lagasse or Scott Rohrer was born.  She was ranked #1 among female Special Olympic golfers in the world in both 2007 and 2011.  She won the Division 2 gold at the 2010 USA Games and has participated in the World Games in 1991, 2007, and 2011, and won gold in both 2007 and 2011 when she was ranked #1 among females.  She also participated in golf at the 2014 USA Games.  Braxton will participate in the Division 2 High Performance Individual Stroke Tournament again this year in Seattle.  Will she take home another medal?

Peter Condon, Washington

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Condon has been playing golf since 2006.  He will be part of Division 1, Tyler Lagasse and Scott Rohrer’s division, in the Level V High Performance Individual Stroke Tournament.  Condon has loved golf ever since he started and is eager to participate in his home state in this year’s USA Games.  The question is, has he played on Willows Run before, and will home state advantage help him win a medal in a division that includes some of the country’s best?

Stay tuned for updates live from Seattle as the story unfolds.