The American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe will add a bona fide hero to its array of celebrity golfers July 15-20 as part of the tournament’s 25th anniversary.
Retired United States Army Corporal Chad Pfeifer, an Iraqi War Veteran and amputee whose golf-centered rehabilitation has turned him into a top-tier tournament player, will join the field of competition for $600,000 in prize money this July.
On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, the American Century Championship will honor America’s Armed Forces and recognize the service of Pfeifer at the tournament and on its live NBC Sports broadcasts.
The American Century Championship is offering complimentary tickets to military for the celebrity golf tournament in appreciation of their service to the country. All active duty, reservists, National Guard and veterans receive one complimentary ticket and one complimentary guest ticket for each day of the tournament week beginning July 15. All service men and women who would like to attend the tournament must secure their tickets ahead of time online. At the events, participants must show photo ID along with the ticket voucher at tournament gates to receive the complimentary ticket(s).
Three-time winner of the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Warrior Open and the 2011 National Amputee Tournament champion, Pfeifer is a working PGA Club Professional at the Golf Club of Estrella in Goodyear, AZ.
While serving in Iraq in 2007, Pfeifer’s life changed when a bomb exploded under the patrol vehicle he was driving and he lost his left leg above the knee.
He began hitting golf balls while doing rehab at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio at the urging of a fellow staff sergeant.
“Once I picked up golf it gave me an escape from depression, got me out of my hospital room, and let me take out some aggression on the golf ball rather than people close to me,” Pfiefer told the Golf Channel.
Now 32, he used golf to help overcome the adversity and found a talent that had roots in his three-sport high school athlete days.
He attended the Golf Academy of America to learn the business end of the sport and now brings his competitive skills to the 80-player field at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, where John Elway, Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Jerry Rice, Ray Romano and Andy Pettitte hold forth each year.
“The American Century Championship invitation was a stunner,” offered Pfeifer, whose hole-in-one during the 2012 Warrior Open was witnessed by former President George W. Bush. “Golf has taken me to great places and I’ve met President Bush and many others, but Lake Tahoe in July is a special one. I’m looking forward to competing with some athletes who know the meaning of the word at its highest level.”
The American Century Championship has a history of promoting and fundraising for military and first responder causes. In 2002, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, three New York City firemen who had worked tirelessly at Ground Zero were added to the celebrity field and the tournament raised over $150,000 for the Uniformed Firefighters Scholarship Fund to aid the children of those lost in the tragedy.
In 2003-2004 Mark Cuban’s Fallen Patriot Fund was the tournament’s charity beneficiary and $1.5 million was raised to aid military veterans with extraordinary needs upon returning home.
“Corporal Pfeifer’s participation will be a highlight of our 25th anniversary celebration,” said Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports Group, which owns and operates the tournament. “He’s sure to be a gallery favorite in Lake Tahoe and fans around the country will be rooting for Chad to be a leaderboard contender all three days.”
Pfeifer will have to adapt to the tournament’s modified Stableford format and the welcoming par 5s at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, where some of the pro-athlete long-hitters at elevation putt for eagles during every round. Among his other golf accomplishments is the Folds of Honor Foundation’s 2013 Patriot Cup Championship in partnership with PGA Tour standout Zach Johnson.
NBC Sports, NBC Sports Network and Golf Channel will televise the tournament