U.S. ADAPTIVE OPEN
Lee Surges to Men's Lead; Moore Leads Women Through 36 Holes
July 19, 2022 | VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C.
By Greg Midland, USGA
In Round 2 of the Inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open on Tuesday at Pinehurst Resort’s Course No. 6, more inspiring stories emerged of players overcoming challenges to compete at a national championship level. No one has done it better so far than Simon Lee, who shot a second consecutive 1-under-par 71 to surge to a two-stroke lead over Felix Norrman of Sweden in the men’s division, while first-round women’s leader Kim Moore of Portage, Mich., struggled a bit but still holds a four-stroke edge heading into Wednesday’s final round.
Lee, a 25-year-old professional from the Republic of Korea who grew up in the U.S., was diagnosed with autism at a young age and has difficulty communicating. But Lee excels with a golf club in his hands, as he showed again on Tuesday. He carded three birdies, including two in his last six holes, and his 142 total is the only 36-hole under par.
Upon being told that he was leading the championship, Lee expressed surprise. “I didn’t realize it,” he said. “I don’t look at leader boards.”
When asked to name his favorite part of golf, Lee responded with a smile, “Driving.” Lee’s caddie, Seulgi Yun, confirmed his player’s analysis by simply stating, “He drives the ball really well and makes birdies.”
Moore, who has a leg impairment, was even par through seven holes, then went double bogey-bogey to finish the front nine and didn’t feel completely comfortable afterward. “The last nine was kind of a grind for sure,” said Moore, who is the head women’s golf coach at Western Michigan University. “I think I was starting to overheat. I'm glad I finished strong with a par, and I'm still leading, so that's always good. Hopefully I can put together a better round tomorrow and stay a little more hydrated out there.”
Moore’s closest pursuer for the overall women’s title is Ryanne Jackson, of St. Petersburg, Fla., who has a form of muscular dystrophy. Jackson shot a second consecutive 80 for a 16-over 160 total, four strokes behind.
The first-round men’s division leader, Chad Pfeifer of Caldwell, Idaho, wasn’t able to keep pace with Lee, carding a 78 in Round 2. He sits alone in third place, six strokes behind the leader at 4-over 148, but will be in the final group on Wednesday and is eager to rebound.
“I'll just try to play my best tomorrow,” said Pfeifer. “Maybe being with who I'm chasing might help. I'll be able to judge off of his game. I'm still going to try to be aggressive and stick to the game plan.”
Also looking for a big final day to perhaps get into contention for the title are Jack Bonifant, of Kensington, Md., and Kipp Popert, of England, who sit seven strokes behind Lee at 5-over 149. Five-time PGA Tour winner Ken Green is one stroke farther back at 6-over 150.
The final round will take place on Wednesday. Tee times will again begin at 8 a.m., with the leading groups going off last.
Jeremy Bittner, of Moore Township, Pa., recorded his first hole-in-one and the first in championship history on the 189-yard 4th hole. “It was playing downhill and I just took a little off a 6-iron. When it disappeared I actually thought, oh no, what happened, and then everybody started screaming and I was like, oh, that was a good thing. For the next 10 minutes I was shaking.” Bittner finished the day at 6-over 78.
Sarah Larson, of Green Bay, Wis., has had too many big numbers on her scorecard through two rounds to be among the contenders in the arm impairment category. But Larson had a highlight-worthy moment on the par-3 12th hole when she stroked a birdie putt from 40 feet that dropped into the side of the hole for a birdie. The putt made it onto Golf Channel’s “Golf Today,” with hosts Damon Hack and George Savaricas providing play by play and speculating on whether Larson had a cheesehead in her golf bag. (She doesn’t). Larson called the Golf Channel appearance “so cool.”
Chris Biggins, 30, of Birmingham, Ala., was born with cerebral palsy, slowing his physical development and requiring him to use a walker to get around as a child. He has no issue walking when he plays golf, however, and in fact, he embraces it. Biggins is one of the few Adaptive Open competitors to decline the use of a golf cart, walking the fairways with his caddie. “It helps me stay loose,” Biggins said. “I feel like an athlete when I’m out there.” While Biggins struggled during his second round, shooting an 81 after a first-round 74, he is still in position to contend for the top prize in the neurological impairment category.
A handful of players made significant jumps up the leader board on Tuesday by bouncing back with much lower scores. Rasmus Lia of Sweden, who has a leg impairment, recorded a 2-under 70 that was 14 strokes better than his first-round 84. “I holed a bunch of putts, had more birdies and I played a bit more conservative from the tee, and that kind of helped,” he said. Mandi Sedlak, also with a leg impairment, shot an 80 to improve by 12 strokes over her first-round 92. That moved the Kearney, Neb., resident into third place in the women’s division.
“If you look at the leader board, there's some pretty damned good golfers here. Hopefully this tournament continues to grow and we get more and more people playing, and it'll be exciting times in the future for sure.” – Jesse Florkowski (arm impairment), 32, of Canada
“I think when the general public sees us or other adaptive people in general that maybe aren’t inspired by golf, I think that they’re going to look at this as hey, I can do this, too. There's a lot of people that are maybe embarrassed about a disability or a setback that they may have in life, and maybe this will give them courage to go out and try something new. I also think that it's going to give not only amputees but adaptive players in general more respect on their normal golf courses back home.” – Mandi Sedlak (leg impairment), 42, of Kearney, Neb.
“It's the first time I've ever felt as close to like a Tour event as possible. I've been to a lot of golf tournaments before, nothing this spectacular, and to be told by every single person you meet, every volunteer, every spectator, that they're so impressed and so inspired by everybody and what they're doing out here, especially some of those at the top of the leader board, that's some incredible golf. It's really fun.” – Kiefer Jones (vision impairment), 31, of Canada
“I don't really play much competitive golf. The feeling of the nerves is very real for me. I was a little nervy on the last, on the first. But to be a part of this field, I was again with Amy [Bockerstette] today and my pairing was amazing. So every time I just look out, the joy and the celebration, for me to be here is just a privilege.” – Jordan Thomas (multiple limb amputee), 33, of Nashville, Tenn.
The Social Scene
In awe of the amazing athletes competing in this week's inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open. Best of luck! pic.twitter.com/QzDX55KVf5— Amy Olson (@AmyOlsonGolf) July 19, 2022
@GolfweekNichols - cannot thank you enough for the steady stream of “story-telling” you provide @USGA Adaptive Open. These athletes truly cherish our Game - they deserve our attention and our support - THANK YOU https://t.co/gA2pdrXIYA— Michael Whan (@USGAMike) July 19, 2022
36 down, 18 to go.⏳— Georgia State Golf Association (@GSGA) July 19, 2022
Cathy Walch and Stacey Rice have completed their first two rounds of the #usadaptiveopen @PinehurstResort No.6!
📸Check out the photo gallery.https://t.co/n3jlIUWzXi pic.twitter.com/3zvPmplgn0