American Century Championship: Purple Heart honorary Rod Gorman to make debut in July
Swinging a golf club with the use of two good hands is a chore for many who play the game, but swinging with one hand would seem next to impossible.
That is the card that war hero Rod Gorman has been dealt after being shot three times in a firefight during a tour in Iraq. He was hit in the right forearm which shattered his radius bone and damaged the radial nerve. He was also shot in the pelvis and right big toe.
Gorman, 49, has endured more than 40 surgeries including a nerve transplant. Those injuries didn’t stop him from winning the Warrior Open last October, which earned him a spot in the 26th annual American Century Championship July 17-19 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline.
Because of the injury to his forearm, Gorman essentially is a one-handed player. He’s adapted well, considering he is a 12-1 pick to win this year’s tournament, according to the sports book at Harrahs.
“I can’t feel half of it (right hand),” Gorman told Scott Mansch from his hometown paper in Montana. “I wear a glove on it to make sure I’ve got the right grip.
“I think it’s helped my game. I think I’m a little better; more consistent. I get to my left side (during the swing). I’m more consistent. I don’t hit it as long as I did when I was younger, but I think I’m more consistent.”
Gorman, a retired Sgt. Major in the Army, was consistent enough to beat Chad Pfeifer, who won the previous three Warrior Open tournaments, by a couple of shots at last year’s event. Pfeifer made his ACC debut last year and finished fifth.
Golf has been therapeutic for Gorman.
“Golf has allowed me to de-stress,”Gorman said during Monday’s conference call with the media. “I enjoy the serenity of it.”
Like any golfer, Gorman has had his ups and downs. Golf is a humbling sport, and Gorman said he feels things have gone well one day and not so good the next. That is golf, or any sport for that matter, in a nutshell. He strives for perfection, and that’s why drives him.
He admitted to his local paper, the Great Falls Tribune, that he was apprehensive about playing in the ACC.
“Because you don’t know what you don’t know,” he said. “I won’t worry too much about it. I don’t get overly emotional about things.”
Gorman said that he didn’t have any sports heroes growing up, but was asked during the conference call who he would like to meet out of the 80-plus player field.
“That’s a tough one to say,” he said. “I’m an old school type of guy. When I was in high school people like Marcus Allen, his name kept popping up.”
Gorman enlisted in the service twice. Following a four-year commitment that ended in 1987, he came home to Montana but didn’t stay long.
He re-enlisted in the Army, and he always went where the action was. All told he had eight overseas deployments, two to Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia three times and Iraq.
Gorman is old school all the way. He loves his country, and he has always respected it. He has won a Purple Heart. He doesn’t consider himself a war hero, just a guy that goes out and works hard everyday.
He retired in 2011, but he is still involved in the military. He instructs Special Op forces, and he also teaches “close quarters battle”. He feels it’s his job to continue helping the new generation of soldiers. He believes that a lot of knowledge was never passed on to younger soldiers, and he doesn’t want to be guilty of not caring enough to pass down what he’s learned over the years.
Many of the questions during the ACC conference call on Monday were directed to former NBA players Shane Battier and Vinny Del Negro, who also coached in the NBA.
Gorman said that thanks to the Armed Forces Network he and soldiers all over the world are able to keep abreast of big sporting events.
“All the games get piped in,” he said. “The soldiers are pretty much in tune to what’s going on.”