Colonial Tees Off With Pro-Am

Tournament honors military again

By Chris Van Horne
|  Wednesday, May 23, 2012  |  Updated 8:37 PM CDT
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The 2012 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is underway in Fort Worth, starting Wednesday with the Pro-Am.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter

The 2012 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is underway in Fort Worth, starting Wednesday with the Pro-Am.

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The PGA Tour has shifted from Irving to Fort Worth for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial this week.

Wednesday's events featured the PRO-AM tournament, which provided amateurs with an opportunity to play with some of the game's most notable professionals.

It was also an opportunity for many youngsters to join the professionals and amateurs on the course as caddies.

Leah Hudson of Birdville High School arrived at Colonial at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

"Our coach introduced the idea to us of being caddies at the Colonial, so this is my first year," she said. "It really allows you to be in the middle of the action. [At] the Byron Nelson, you can watch but here, you get to be a caddie, so that's pretty cool."

Hudson is on her school's golf team and finished 10th in regionals. She said her first experience at the Colonial beats out the competition -- even if she didn't get to carry a bag.

"By the looks of it, there's going to be a lot of people disappointed," she said as she waited to officially find out that no other amateur needed a caddie.

The tournament weekend is also an opportunity to thank local service members. The Colonial handed out 4,000 free tickets to the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston and Sheppard Air Force Base.

"We're the first tournament to ever do it, and we're proud of it," said Jim Thomason, military liaison for Colonial.

Thomason said most major tournaments and the PGA have followed with their own liaison to the military.

This is the sixth year the Colonial has given out free tickets. XTO Energy financed a hospitality tent that features free food and drinks for those with military identification.

"This is a genuine way to express our appreciation for the jobs that they do," Thomason said.

Marine Sgt. Kenya Davis, who is stationed at NASRJB, and his wife said they appreciated the gesture.

"It's a breath of fresh air," Davis said of the tent. "And the fact that some people have donated this to the military says a lot; it's a big thanks."

The tournament for the professionals starts with a 7:30 a.m. tee time on Thursday. The pros are going after a $1.1 million top prize this week.

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