Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

    The 34-year-old Air Force veteran and former nuclear missile operator begins his first season on the PGA Tour playing in honor of his late brother and fellow airman in his California hometown.

    PGA Tour rookie Tom Whitney’s first event is in his hometown of La Quinta
    Whitney, an Air Force veteran, last played on the PGA Tour in 2018.
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    PGA Tour rookie Tom Whitney isn’t sweating ahead of the start of the 2024 season. As an Air Force veteran and former nuclear missile operator, the consequences of a misfire at the links are considerably less significant than a mishap at his old job.

    Additionally, as a card-carrying member of the PGA Tour, Whitney has a little more job security than when she first played at The American Express in her hometown of La Quinta, California, six years earlier.

    “There was more pressure here in 2018 because of a sponsor invitation,” said Whitney, a La Quinta High School graduate. “I was chatting with my caddy today and I feel like I belong here. I have earned the right to have this card.

    The married father of four plays in memory of his older brother and fellow airman, Bob, who committed suicide four years ago. Tom Whitney uses his brother’s Air Force dog tag as a ball marker.

    “I think it’s the perfect time,” Whitney told reporters. ‘God has me right where I’m supposed to be. Yes, I’m looking forward to entering my prime.’

    Tom Whitney recently qualified for his first PGA Tour card after playing on the Korn Ferry Tour.

    Whitney, left, with his wife at the Air Force Academy and, right, with his late brother, Bob.

    Whitney is pictured with his wife and four children before returning to the PGA Tour this year.

    Whitney also wears an Air Force Flacons headcover when she plays, which serves as a reminder of how far she has come.

    After playing collegiately for the Falcons, Whitney served in the Air Force for four years as a nuclear missile operator. According to DesertSun.com, Whitney was the person the president could call when it came time to launch a major airstrike against a foreign country.

    “Golf is precisely what I’m currently doing and I feel completely blessed to be able to do it,” he said Tuesday, as quoted by DesertSun.com. ‘But I could still be in the Air Force, somewhere I don’t want to be.

    ‘I could be in danger. He could be fighting enemies. I have lost friends and loved ones in the military. I have friends who are deployed. And I’m here in Palm Springs with a two-mile-an-hour wind, 75 degrees, and I’m getting paid to play these fantastic golf courses. Absolutely, I have a different perspective.”

    While Whitney considers himself lucky to play professional golf, he admits he sometimes misses the Air Force.

    “It’s not a sexy job while you’re doing it, and sometimes it can’t even be very fun,” she said. But I will tell you that it wasn’t long after I broke up and left that job and started playing golf full time until I missed it. “I was completely wrong with what I had, and you think the grass literally gets greener the further you get into a golf career, and man, I had it easy.”

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