Putts were falling and smiles were beaming.
Mandy Demerse celebrated with her caddie Michelle Cundarie after putting out on hole 18 on Wednesday morning at the 2017 Special Olympics North America Golf Championship at Willows Run Golf Complex in Redmond.
Demerse, 29, who hails from North Bay Ontario, Canada, said she was pleased to sink the last putt. She had some challenges in the rough during her round, but said, “It was very good, I felt like myself. Less nerves from day one, but I’m playing my game.”
On the three-day tournament, she added: “It’s really good, I have a whole bunch of friends now, and people added me on Facebook — I’m happy.”
More than 230 golfers and coaches came from across the United States and Canada on Monday through Wednesday to play in individual and team competitions on nine- and 18-hole courses, as well as individual skills competitions.
After finishing his 18th hole on Wednesday morning, Michael Gallagher, 35, of Dallas, Texas, said he had some ups and downs on the course.
With his dad and caddie Bill Gallagher sitting next to him in their golf cart, Michael added about the event: “I love it, hanging out with all my friends.”
Also out on the course was Beth Knox, president and CEO of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. That event will take place next summer and Knox and others helped Special Olympics North America produce this week’s championship. It was an opportunity to test their systems for the 2018 games.
“We’ve had just a phenomenal group of golfers for the national golf championship,” she said, noting that the average age of golfers is 26. “We’ve had great weather. It’s been perfect for golfing and they’ve been performing at a really high level of quality out there on the course.”
Knox said it was fun to follow the players in her cart during their rounds.
“They’re having a great time out there, which is what it’s all about,” she said, adding that the volunteers were the force behind the tournament and kept it running smoothly.