Lewisville First Tee of the Triad Student Plays Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach


GREENSBORO, N.C. – – Later this week, Lewisville’s Ryan Birkedal will tee it up on one of the most famous golf courses in the world: The Pebble Beach Golf Links in Monterey, Calif. Birkedal, a First Tee of the Triad student, will play in this week’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, an official PGA TOUR Champions event hosted by Monterey Peninsula Foundation.

Play will be conducted on both Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course on Friday and Saturday, with the final round slated solely for Pebble Beach on Sunday. All three rounds will be televised on Golf Channel. Following Saturday’s second round, the tournament will cut the field to the top 81 professionals and the low 23 junior/amateur teams. Those junior golfers missing the cut will play in the Core Values Cup at Poppy Hills on Sunday.

“I’m really excited to play Pebble Beach – I guess that’s kind of an understatement,” Birkedal said. “Just having the chance to play the course where so many great legends have played in the past is an awesome opportunity. Pebble Beach is one of the greatest courses of all time, and I’m really thankful to the First Tee for giving me the opportunity to have this experience.”

Birkedal is one of 81 young men and women ages 14 to 18 who was selected by a national panel of judges that evaluated participants’ playing ability and comprehension of the life skills and core values learned through their involvement with The First Tee.

“The application process was pretty extensive,” Birkedal said. “The hardest part was all the essays, and I really wanted to get them right. In addition to the essays, you have to be under a six handicap, and they wanted to know about my golf resume – what tournament’s I’d played in.”
Birkedal is a home-schooled, high school senior. In addition to having achieved the Ace level in The First Tee of the Triad programming, he plays on the Forsyth Home Educators golf team competing against both public and private schools in Forsyth County. He began at The First Tee of the Triad in 2008.

The juniors will be teamed with 81 PGA TOUR Champions players and 162 amateurs as they compete for the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach pro-junior title. Among the PGA TOUR Champions golfers scheduled to compete are World Golf Hall of Famers Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh and Tom Watson as well as former Wyndham Championship winners Rocco Mediate, Scott Hoch, Jesper Parnevik, O’Meara, Mike Springer, Mark Brooks, Scott Simpson and Craig Stadler as well as John Daly.

“I would love to play with Tom Watson,” Birkedal said. “I’ve heard really great things about him. He’s such a great golfer and a nice guy so I would love to play with him. I’m a little nervous, but I’m also really excited. It’s not just golf; there’s different stuff after each round you can do like a concert (Andy Grammer) and a champions dinner (in the Pebble Beach Lodge) where you can meet a lot of people from around the country so it’s a really cool opportunity.”

Birkedal is the fifth First Tee of the Triad student selected to participate in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Previous participants were. Seth Lomison from Pfafftown, N.C. just outside Winston-Salem, Matthew Guo from Clemmons, N.C., Mark Johnston from Lewisville, N.C., and Chandler Wilkins from Danville, Va. This announcement caps of a record-setting year for the First Tee of the Triad. Birkedal is the seventh First Tee of the Triad student selected to participate in a national event hosted by The First Tee.

“We are so incredibly proud of Ryan, and we congratulate him on being selected to represent our chapter at this fantastic Pebble Beach event,” The First Tee of the Triad CEO Mike Barber said. “We’ve had a banner year in the national event department, and we are elated to bat a thousand this year – seven First Tee of the Triad students were accepted into the seven events for which they applied. That says a great deal about the young people participating in The First Tee of the Triad programming and the volunteer coaches who work with them. Thanks to many generous Piedmont Triad companies and individuals, our students are able to attend these events at no expense; we appreciate their generosity very much.”

For more information, visit www.thefirstteeopen.com. To learn more about The First Tee, visit www.thefirsttee.org.

About The First Tee of the Triad:
The First Tee of the Triad is currently operating at 16 facilities throughout the Piedmont Triad, central North Carolina and southern Virginia. Its programming is offered at Bryan Park in Browns Summit, Country Club of Salisbury, Gillespie Golf Course in Greensboro, Goodyear Golf Course in Danville, Va., Greensboro National Golf Club in Summerfield, Indian Valley Golf Course in Burlington, Iron Play Par 3 Links in Summerfield, Jamestown Park Golf Course, Oak Hollow Golf Course in High Point, Rick Murphy Golf Academy in Greensboro, Ringgold Golf Course in Ringgold, Va., Statesville Country Club, Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, Winding Creek Golf Course in Thomasville and Winston Lake Golf Course in Winston-Salem. The First Tee of the Triad is one of 180 chapters operating some 1,000 golf programming locations in all 50 states and four foreign countries with more than 10 million participants. More than 7,000 elementary schools participate in The First Tee National School Program.

About The First Tee:
The First Tee, an initiative of the World Golf Foundation, has as its mission, “To impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.” The goal of The First Tee is to provide the golf-learning facilities and the experience that will enable kids from every walk of life to partake of a game that teaches values for life and which can be played for a lifetime. Founded by the World Golf Foundation in 1997, The First Tee is a way to bring golf to children that otherwise would not be exposed to the game or its positive values. The program is overseen and has the active support of committee members representing Augusta National Golf Club, the Ladies Professional Golf Association, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and the United States Golf Association. Former President George W. Bush serves as Honorary Chairman; he succeeds his father, former president George H.W. Bush, who served as The First Tee’s Honorary Chairman since the organization’s inception in 1997 and now serves as the Honorary Chair Emeritus.

Contact:Mike Barber
The First Tee of the Triad