LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Capt. Patrick Hawthorne found peace with his golf game while playing alongside the pros at the Children's Miracle Network Classic, the final tournament of the season on the PGA Tour.

Hawthorne, 33, a four-time All-Army golfer stationed at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, realized that with daily work on his game, he might be able to compete with those who golf for a living.

After another solid run through All-Army Golf Camp, the Armed Forces Golf Championships and playing a couple of rounds with PGA Tour pros Charles Howell III, Joe Ogilvie, Jeff Gove and Charlie Wi, Hawthorne was content with his place in golf, a lifetime game.

The amateurs were allowed to tee off one box ahead of the pros in the Pro-Am portion of the Children's Miracle Network Classic, therefore Hawthorne often outdrove the pros in his quartet.

"Well, take advantage of it, because if I come to the base, you've got to play from my tees," Gove teased Hawthorne.
"It was an honor," Gove said of playing alongside Hawthorne on Veterans Day. "He's a real gentleman. We had a great time, and he's doing the Army proud. He hits it nice, too. He's a good player."

Hawthorne thoroughly enjoyed the round - once he settled down.

"That was one of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever done," he said. "The first three or four holes, I was shaking."

Aside from his driver, Hawthorne said he did not hit the ball very well that day. He could not get his hands to stop shaking on his first few putts.

"Both guys were cool as could be, but it doesn't matter, you're still playing on their field," Hawthorne said. "They were very nice, easy to talk to, very encouraging. They went out of their way to let me play golf. They let me play.

"Legitimately, real golf-wise, I shot 2-over par, which isn't bad for your first time. Tomorrow, I'll be a lot more comfortable and hopefully I'll play a lot better."

The next day, Hawthorne shot par alongside the big boys at Walt Disney World.

"You let me do this a few weeks, I could play with these guys, guaranteed," Hawthorne said. "I could beat those guys I played with; yeah, just need a little more work."

Hawthorne finished third and second at the 2003 and '04 All-Army Trial Camps respectively and captured All-Army Golf's top spot in 2009 and 2010. He was fifth at the 2009 Armed Forces Championships and 11th in 2010 at Langley Air Force Base, Va. Hawthorne birdied the last two holes and closed with a round of 74 en route to a disappointing 305.

Hawthorne took two unwanted breaks during the past five years for reconstructive surgeries on his right knee, the result of a rugby injury that will forever haunt him on the links.

"I was playing rugby in Korea and it didn't work out real well," Hawthorne explained. "I'm not 100 percent and never will be. I set up on my left side a little bit when I swing."

Retired from rugby, Hawthorne also gave up competitive running.

"I can run, but I can't run long distances anymore," he said. "I used to run marathons. My wife runs marathons, so I kind of miss it. I can run maybe three or four miles now."

Golf, therefore, is the obvious answer.

"I've told my wife, this is what I'll do," Hawthorne said. "If we have kids, I might put it away for awhile, but I won't ever give this up. I can't. I love the competitive nature of this game, especially when you're winning tournaments."

Hawthorne said he began golfing at age 12 because "my old man made me play because I kept getting hit by the baseballs" as a leadoff batter who had more steals than hits. He helped Mater Dei High School win an Illinois state championship in golf in 1993 before playing four years of NCAA Division I golf at Saint Louis University.

"I was totally burned out," Hawthorne said. "I was sick of it. I wanted to throw every club that I had into the water."

He then stashed the clubs and forged a career as a headhunter in Chicago.

By age 23, Hawthorne was bored, and "figured the Army was a good place to find some excitement."

While attending Advanced Individual Training in Monterey, Calif., he won a small Navy golf tournament and caught the attention of an Army commander who recommended an All-Army Golf tryout.

Getting assigned to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, certainly did not hurt his game, either.

"All of a sudden, I enjoyed the game again," Hawthorne said. "I realized that when I play it my way instead of playing for someone else ... I don't know what the future holds, but I'll keep playing."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16