By Gary Sheftick, Army News ServiceOctober 28, 2019
WUHAN, China -- Linda Jeffery led the U.S. women to a silver team medal by taking an individual bronze after four days of CISM Military World Games competition at Yisham Golf Club in Wuhan, China.
The men's team captured an overall bronze medal at Tianwaitian Golf Club after four days of play. Ian Milne, an Army staff sergeant from Fort Bliss, Texas, led the U.S. men, finishing 12th among 71 golfers from a dozen nations.
Jeffery, a lieutenant colonel from Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, was in first place after the second day of women's competition, shooting two rounds of 73 -- just one shot over par for the course. She posted an 81 on the third day, but came back in the final round with a score of 75, tying the day's score of silver medalist Josephine Farrando of France.
Jeffrey missed an individual silver medal by just one stroke, and U.S. golf coach Doug Quirie agreed she missed silver by the smallest margin after a putt on hole 16 lipped the cup without dropping.
Jeffery said she was battling hip pains throughout the competition. She lay down to stretch out on the fringe of the 15th green after sinking a putt for a birdie on that hole.
"Trying to work this hip issue," she said. "Just trying to stretch it out and get through this round."
Playing through the pain was just a case of "mind over matter," she explained.
The camaraderie with fellow golfers is what keeps her playing, she said. "It's true friendship," she stressed, adding that she visited three different golfers from other militaries over the past year.
"Friendship through sport" is the motto of the International Military Sports Council, which sponsors the games, and Jeffery said it's not just words -- it's real.
U.S. golfer Melanie DeLeon finished the tournament just one shot behind Jeffery to take fourth place among 23 women from nine countries.
DeLeon, an Army second lieutenant, began the tournament with a score of 81 on the first day and 77 on Day 2. But she scored a 73 on the third day, and a 72 in the final round.
"She came back and really played well," Querie said.
DeLeon said she was a bit rusty at first, after not being able to play for months while attending Officer Candidate School. And the high operations tempo she has as a platoon leader for the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany, also keeps her away from the golf course for periods of time.
"I haven't been able to play as much as I like," she said. "I have a mat and a net set up in my ammo shack -- a little warehouse. At lunch or after work, I just go hit golf balls."
Laurel Gill, a Navy lieutenant serving as a meteorologist at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, finished ninth overall in the tournament with scores of 85, 77, 82 and 88.
The women's team medals are awarded after adding up the top two daily scores from each country. The USA team finished a single stroke ahead of France and 10 behind Brazil whose top competitor, Suely Nagl -- a former professional golfer -- took gold.
"Last few years, there's been a lot of tour professionals playing," Quirie said, adding that this makes it tough for those with real military positions. He said sometimes amateurs can get a "little rattled over here."
The U.S. women golfers seemed anything but rattled, though, in the final round.
"It was an awesome experience being out here," DeLeon said, adding it was one of the most special tournaments she ever played.
Following the awards ceremony, the U.S. women were swamped by dozens of adoring young Chinese women wanting autographs and selfies. They signed so many autographs that they almost missed the bus back to the athlete's village.
The men's team competition featured six players from each nation, with the top three scores daily from each country counting for team standings.
Milne began the competition one stroke over par on the Tianwaitian course for a first-day score of 73. He finished the second round with 74 and on the third day, he ended the round with a par score of 72. An 80 in the final round, however, gave him an overall 11 over par.
Gold medalist Rodrigo Lee of Brazil finished 18 under par. Silver medalist Maxime Rodureau of France finished 17 under, and bronze medalist Rafael Becker of Brazil ended up 11 under par. Brazil took the gold, with France winning silver and the U.S. team earning bronze.
The second-place U.S. finisher was Andrew Fecteau, an Air Force captain from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. He began the tournament by finishing one stroke under par, but his overall score after four days put him 14 over.
Dalton Dishman finished third for the U.S. at 18 over par and in 20th place overall. He serves as an Air Force staff sergeant at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.
Justin Broussard finished in 21st place at 19 over par. He serves as an Air Force staff sergeant at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
Brandon Johnson, an Air Force captain at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, finished in 23rd place at 20 over par.
Russell Marion, an Army specialist with the 95th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Company at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, finished 32nd at 29 over par for the four rounds of golf.