SAN ANTONIO --
A MacDill Airman lived a dream when he played golf in the Valero Texas Open here May 13 - 16.
Senior Airman John C. Little II, who works in the 6th Security Forces Squadron armory at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., was invited to play in the tournament which is the third oldest PGA Tour tournament.
As the Armed Forces champion, Airman Little is accustomed to playing in and winning tournaments, but this was different.
"I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous," Airman Little said.
"This is a chance of a lifetime for him," said retired Lt. Gen. Steven Polk in a live radio show at the tour. "Certainly a highlight of his round Thursday, he made a putt of 87 feet 7 inches, and I think the longest putt that's been made on the tour this year."
"And it was the shot of the day on the golf channel," said Mark Frye, a talk-show host from radio station KLUP-AM.
According to Airman Little, this wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the Air Force Sports Program headquartered at the Air Force Services Agency here.
"Without a doubt, the Air Force Sports Program is 100 percent of the reason I was here," said Airman Little. "It is a good program and it has allowed me to not only compete here, but to establish meaningful relationships in pursuit of my dreams."
"The Air Force Sports Program is designed to allow active duty, National Guard and the Reserve members an opportunity to participate in Air Force, Armed Forces, national and international sports events," said Frank Black who is the acting director of programs at the Air Force Services Agency. "It is through this program, that Airman Little is getting a look from the PGA while competing in his first professional tournament."
Airman Little swung his first club at age three. At 14, he was playing every day and winning tournaments. That is when he started having aspirations about playing golf professionally.
"I didn't know if I'd ever turn pro, but I was getting some looks from colleges and found out that I had what it took to play at the collegiate level," said Airman Little.
Airman Little played at Auburn as well as Georgia State before joining the Air Force. Fast forward a few years and the 25 year-old played his first professional tournament.
Since Airman Little is in the Air Force, he played under amateur status. "It would have been nice to play as a pro," he said. "But this experience was well worth it. I am extremely grateful for the sponsor exemption which allowed me to play."
Even though Airman Little did not make the cut to play over the weekend, he was grateful for the opportunity and never gave up.
"It's an honor for me to serve my country," said Airman Little. "And, I want to represent the Air Force and myself the best that I can. I love the game of golf but it's important to remember if I hit a bad shot, that I have brothers in the desert in harm's way. Keeping that perspective is very important to me."
For more information about the Air Force Sports Program, go to http://www.usafsports.com.