Vince Papale knows how to beat the odds.
In 1976, Papale was a 30-year-old bartender and substitute teacher who decided to attend open tryouts for the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite not playing football in college and only a little in high school, he led the Eagles in receptions in the preseason and made the NFL team’s roster.
In a recent phone call reminiscing about the moment he learned he had made the team, Papale said he immediately told coach Dick Vermeil “I will do you justice, and I won’t let you and the city of Philadelphia down.”
The 2006 movie “Invincible” was inspired by his story and starred Mark Wahlberg as Papale. The film wasn’t a documentary, but Papale said it did a good job of capturing his unlikely journey.
Papale is scheduled to be in Las Vegas on May 20 for the sixth annual A Level Playing Field charity golf tournament at Jack Nicklaus’ Bear’s Best Las Vegas. The event was created by Las Vegas resident Susan Spencer, the Eagles’ general manager when Papale played.
The tournament raises funds for disadvantaged high school athletes who can’t play sports because of the financial burden.
“It’s heartbreaking that there are kids out there who want to play sports, but sometimes don’t get that opportunity because of their personal situations,” Spencer said. “There are stories at schools all over Southern Nevada about kids we helped, and I want to make sure coaches know they can call me. We have never turned away any student who needs the help. Vince playing this year is a big deal for us because he beat the odds, and his story can serve as an inspiration for young athletes.”
Papale, now 71, understands how fortunate he was to be given a chance.
“All I was looking for was a shot, and the Eagles’ coaches, management and owners gave me that opportunity and it changed my life forever,” he said.
Other former players scheduled to play include Rod Martin, Johnny Rodgers and Mike Rozier. For more information, see alevelplayingfield.org.
UNLV golf center moves forward
During a recent speech at the Southwest Section, Southern Nevada Chapter, PGA of America annual meeting at Palm Valley Golf Club, UNLV Professional Golf Management program director Chris Cain said the new home of the PGM is scheduled to open in January. The hospitality hall will be part of the William F. Harrah Hotel College, and golf will play a major role in the building, which officials said “will create a new standard of excellence in hospitality education.”
Cain said the hall will be the center of golf at UNLV and feature areas open to all faculty and students, including an outdoor putting green and an indoor swing simulator. Also on site will be classrooms, a pro shop operated by PGM students and a state-of-the-art golf technology lab.
PGA Tour brothers’ first lessons
Tom Fischer, Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort head professional, was the first PGA of America pro to give lessons to future PGA Tour players Chase and Brooks Koepka. Fischer said the two were about 4 and 6 when he introduced them to the game while working at Sherbrooke Golf Club in Florida. The brothers finished tied for fifth last week in the Zurich Classic team event in New Orleans.
Deal of the week
In celebration of Mother’s Day, females can play Club at Sunrise for $25 with cart and range balls after 10 a.m. Monday through Thursday through May 31.
Stars on, off course
Former UNLV golfer Ryan Moore and longtime Rebels golf foundation member Dick Calvert will be inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday.
The golf notebook appears each Thursday. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at email@example.com or @LVGolfInsider on Twitter.
Saturday: Henderson Police Charity tournament, Legacy
Saturday, Sunday: SNGA Nye County Amateur, state qualifier, Mountain Falls
Saturday, Sunday: Southern Nevada Junior Golf Nye Classic, Mountain Falls
Sunday: Golfweek Amateur Tour, Reflection Bay
Monday: U.S. Open qualifier, SouthShore
Monday-Wednesday: UNLV women’s golf at NCAA Regional, Lubbock, Texas
May 11: Women’s SNGA Anthem Invitational, Revere
May 13: Golf Channel Southwest Open, Rhodes Ranch
May 15: United Way tournament, Red Rock Country Club
May 19: U.S. Golf Classic qualifier, Royal Links
May 19, 20: Tiger Jam, Shadow Creek
May 19-21: Golden Tee World Championship, Hi Scores
May 20: A Level Playing Field charity tournament, Bear’s Best
May 20, 21: IMG Junior World Qualifier, Wildhorse
May 25: SNGA Tour, state qualifier, Chimera
June 4-6: NSGA Oliver Cup matches, Las Vegas National
June 5: Drive for Charity Speedway Charities event, Bear’s Best
June 5, 6: Women’s SNGA Senior Amateur, DragonRidge
June 9: Alicia Renee Foundation Golf Classic, Siena
June 11: SNGA Father/Son Invitational, Las Vegas National
June 13: HELP of Southern Nevada Golfer’s Roundup, Cascata
June 24, 25: SNGA Southern Nevada Amateur, Las Vegas Paiute
June 26, 27: Women’s SNGA Southern Nevada Amateur/Silver Cup qualifier, Bear’s Best
What: Wells Fargo Championship.
When: Thursday, Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, Sunday, 10-11:30 a.m. (Golf Channel); noon-3 p.m. (KLAS-8).
Where: Eagle Point Golf Club (7,396 yards, par 72), Wilmington, North Carolina.
Purse: $7.5 million (First place: $1,350,000).
Defending champion: James Hahn.
Last week: Jonax Blixt and Cameron Smith won the Zurich Classic.
Next tournament: The Players Championship, May 11-14.
What: Lorena Ochoa Match Play.
When: Thursday to Sunday (No TV).
Where: Club de Golf Mexico (6,804 yards, par 72), Mexico City.
Purse: $1.2 million (First place: $200,000).
Defending champion: Carlota Ciganda.
Last tournament: Hara Nomura won the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout.
Next tournament: Kingsmill Championship, May 18-21.
PGA Tour Champions
What: Insperity Invitational.
When: Friday, 3-5 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, noon-3 p.m. (Golf Channel). Sunday, noon-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel).
Where: The Woodlands Country Club, tournament course (7,018 yards, par 72), The Woodlands, Texas.
Purse: $2.15 million (First place: $322,500).
Defending champion: Jesper Parnevik.
Last tournament: Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco won the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.
Next tournament: Regions Tradition, May 18-21.
The Associated Press