Falcons Soar

Keeping the momentum going for former Air Force Academy golfers, Tom Whitney posts his first career top-15 finish on PGA Tour

By Gary Baines – 1/27/2024

Arguably the top two golfers in Air Force Academy history have been garnering plenty of attention in recent weeks on golf’s most prominent tours.

Kyle Westmoreland (a Falcon from 2010-14), who last season became the first former AFA golfer to be a card-holding member of the PGA Tour, earlier this month posted back-to-back top-five finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour. That included a career-best runner-up showing on Wednesday in the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic.

Then this week in his second start as a PGA Tour rookie, Tom Whitney (a Falcon from 2006-10) recorded by far his best performance out of the five PGA Tour events he’s played over the years. The 34-year-old, who used to live in Fort Collins before moving to Texas, tied for 13th on Saturday at the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, Calif.

In his only previous made cut on the PGA Tour, Whitney placed 67th in the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge (now called The American Express).

Paired with Denver native Mark Hubbard and Keegan Bradley on Saturday at the formidable Torrey Pines South Course, Whitney closed with a 4-under-par 68, making five birdies and one bogey on the day. For the week, he checked in at 8 under par, five strokes behind champion Matthieu Pavon. The showing was worth $156,536.

Whitney attributed his good play in large part to the way he hit his driver at Torrey Pines.

Tom Whitney during his CBS interview on Saturday.

While golf fans in Colorado may very well know Whitney’s story — including the fact he used to serve as a missile operator at a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile site near F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., and that he lost his brother, also a former Air Force Academy golfer, to suicide — national audiences are just starting to learn more about his background. That included on Saturday, when Whitney was interviewed after his round by CBS.

“This is a game-changer,” Whitney said on the network, regarding his strong finish. “… Overall I was very satisfied with this week.

“I have the perspective that I’m very blessed and very fortunate that I get to play this game for a living. … There’s a lot of real-life things that I’ve been through. It makes a bad day on the golf course really not that bad. I count my blessings. I’m fortunate to go to places with great weather and great courses and get to play this game for a living. What am I going to complain about?”

Also on Saturday, another player with a stellar showing was former Inspirato Colorado Open champion Nate Lashley, who tied for third. And Taylor Montgomery, son of former state high school champion Monte Montgomery, placed 13th.

For all the scores from Torrey Pines, CLICK HERE.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates