No different PGA Tour participant has the resume that Tom Whitney has.
Ten years in the past, Whitney was in his fourth yr of service with the USA Air Pressure, serving as a nuclear missile operator at Francis E. Warren Air Pressure Base outdoors Cheyenne, Wyoming.
However what does the job of a nuclear missile operator entail?
“Meaning me and a crew associate had been positioned a few hundred toes underground in a personnel silo instantly wired and hooked up to our nuclear missiles,” Whitney defined Tuesday forward of The American Specific.
“Something that occurs to the missile goes by way of the missile crew, which I used to be part of. So, if upkeep is occurring, a safety response is occurring, if a check, train, fireplace, underground shocks from an earthquake, no matter, now we have to reply to, mainly, we’re the go-between, between safety, upkeep, and every part else.”
Whitney, who carded a 6-under 66 throughout the first spherical of The American Specific, then mentioned how he and his crew would have been those to launch a missile.
Missiles stand close to the Francis E. Warren Air Pressure Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Ron Buskirk/Common Pictures Group by way of Getty Pictures
If the President despatched an order to fireplace a nuclear weapon, the Commander-in-Chief would inform the U.S. Strategic Command, who would then go down the task to Whitney for him to launch.
“Of these 150 missiles [located across the three American nuclear missile bases], myself and my crew associate can be accountable for 10 of them,” Whitney defined.
“You’ll present as much as the bottom, let’s say on a Monday, and mission plan for 2 to 3 hours. We discuss anticipated climate, anticipated upkeep, upkeep that occurs over the past 24-hour interval, and any intelligence or related intelligence threats or conditions. Then simply the rest that may general have an effect on your upcoming alert.”
Whitney’s shifts had been 24 hours at a time. He had eight per thirty days.
“Then you definately drive out to the positioning, which could be anyplace from 45 minutes to 2 and a half hours from the bottom [in Cheyenne],” Whitney stated.
“All the pieces’s unfold out amongst Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska… The whole complicated is concerning the measurement of Rhode Island. If you concentrate on it, there are 150 missiles, 15 personnel websites, and the bottom, and every part is hard-wired underground. So, simply the engineering and planning that went into it to put in these pressure-sensitive cables, and trenching all that to attach every part. It’s a extremely cool weapons system.”
Tom Whitney performs a shot from the bunker on the primary gap throughout The 2024 American Specific.
Photograph by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Pictures
Whitney completed his lively obligation in Could 2014 after which determined to pursue a profession in skilled golf. He certified for the PGA Tour Latinoamérica in 2016, and the next yr, he made the Korn Ferry Tour, the place he made 117 profession begins.
He had his greatest yr on the Korn Ferry Tour final season, ending twenty first within the closing standings to safe his PGA Tour card. The highest 30 gamers on the Korn Ferry Tour acquired playing cards for the 2024 PGA Tour season.
And now he’s 4 behind Zach Johnson and Alex Noren, who presently maintain the 18-hole lead at The American Specific.
“I used to be truly actually excited to start out with this rotation. Though Stadium can chew you, it’s fairly beneficiant off the tee,” Whitney defined after his spherical Thursday.
“I am going into La Quinta [Friday] after getting the nerves out of the primary 18 holes, play just a little tighter golf course, nevertheless it’s additionally very gettable. Then, I am going to get to complete on Nicklaus, which might be the best. So, yeah, all in all, very completely happy, one bogey, seven birdies, I’ll take it.”
Whitney, who putted fantastically on Thursday, tees off at 12:36 p.m. ET on Friday.
Maybe he’ll see extra Air Pressure logos all through the weekend. He noticed a couple of on Thursday. Regardless, airmen in all places will undoubtedly be pulling for him not solely this week however all through his PGA Tour profession.
Jack Milko is a golf workers author for SB Nation’s Enjoying By means of. Make sure you take a look at @_PlayingThrough for extra golf protection. You possibly can comply with him on Twitter @jack_milko as nicely.