Talent, coupled with hard work, has paid off for Brandon teen, James Morotti, who will be representing his community during the 2016 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, California. The tournament is an official PGA TOUR Champions event scheduled for September 13-18, that is televised internationally on the Golf Channel.

As one of 165 chapters around the country, The First Tee of Tampa Bay is a Tampa YMCA youth development program, which was pleased to announce the selection of the 16-year-old by a national panel of judges who evaluated a number of qualifying elements, which aside from playing ability, included comprehension of the life skills and character education learned through involvement with The First Tee.

According to program officials, Morotti will join 80 other participants from The First Tee chapters as they team up with 81 PGA TOUR Champions players and 162 amateurs as they compete for the pro-junior title at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course.

“The teenagers selected to play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open, including James, have worked hard to prepare for this opportunity, and we are immensely proud to welcome them to this year’s tournament,” said Carla Vernón at General Mills. “At Nature Valley we have great admiration for the mission of The First Tee. The program has such a meaningful impact in the lives of young people by strengthening important values like responsibility, judgment and perseverance.”

Players now committed to compete include two-time major championship winner John Daly, World Golf Hall of Fame member and 28-time PGA TOUR Champions winner Bernhard Langer, and defending champion Esteban Toledo.

Morotti, a rising junior at Strawberry Crest High School, has been playing golf for more than a decade and spoke highly of The First Tee of Tampa Bay program, which he said helped him launch his golf career and more.

“I joined The First Tee at the age of seven and was provided with equipment that my family could not afford,” he said. “I played at golf courses and tournaments that I would have never been able to play on before. Most importantly, I learned how to be a gentleman overall and be kind to my fellow player.”

For information about The First Tee of Tampa Bay, visit www.thefirstteetampabay.org.

For information about the 2016 Nature Valley First Tee Open, visit www.thefirstteeopen.com.

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