Arkansas golfer with Poteau ties a hit on the fairways, using sport to cope with father's death

Garett Ford, 17, of Hartford, Ark., has passionately been playing the game of golf for more than half his life. Each year, he has proven that he is a force to be reckoned with on the green.With him, each step of the way has been his devoted family, father, Gary, and mother, Sharon — both giving 110 percent support to their son, and his love for the game. However, that changed this year.Garett's No. 1 fan and best friend, his dad, became ill in May and had to be hospitalized when his lower intestine shut down. Little did Garett and his family know that this was just the beginning of five weeks of battling his dad would fight.Unfortunately, this battle was one that Gary would not overcome. On July 6, as countless hearts broke, Garett, Sharon and his sister Lauren said goodbye to their hero as Gary entered into eternal rest.This heartache would have had most putting down their clubs, but not Garett. He continued his journey with the knowledge that his dad had taught him and the love for the game that his dad had instilled in his heart. With the Ford drive and determination, Garett earned the title of PGA Junior Golf's 2012 Player of the Year for the South Central Section.Ford earned points at each event by placing in the top 10 and had a 181-point lead going into the championship round. At the end of the championship round, Garett was announced the winner by 181.25 points.Ford played tournaments at Ardmore's Dornick Hills Country Club, Stillwater, Newton, Kan., Fort Smith, Ark., Bartlesville, Andover, Kan., Rogers, Ark., The Oaks Country Club in Tulsa, and the PGA Junior South Central Section Championship at Gaillardia Country Club in Oklahoma City last month. The family would like to say a special thank you to Roy Shankle and Todd Michael for getting him to his first three tournaments.Ford has now began his junior year at Hartford High School, and is preparing to represent his school at the District Golf Tournament this month. He and his family would like to thank everyone who supported and encouraged him.Garett is the grandson of Louise Killion of Poteau and Patty Thornburg of Spiro, and the nephew of Chad and Dedee Tolbert of Poteau and Cody and Melissa Shackelford of Fort Smith.