BOB WEST ON GOLF — Jerry Honza honored at Zaharias Junior Golf Awards
On a night when former Lamar University great Kelly Gibson challenged and regaled the area’s top junior golfers with some memorable stories of his PGA Tour career, the lasting highlight of the Babe Zaharias Junior Golf Awards was a 10-year service honor to PNG boys coach Jerry Honza.
Honza, who conceived the idea of the Zaharias Awards and did the heavy lifting to keep them going for years, received a plaque and a video tribute in ceremonies Monday night at 5 Under Golf Center. He is passing the torch for overseeing the awards to Austin Williams of 5 Under.
“Jerry has done so much for junior golf in Southeast Texas,” said Williams. “These awards were his vision and he has worked so hard to keep building on them. I had no idea how much work was involved until I became a part of it this year. It was so good for these kids to see up close how much Jerry has meant and done for junior golf.”
As for the awards themselves, LCM senior Jack Burke was honored for the third time as Male Player of the Year. The Female Player of the Year Award went to Makena Henry of Hardin-Jefferson.
Other winners included Presley Parchmant of West Brook and Patrick Miller of Kelly for the Character and Leadership Awards and Anabelle Cardeneas of Kelly and Xander Parks of Orangefield for the inaugural Underclass Player of the Year Award open to freshmen and sophomores.
Lindsey Miller of Hardin-Jefferson was named Female Coach of the Year while Honza was saluted as Male Coach of the Year.
Gibson, a legendary golf promoter and fundraiser in his hometown of New Orleans was introduced by another LU alum – Houston Astros Sr. VP/General Counsel Giles Kibbe. Kibbe’s introduction included talking about what a powerful influence Gibson was on him at Lamar and how good a player he went on to become.
A 2000 inductee into the Lamar University Hall of Honor, Gibson’s most captivating story was how he nearly denied Tiger Woods his first PGA Tour victory in the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational. After hitting a ball in the water on the par 5, 16th and three-putting for bogey on the par 3, 17th the final day, Gibson missed being in a playoff with Woods and Davis Love III by one stroke.
He would never score a victory on the PGA Tour, but did have nine top 10 finishes and also won once on the Nike Tour and twice on the Canadian Tour. Off the course his top honor has been receiving the Golf Writers Association of America Charlie Bartlett Award for “Unselfish Contributions to the Betterment of Society.”
Gibson made the point to the assembled junior golfers that to be successful at the highest level in anything you have a have a burning passion to be good. He underscored the point by saying the reason for that is the person next to you, the person trying to better you, will have that passion.
Considering the level to which college golf has ascended these days with mind-blowing practice complexes, he said the reason he signed with Lamar back in the early ‘80s was the school’s facilities. At the time, Lamar had a full-sized driving range across the street from the apartment where he would stay.
He told those in attendance that the driving range gave him extra time to practice and that he took full advantage of it, hitting balls for hours and hours. He also talked about how good Lamar’s golf program was in those days, with back-to-back trips to the NCAA and five players who would go on to the PGA Tour.
CHIP SHOTS: Kevin Turner of Crystal Beach authored the shot of the week at Babe Zaharias. Turner sank his sixth ace, using a gap wedge from 115 yards on the 7th hole. It was déjà vu of sorts for Turner whose first ever hole in one came on that same 7th hole.
Witnesses were Johnny Page, Dale Williams and Bobby Wactor.
Jeremy Blackwell shot rounds of 78-77 for a 36-hole total of 155 that was good for a 9-stroke victory over Damian Garcia in Boys 15-18 in the Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour YMBL tournament played Monday and Tuesday at Bayou Din.
Other flight winners included Annabel Cardenas (106-95–201 in Girls 15-18), Brayden Akers (77-80—157 in Boys 13-14) and Jules Mahan (80-87–167 in Girls 13-14).
In the Little Linksters portion of the event, winners were Reece Williams (44 in Boys 11-12, 9 hole), Erin Eaves (57 in Girls 11-12, 9 hole), Maggie Stutz (53 in Girls 9-10, 9 hole) and Jason Morgan (27 in Co-ed 6-8, 5 hole modified).
Wet conditions at Zaharias forced the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball to be played in a par 4 format. Winning the front with a sizzling 13 under was the team of Jim Cady, Ron LaSalle, Scott Bryant and Jason Ferguson.
On the back, there was a two-way tie for first at minus 9 between the team of Cap Hollier, Ted Freeman, Jeff Rinehart and Bobby Kimball and the foursome of Keith Mullins, Wactor, Larry Foster and Dwayne Benoit.
Rain and soggy conditions cancelled the Friday and Saturday senior games at Zaharias. In the Thursday 2 ball, the team of Kenny Robbins Danny Robbins, Rusty Hicks, Charles Perez and Richard Menchaca prevailed with minus 2.
The back ended in a three-way tie at minus 2 between teams captained by Cody Metts, Kenny Robbins and Bob West.
All points count was the format for the Wednesday Zaharias DogFight. It ended in a tie at 29 points between the team of Cricket Owen, Raymond Darbonne, Dan Flood and Selensky and the foursome of Ed Holley, Danny Robbins, Roy Martinez and Jerry Watson.
Closest to the pin winners were Frank LeBlanc (No. 2), Gary Fontenot (No. 7), Hicks (No. 12) and Kenny Robbins (No. 15).
The Tuesday, June 1st 2 ball saw the team of Craig Geoffroy, Earl Richard, Eddie Delk and Richard Menchaca win the front with minus 7. On the back, the foursome of Jeremy Hemler, Rick Pritchett, John House and Flood took first with even par.
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