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Tony Lema: A Short Life on the Golf Course

Tony Lema: A Short Life on the Golf Course: Tony Lema was a professional US golfer. He was born on February 25, 1934 at Oakland, California. At the age of three, he was orphaned by his father and his mother was the one who struggled to raise him and his three siblings. He started playing golf at a young age under the tutelage of Lucius Bateman. By the age of 17, he enlisted himself to be a part of the US Marine Corps and was deployed at Korea. But after being discharged from duty on 1955, he proceeded to work as an assistant of a club professor at a golf club in San Francisco. He struggled financially, but a wealthy businessman with the name of Eddie Lowery sponsored him and encouraged him to play golf professionally. PGA Tour Titles/Major Title: Tony Lema joined the PGA Tour in 1957 and won the Imperial Valley Open. His victory ride was short-lived as he struggled to win after that. But in 1962, his struggle as a golfer ended with a win at the Orange County Open Invitational. He was nicknamed 'Champagne Tony' by the press because on the eve of his victory at the Orange County Open Invitational, he joked around the media and told them that he would serve them champagne, if ever he would win the tournament. He then proceeded to win more tournaments. In fact, in the next four years of his golfing career, he won 12 PGA Tour events. From 1963-1966, he was consistently included in the top 10. He was also a member of the Ryder Cup team in 1963 and 1965 and he earned an impressive record of 9-1-1. Tony Lema won the 1964 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am tournament and another three tournaments in a span of three weeks. After two weeks, he then proceeded to win his first and only major championship which is the British Open where he beat Jack Nicklaus. He then proceeded to win other tournaments. End of a Career: But in 1966, his career ended when the chartered plane that was carrying him and his wife crashed and killed the couple and other companions. In honor of him, a public golf course at the San Francisco Bay area was named after him - the Tony Lema Golf Course. A well-loved and accomplished golfer, he was included in the Big 5 along with Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. He is a name to remember in the field of golf.




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