Friday, April 2, 2010

Retrospective: The 1965 Thunderbird Classic- Westchester Country Club

Jay Hebert tees off

Sam Snead- caught alone in his thoughts as he strides toward the green at Westchester

In the summer of 1965, my friend George Shepard and I journeyed to Rye, New York to attend the PGA 's Thunderbird Classic at venerable Westchester Country Club. My folks Weldon and Bea Case made it possible. George and I both played on the golf team for our local high school and this was a big treat. I snapped off a number of photos during the practice round which Lisa and I have recently found in my Dad's old slides, and we have converted them to digital. Here they are!

I always tended to root for underdogs instead of Arnie and Jack. Two of my favorites were Lionel and Jay Hebert, shown above. Both brothers won the PGA - Lionel in '57 at Miami Valley in Dayton and Jay in '60 at Firestone in Akron. Lionel was known as a mean trumpet player while Jay was the hard-bitten World War II ex-marine. They were very gracious in posing for a picture taken by this 16 year old kid.

My folks knew the great Cary Middlecoff winner of two U.S. Opens and a Masters. Cary came aboard my dad's boat docked in New York during the tournament. Left to right: my buddy George Shepard, Cary, and me with the crew cut and cowlicks.

Star crossed Champagne Tony Lema (right- putting) was defending British Open Champion when this picture was taken on the Westchester putting green. He died in a plane crash the following year.

Gary Player grinds on a putt.

Gary on the practice tee at Westchester.

Player at the moment of impact.

Gene "The Machine" Littler: '61 Open Champion and famous for having the sweetest swing on tour for many years.

Bob Charles: until Phil Mickelson, the New Zealander was hands-down golf's premier lefty. Bob also won the '65 British Open Championship.

Bob Charles on the practice tee.

Lionel Hebert hits his second on 18 at Westchester. My friend Pete Pointer will appreciate this as Lionel taught him to play golf in Erie Pa.

Colorful Doug Sanders, tour playboy and sharp dresser, at the top of his famous "telephone booth" swing. Sanders was a fabulous player, but sad to say he never won a major.

Bespectacled Jim Ferree was another underdog that I liked. Like Doug Sanders, Jim was known for enjoying the nightlife. He won only once on tour. But he later gained distinction as the model for the knickered silhouette that serves as the logo for the Champions Tour.

Jim Ferree stripes an iron.

Jack Nicklaus won the Thunderbird Classic in 1965. After the tournament, George and I visited the New York World's Fair. As I recall there were drought conditions prevailing in New York and you can see evidence of that in some of the photos.

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