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BOB WEST ON GOLF: Celebrated LU ex Gibson to speak at Zaharias awards

W.L Pate Jr. continues to deliver formidable, highly successful motivational speakers for the annual Babe Didrikson Zaharias High School Golf Awards banquet.

Former Lamar University standout Kelly Gibson, who has become somewhat of a legendary golf promoter and charitable fund raiser in New Orleans, will be doing the honors this year. The 12th annual banquet is set for Monday, June 7 at 5 Under Golf Center in Beaumont.

Gibson, inducted into the Lamar University Hall of Honor in 2000, follows the likes of LPGA Hall of Famer Carol Mann, 13-time PGA Tour winner Hal Sutton, Houston Astros Sr. VP/General Counsel Giles Kibbe and Port Arthur golfing great Marty Fleckman among featured speakers at the event.

“I am so happy our junior golf honorees are going to be able to hear from Kelly Gibson,” said Pate. “You look over his resume and he has done some amazing things. He fills the bill for the kind of speaker we look for to help promote the legacy of the world’s greatest female athlete.”

Gibson was a four-year letter winner at LU, and was a centerpiece of Cardinal teams that went to the NCAA tournament in 1985 and 1986. He helped the Cardinals place 18th overall in 1986 under a difficult NCAA format that was much different than it is today. Gibson finished 28th individually.

The New Orleans native, a two-time winner on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour, had reasonable success in nearly a decade on the PGA Tour. His high-water marks were a tie for third in Las Vegas in 1996 and placing 69th on the money list that same year.

After earning his PGA Tour card in 1991 by surviving and thriving at the arduous PGA Tour school, he claimed three top 10 finishes as a tour rookie. He also had two top-10s in 1994, one in 1995, two in 1996 and one in 1997.

He won the Nike Oregon Classic in 1991 and finished in the top 10 on that tour six times in the calendar year. He also grabbed two victories on the Canadian Tour.

Gibson’s real claim to fame, however, is his acclaimed charity work and the Kelly Gibson Junior Golf Tour that was launched in New Orleans in 2009. His initial charitable effort was the founding of the KG Foundation in 2005 to feed first responders during Hurricane Katrina.

The foundation has expanded to include military initiatives and to fund children’s athletic programming in Greater New Orleans and the Gulf Coast regions. Gibson’s charitable efforts became so noteworthy he was awarded the Golf Writer’s Association of America Charlie Bartlett Award for “Unselfish Contributions to the Betterment of Society.”

Others who have received that award include Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart.

Kibbe, who made a substantial contribution to the Zaharias Foundation on behalf of the Astros, is elated his close friend is coming to Beaumont to speak.

“It will be wonderful for these young golfers to hear Kelly,” Kibbe said. “He is a very entertaining speaker with a great story. Kelly great up on a struggling muny course across the river from New Orleans called Bayou Barriere and become one of the best ball strikers in the world by working day and night on his swing.

“His foundation has done great things for the city of New Orleans. He’s done so much for junior golf in Louisiana and he’s worked on some amazing golf course projects in Louisiana, Florida, New Mexico and Ireland. Kelly is just a very inspiring person.”

CHIP SHOTS: Braden Bailey had another near miss in U.S. Open local qualifying over the Escondido Golf and Lakes Club Monday at Horseshoe Bay. With eight players in the field of 133 advancing to sectional qualifying, Bailey finished in five-way tie for sixth with a three-under-par 68. He wound up fourth in the playoff and is the first alternate.

Andrew Landry is on the outside looking in on the Fed Ex Cup points list for the first time in 2021, after missing the cut at last week’s Valspar Open. Landry carded rounds of 72-73 and dropped to 127 on the Fed Ex list.

The Port Neches-Groves ex is skipping this week’s Wells Fargo Championship but is expected to return for next week’s Byron Nelson in Dallas.

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias the team of Jim Cady, Roddy Richards, Jeff Rinehart and Dillard Darbonne won the front with minus 6. Minus 4 won the back for the foursome of Ed Holley, John House, Don MacNeil and Dwayne Benoit . . .

The weekly Zaharias DogFight was played in an all-points count format. Taking first place with 32 points was the team of Luke Anderson, Mike Brown, Lyndon Rojo and a ghost player. Tying for second with 25 points was the team of Rick Pritchett, House, Keith Marshall and a ghost and the team of Keith Mullins, Danny Robbins, Art Turner and James Johnson.

Closest to the pin winners were Earl Richard (No. 2), MacNeil (No. 7), Raymond Darbonne (No. 12) and Dwayne Morvant (No. 15).

The Tuesday, April 27 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Calvin Landry, Cap Hollier, Turner and Roger Baumer win the front with minus 3. On the back, the team of Ron Lasalle, Ted Freeman, Jeff Rinehart and Frank LeBlanc finished first with minus 3.

Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net

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