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Tony Lema

imgA Page From the Diary of Paul Lazoran

Me and Champagne Tony

 
The field for the 1964 World Series of Golf was Arnold Palmer, Bobby Nichols, Ken Venturi and Tony Lema. Lema qualified by winning the 1964 British Open at St. Andrews. I had the good fortune of caddying for Arnie for this event and watching Lema up close. He went on to win the tournament.

Tony Lema earned the nickname “Champagne Tony” because he bought the bubbly for everyone in the Press Room after each of his 10 tour victories. This, along with his outgoing personality and good nature, made him a favorite of the press.

Tony Lema returned to Firestone Country Club in 1966 for the PGA Championship. It was nice to see him and talk to him again. Unfortunately he and his wife perished when their chartered airplane crashed leaving Akron that year. He was 32 years old.

I’ll always remember “Champagne Tony”. He was a great golfer and a great man. He died way too soon!