Washington's Lee Elder did not play in the recent Kemper Open, but he still played golf that weekend. Instead of walking the rugged hills of Congressional, Elder was aboard a golf cart in Colorado, and won his fourth seniors tournament, the Denver Post Champions, worth $30,000.
Three of Elder's victories have been official PGA Seniors tour events. The other was in Japan, and it netted him money and a new car. With his Denver victory, his first of the year, Elder pushed his PGA Seniors earnings this year to $90,000.
"Before I left for Denver, Kemper Chairman Labron Harris called and wanted to know if I was going to play in the Kemper," Elder said from Reno, where he was to play in a PGA Seniors event there. "It was just unfortunate the two tournaments had to have been on the same date. I certainly would have loved to play in the Kemper. But I knew Plum Creek was the type of course I could win on, a good driving course."
Elder hit what he thought was a good drive on the the final hole, but wind whipped it off the fairway. He double-bogeyed the hole but still won by a shot with 76 -- 213. "I had a large enough lead at the time to make a mistake like that and still win," said Elder, 51.
When people talk of seniors domination, the names Don January and Miller Barber arise. But Elder's name belongs there, too. "I have been out here less than a year and already won four golf tournaments," he said. "I have never been out of the top ten since I started on the senior tour."
On June 3, Elder was inducted into the All-America Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame in New York, for his work helping financially strapped youth earn scholarships.
He will hold the Lee Elder Celebrity Pro-am Aug. 23-25 at Hilton Head, the site of one of his seniors victories last year.
"I'm having a great time. I work hard, but not as hard as I used to on the regular tour," he said.
Gary Marlowe, Fred Funk, and Larry Rentz are area players who qualified for the U.S. Open, which begins today at Oakland Hills near Detroit. Marlowe underwent a hernia operation in February but now is healthy and playing on the Middle Atlantic PGA circuit. Other new MAPGA faces are Rentz, the leading earner on the national PGA club pro circuit last winter, and Ian Noel, former Metro Schoolboy champion. Amateur Walter Bain of Fairfax, whose family recently moved here from California, is a former Los Angeles junior champion. Bain recently graduated from Cal State-Long Beach and hopes to try for the PGA Tour this fall.
About $400,000 is expected to be raised by the the 15th Lombardi Weekend June 23-24. The golf and tennis tournament (with a running event added this year) has raised more than $1.5 million for cancer research. On June 23, a 10-kilometer run in Washington will be held, with approximately 2,500 entered. The outing the next day at Indian Spring will include tennis and golf, with an exhibition by Jane Blalock.
Congressional Country Club, which hosted the Kemper, also is the site of the Maryland Amateur, which starts today and runs through Sunday. The "gold" course will be used instead of the Kemper course.