The Duncan Banner

Sports

June 22, 2014

Celebs and locals hit the course for charity

DUNCAN — Even without some of the headline names, the fifth annual Celebrity Pancreatic Cancer Golf Tournament had a joyous and festive atmosphere as it raised awareness for cancer illnesses Friday.

Without Heisman trophy recipients Billy Sims and Steve Owens, who had to drop out last minute, the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club had a little bit less star power. However that didn’t ruin the event, which had a little bit of everything to help raise money for charity.

Duncan football head coach Craig Benson said he thought the whole tournament was a great way to support a good cause. He enjoyed the unique structure of the event, as it was more of a laid back atmosphere than a competitive one.

“It wasn’t about being a golf tournament to win. That wasn’t the thing that I took from anybody being out there,” Benson said. “It was about good fellowship and meeting new people.”

Teeing off on the 527-yard par-5 1st, the tournament wouldn’t have looked different at all, but once a golfer finished that hole they were in for a surprise on the second tee box.

Part of the tradition with the tournament, which moved to the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club two years prior, was having players tee off on a toilet seat at No. 2. Benson said he liked the gimmick.

“I thought it was pretty creative on their part,” Benson said. “It sure did make for a unique tee shot that’s for sure.”

The trend continued on the 145-yard par-3 4th, where Dixon golf, an eco-friendly golf company based out of Tempe, Ariz, was offering a birdie to anyone for $10. The purchase also came with a free golf club and other prizes, some of which were earned if the golfer hit the green or made a hole in one.

On the 377-yard par-4 7th golfers had to hit using their non-dominant hand. It led to some wayward tee shots, but even more laughs as people lined up in awkward stances trying to hit the ball straight.

Amidst the festive atmosphere though was an important cause. Jim Edwards, who organized the event for the fifth straight year, sat behind the 10th green discussing his battle with pancreatic cancer and how the information he received helped save his life.

“Until I got it, I didn’t know anything about it,” Edwards said at the event. “I didn’t know that there was a four percent survival rate after a year with pancreatic cancer... It makes me feel good that there’s probably 160 people out here today and they all know what pancreatic cancer is.”

Edwards added that it was humbling for him to make that significant of an impact. He hopes that some of those people will do yearly physicals to check for the disease like he did, saving his life.

“They’ve caught my pancreatic cancer twice through yearly physicals, and I’ve had my third chance now at life,” Edwards said.

Even though the fee to play helped collect money, there were other ways money was raised to help support those with pancreatic cancer.

Sharon Crook opened up a lemonade stand on the course with her grandson, Davis, 7, and his friend Hadley Spruill, 10. They were able to raise more than $300 during the tournament.

Golfers of all age groups joined in the fun. One of the celebrities was John Carroll, who played at the university of Oklahoma from 1971-74. Two more recent football players from the school were Paul Thompson and Rufus Alexander, who played together from 2003-06.

Thompson was the starting quarterback for the 2006 team, on which Alexander was an All-American linebacker.

“I’ve been here three or four years now. It’s great people and I have a lot of fun with a lot of guys,” Alexander said. “It’s always good to connect with the fans because all of them remember me, the older people. A lot of the young kids don’t but some of them do.”

After back-to-back days of rain, the course looked pristine with just a few pockets of water on the cart path. Edwards said the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club always does a great job preparing the event.

General manager Mike Hansen, who ended up playing in the tournament, said it was his pleasure.

“We always try to get as many as we can to come down here and play,” Hansen said. “Jim and everybody involved, they’ve all done a great job to promote it and get people down here. We’ve had a lot of people come out just to ride around and meet some of the celebrities and that’s as neat as anything.

“The more people that come, the more money that is raised for the foundation and charity and it’s good to see.”

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