Iron Masters planning classy patriotic gesture

Iron Masters Country Club is busy this morning as play begins in the club’s 38th annual two-ball invitational.

Artie Fink Jr. and Todd Homan return to defend their title against a talented field that includes Chris Perry and Mike Macionsky – winners of last week’s title at Park Hills.

This year, an additional, patriotic touch will be added to the club’s biggest tournament of the season.

According to head pro Tom Koehle, Iron Masters will be honoring our armed services by arranging for local National Guard members to aid in attending the flagstick at the 18th hole during tournament play. An appropriate United States flag will be honorably flown on this 18th flagstick.

Donations will be collected for our military’s Wounded Warrior Project during the entire weekend.

The patriotic ceremony was arranged by club member Steve Frank and pro shop assistant Rob Koehle.

Big hitter

Most local golfers know that Summit Country Club member Quintin Dziabo is one of the best young golfers in the area and someone who can hit the golf ball a country mile.

Last summer, Dziabo accomplished the unbelievable feat of scoring a hole-in-one at Summit’s par-4 seventh hole – a mere 357 yards.

A few weeks ago, the former Summit club champion proved again that he’s not just a long-hitting phenom when he partnered with good friend Jay Pheasant to capture Huntingdon Country Club’s two-man invitational.

The following week, Dziabo was back at his home course, adding yet another chapter to his long-driving legend.

While playing in Summit’s annual Calandra Cup, Dziabo stepped up to the tee at the long, uphill par-4 sixth hole, which measures 370 yards. Dziabo proceeded to rip a tee ball that sailed all the way to the hole’s front fringe, setting up an easy two-putt birdie – amazing.

Many happy returns

There was an interesting sidebar to Rory McIlroy’s impressive victory in last week’s British Open.

Ten years ago, Gerry McIlroy (Rory’s father) placed a sizable wager on his son – when Rory was just a promising junior golfer.

At the time, the elder McIlroy and three friends collected 400 pounds (approximately $680) to place a bet that the young McIlroy would win the Claret Jug by the time he turned 25 – a bet that offered 500-1 odds.

With McIlroy turning 25 years old this year, 2014 was the last year to make good on the wager – and Rory came through. McIlroy’s father, and his three pals, will collect about $340,000 for their decade-old wager.

Ageless wonder

It took me a long time to become a Tom Watson fan – not because he’s a bad guy. He always seems to say and do the right things.

My problem with Watson was that he broke my heart as a kid when he holed a miracle shot on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach to edge out an aging Jack Nicklaus, my boyhood hero, at the 1982 U.S. Open.

It wasn’t the only time he took down Nicklaus in a head-to-head major championship battle, which only added to my frustration with him. Over the years, though, Watson’s fine play and great attitude have helped soften my attitude toward him.

Amazingly, Watson nearly won the 2008 British Open, at the age of 58, before eventually losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

Currently 64, Watson turned in yet another stellar performance at last week’s Open Championship. The eight-time major champion not only made the cut, but he also shot a 4-under par 68 in the final round to finish ahead of current PGA stars Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Martin Kaymer, and Tiger Woods.