Tony Lema of Oakland and Pat Hurst of San Leandro, who both went on to win major championships, led the Class of 2018 that was inducted into the Northern California Golf Association Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Poppy Hills Golf Course https://poppyhillsgolf.com in Pebble Beach.
Randy Haag of San Francisco and Sally Voss Krueger of Bethesda, Md., rounded out the class, while RJ Harper earned the NCGA’s Distinguished Service Award.
Lema (pictured), who attended St. Elizabeth’s High in Oakland, claimed 22 victories as a professional including the 1964 Open Championship by five strokes over Jack Nicklaus on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
A late bloomer who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1951 at the age of 17 and served in Korea, Lema turned pro in 1955 but didn’t claim his first PGA Tour victory until he captured the Sahara Invitational in September of 1962. Then he showed it was no fluke by winning the Orange County Open Invitational a month later and the Mobile Sertoma Open Invitational a month after that.
Lema claimed the 1963 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach and then won five times in 1964. He also played NorCal events during that time, winning the Northern California PGA Championship three straight times from 1962-64 and the 1962 Northern California Open.
Tragically, Lema and his wife, Betty, were killed in a plane crash on July 24, 1966, in Lansing, Ill., at the age of 32. Lema had just tied for 34th in the PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, and chartered a plane to fly them to an exhibition in Crete, Ill.
Lema, who was represented at the ceremony by his nephews Marc Matoza and Ryan Lema, was nicknamed “Champagne Tony” because he bought champagne and sent it to the media room after his victories.
Hurst, who won the 1986 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at the age of 17 and was a two-time All-American at San Jose State, won 11 titles as a pro including six on the PGA Tour—topped by taking the 1998 Dinah Shore Invitational by one stroke over Helen Dobson at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.
Even though she finished in the top 10 of 10 other majors, she was unable to win another. She lost by four strokes Annika Sorenstam in an 18-hole playoff in the 2006 U.S. Women’s Open at Newport Country Club in Newport, R.I.
Hurst, who is an assistant coach on the San Jose State women’s team, was the LPGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year in 1965, played on the United States team in the Solheim Cup five times, and claimed her first victory on the circuit in the 1997 Oldsmobile Classic.
Lema and Hurst both grew up playing at Lake Chabot Golf Course http://www.lakechabotgolf.com in Oakland.
Haag, who played at San Diego State, has earned a record six NCGA Player of the Year awards and he is still going strong. When he won his first NCGA Senior Championship in 2017, he became the first player in to win the Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year titles.
In his career, Haag has claimed 15 NCGA titles—a record four NCGA Mid-Amateur titles, a record four NCGA Four-Ball crowns, two NCGA Amateur Match Play Championships, two San Joaquin Valley titles and three NCGA Mid-Amateur Four-Ball tournaments.
In addition he has won both the NCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship and the Senior Match Play Championship twice.
Haag has won more than 200 NorCal tournaments, including the San Francisco City and the Alameda Commuters, and has claimed the Olympic Club title eight times and the Stocker Cup on three occasions.
Voss Krueger was a two-time All-American at Stanford who also captured the San Francisco City Women’s Championship, the Maryland State Amateur, the Washington D.C. Am and the California Women’s Amateur Championship while in college.
An anesthesiologist in San Francisco, Voss Krueger has gone on to win the S.F. City title nine more times and was runner-up California Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in 2012 and 2014, and finished second in the NCGA Senior Women’s Amateur this year.
Harper began his career at Pebble Beach Golf Links as a marshal making $5-per-hour who worked his way up to head pro, then Executive Vice President of Golf and Retail, and became known as “Mr. Pebble Beach.”
In addition, he served as Championship Director of the 2000 U.S. Open and General Chairman of the 2010 and 2019 U.S. Opens, in addition to helping Pebble Beach land the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open and 2027 U.S. Open.
Harper also was involved with the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Open, and helped found the AT&T Pebble Beach Junior Golf Association.
Margo Daniels accepted the award for Harper, who died of pancreatic cancer last year at the age of 61.
To read more, visit https://ncga.org/2018/09/28/2018-ncga-hall-of-fame-ceremony/