Worth the wait

Golf tourney has recovery on course
By Jim Gazzolo

All things considered, the Korn Ferry Tour’s inaugural trip to Lake Charles was worth the wait.

Delayed first by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 and then last year because of hurricane damage, the golf event finally got going this year.

The Lake Charles Championship proved it would be a winner despite the delays.

Players also had to put up with guesting winds the first day as well at the Country Club at Golden Nugget. Still, they didn’t seem to bothered by it.

“I really enjoyed playing the course,” said first-round leader Will Gordon. “It set up nice and the wind actually made it play like the course was supposed to play.”

Fans even got to see a hole-in-one the first day thanks to Eric Cole, who quickly became the answer to the trivia question. For the record he will always been known as the first golfer to fire a hole-in-one in Lake Charles Championship history. 

Cole pulled off the trick on the Par-3 13th for those of you wanting to test your skills against him in the future. 

Sure, when the winds died down the course played fairly easy for professionals, but that only made for a more exciting four days. Consider it the same as pro baseball when the balls were juiced. 

Also who won the tournament and walked off with the winner’s prize of $135,000 doesn’t seem to really matter as much either. Another trivia answer. 

In case you are wondering, it was Trevor Werbylo who won the inaugural event with a birdie on the third playoff hole. He beat Seonghyeon Kim, who missed a 6-foot putt on the final hole after knocking his tee shot into the bunker.

The golf was very competitive as Kim and Werbylo each had to birdie the final two holes of regulation to force a playoff. Kim even had to add an eagle on 16 to get there as well. 

That all is nice but, truth is in this case the winner is really Southwest Louisiana.

Hurricane Laura stripped us of a lot of things, but getting a golf tournament back shows not all have forgotten the community. There is still plenty of hope, so this tournament is maybe the start of better days ahead as we rebuild our homes and communities. 

The boxing championships were a big hit before the storms and are expected to work their way back once all the facilities are up and running. 

McNeese State has found a way to secure Southland Conference championship tournaments for at least the next four years in softball, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball. Those start in 2023. 

More attention for the area. More eyes means more opportunities to get help. More help means quicker recovery. 

It’s a winning formula. 

McNeese even got the Southland to return football media to Lake Charles beginning this summer. 

But to have professional sports return is a huge victory. The players who came to town last week will disperse all over the country and take with them tales of their time in Southwest Louisiana.

By putting on a good show the area quickly jumps up in the minds of others who may want to visit or get their own look at a town bouncing back. 

You can’t beat that for good public relations.

If nothing else the tournament shows that while we won’t forget what we have gone through maybe we are starting to get past it.

Jim Gazzolo is the co-host of Poke Nation on CBS-Lake Charles. He is also a freelance writer and can be reached at jimgazzolo@yahoo.com

Categories: Sports