| St. Elizabeth golf tournament
part of the Lema legacy
Ryan Lema was just 6 months old when his Uncle Tony, the toast of the golfing world, was killed in a plane crash in 1966.
But the legacy of Tony Lema, the East Bay native whose charisma helped attract viewers to the game on television — thus increasing paydays for the pro golfers on the tour — also lives on in an annual golf tournament that benefits the students at St. Elizabeth High School in Oakland, his alma mater.
Ryan Lema will be among the golfers when this year's edition of the Tony Lema '52 Invitational tees-off Sept. 18 at Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek. Additional family members will join the festivities.
Brandon Garcelon, the high school's athletic director, said some spots are available for golfers. There is also an option to attend only the dinner after the tournament. Proceeds support financial assistance for students.
Ryan Lema played golf at Moreau Catholic High School. During his high school years, he would meet people who had caddied for his uncle, or golfed with him. The stories of what Tony Lema meant to them were many.
Tony Lema's father died when his son was just was 2. The role models he found in Catholic Church and school, Ryan Lema said, "had the biggest impact on his not going the wrong way with his life."
"He had a great affinity for the nuns and priests who gave him second and third chances," Ryan Lema said.
That right way, through the greens of his home course, Lake Chabot, led him to the 1964 Open Championship, played at St. Andrew's in Scotland. At the time of his death, at 32, he earned 12 victories and 11 runner-up finishes.
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