1997 Florida Open - Palm Aire CC

Jay Townsend

Victory Is In Honor Of Mentor

Sun-Sentinel
November 2, 1997

 
Jay Townsend wanted to honor his ailing mentor, and he could not think of a better tribute than to win the same golf tournament his teacher and friend once won.

Townsend did just that when he defeated Rodney Butcher on the third playoff hole Saturday in a dramatic Florida Open finale at Palm-Aire Country Club

Townsend, 35, dedicated the victory to Gardner Dickinson, the seven-time PGA Tour winner who became a popular instructor. Dickinson, 70, uses a wheelchair and is battling the effects of a stroke compounded by heart and kidney problems.

"It means a lot to me because of that," Townsend said. "I wanted to emulate him." Dickinson used to teach Townsend, and they still live in the same Tequesta neighborhood.

"Gardner's not doing very well," Townsend said. "It's all that time he spent with me at no charge that allows me to be the player I am today, and to provide a living for my family. You can't imagine the depth of knowledge and insight he gave to me."

When Townsend was 18, Dickinson would invite him out to play at Frenchman's Creek. Townsend was a sponge, sucking up every bit of instruction Dickinson would offer. Dickinson, after all, was one of the game's best teachers. "We'd spend every day together," Townsend said of that summer.

Townsend said he saw Dickinson on Wednesday, the first day of the Florida Open . Dickinson's health problems began in 1989 when he had triple-bypass surgery. He suffered his first stroke four years later. He has also endured kidney problems.

Judy Dickinson, 47, Gardner's wife, has taken a leave of absence from a successful LPGA career to care for her husband this year. She is also taking care of their 8-year-old twin boys. Townsend said he was inspired by Gardner during Saturday's gut-wrenching final round. "Out on the course, I would picture him," Townsend said.

Townsend, a veteran European Tour player, gained some meaningful momentum in his bid to win a PGA Tour card at Qualifying School this winter. He also hopes he made his mentor proud. 

 Pos.
Name
Rd. 1
2
3
4
Total

T1

Jay Townsend

65

68

70

68

271

T1

Rodney Butcher

70

65

67

69

271

T3

Steve Ford

70

65

71

67

273

T3

Chris Couch

66

69

68

70

273

5

Mike Sposa

68

71

67

70

276

T6

John Van Wart

66

74

70

67

277

T6

Mike Smith

70

69

62

76

277

T8

Bart Bryant

72

69

69

68

278

T8

Bobby Doolittle

67

67

71

73

278

T10

Adam Spring

73

69

69

68

279

T10

Clark Burroughs

68

70

70

71

279

 

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