Haskins learns he’s a rookie but sees progress

 

So what’s it been like for Steve Haskins playing on the Champions Tour? A wonderful but learning experience.  “After qualifying for the U.S. Open and then for the Champions Tour I had high expectations,” he says. “But I quickly learned that the depth of talent out there is tremendous and that I’m just a rookie.”

Haskins finished 38th in his first Champions Tour event, 73rd in his second and 59th in his third.

 

BUT HE’S NOT about to throw in the towel. In fact, he’s already bought his plane ticket to the next Champions Tour event in the Dominican Republic, the $1,600,000 Cap Cana Championship at Punta Espada Golf Club March 26 through 28.  “I’ve lowered my expectations but I do feel like I’m making progress,” Haskins said. “And it’s been a wonderful experience playing and being around some of the greatest golfers of all time. I was in the room with Tom Watson after he shot a 62. I played with Gary Player who, by the way, can still pop it out there despite his age (74). I’ve run into Lee Trevino and traded some great stories of his days in El Paso.”

 

HERE ARE the results of Haskins’ first three Champions Tour tournaments this year:

Ace Group Classic, Feb. 14 – Shot 72, 74, 72 for a two-over par 218 total, tied for 38th and earned $8,000.

Allianz Championship, Feb. 21 – Shot 75, 78, 74 for an 11 over par total of 227, tied for 73rd and earned $1156.  Toshiba Classic, March 7 – Shot 71, 73, 72 for a three-over par 216 total, tied for 59th and earned $2,975.  His total earnings of $12,131 have covered expenses and kept hopes alive.  I know we all El Pasoans wish him nothing but the best.

 

NOMINATIONS for induction into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame closed this past Wednesday. Twelve more persons were nominated at the final meeting. They are, by category and alphabetical order:

 

ATHLETES

 

Harry Groessel, who has competed in professional drag racing 48 consecutive years and has won 18 track championships.

Butch Henry, a former Eastwood High baseball star who went on to pitch in the Major Leagues and is now manager of the El Paso Diablos.

Pete Solis, one of El Paso’s finest all-around athletes who has shined in football, baseball, boxing and golf among other sports.

Don Wiley, a former Ysleta High star athlete who lost his left arm as a pilot during the Vietnam war but took up golf and tennis afterwards and has excelled in both.

 

COACHES/ADMINISTRATORS

 

Benjamin Avalos, one of El Paso’s greatest high school wrestling coaches who turned out many champions at Eastwood High.

Marc Bombard, a former Eastwood High and UTEP pitching star who has become one of the minor leagues’ most successful managers.

Jimmy Melendez, Riverside High’s legendary baseball coach who in one stretch won 14 of 16 district titles and took his team to one State final four.

Bernie Olivas, a former scholar/athlete at Cathedral High who rose to the position of executive director of the Sun Bowl, which has flourished under his leadership.

Tom Work, another legendary Riverside High coach who did for football what Melendez did for baseball: raise it to previously unseen heights.

 

MEDIA/CONTRIBUTOR

 

Richard A. Castro, a McDonald’s owner who has contributed to many, many different sports in and around El Paso.

 

POSTHUMOUS

 

Mona Loper, an El Paso bowling official for many years who also served as a state bowling director and sergeant at arms.

Norman W. Pittenger, a man who loved to run and has competed in marathons and other running events in five continents.

 

Voting by the board of directors will be held March 24. Winners will be introduced at a press conference on March 31. The induction dinner, sponsored by Price’s Creameries, will be held April 28 at UTEP.

 

 

Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at rayf358@yahoo.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com