PALM VALLEY — The “40” in Life Begins at 40 golf tournament denotes the minimum age competitors of the annual event must be in order to participate.
On Wednesday, however, the number very well could have indicated the miles per hour of the wind gusts that were howling through Harlingen Country Club.
Despite the blustery conditions, the annual match play competition teed off with four-time defending champion Ron “The Killer” Kilby taking care of business as usual in his first-round championship flight match.
Kilby defeated Gil Beckham to advance to today’s quarterfinals where he’ll face LBA 40 stalwart Rusty Napier, who defeated Bob Ermey in his opening-round match.
Other first-round championship flight winners on Wednesday included Guy Bent, who defeated Bill Werley Jr.; 2012 champion Ray Iler, who beat Benton Beckwith; and Steve Brewer, who defeated Frank Cohen in a 21-hole marathon match.
The top eight will be cut in half today with the final four set to face off Friday in the semifinals and the final set for Saturday afternoon.
Kilby, who is from McAllen, is seeking his fifth consecutive championship and 11th overall.
While only the top 16 seeds can vie for the coveted tournament crown, the entire field is filled with plenty of top-quality golfers from all across the United States and Mexico who take the competition seriously, including Andrew Howorth of The Woodlands.
“I’ve been playing this tournament for the past six years in a row and I think this is one of the best amateur tournaments in Texas,” he said after a 1-up victory over Al Millon. “I love playing here. The course is great and the conditions are perfect.”
“It was crazy windy out there today, but that affects both guys so you just have to play through it,” he continued.
Competitors will have to deal with similar conditions today as the weather forecast calls for breezy conditions with a north-northwest wind between 17-22 mph and gusts as high as 31 mph.
Howorth faces Dr. Jim Rowe of Harlingen in the second round today. Coincidentally, it was Dr. Rowe who got Howorth first interested in the LBA 40.