JUNE 20 - 22, 2008



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Newton basks in glow of victory and adoring players

Radium Resort, British Columbia -- As he finished his speech during the closing ceremonies Sunday night at the Gems Newton Cup, Paul Newton couldn't keep his voice from cracking, not surprising from a "sentimental old fool," which he readily admits he is. He was reveling in a Team Newton victory and another Hallmark moment, and, well, maybe it's the last time he'll ever bask in such a glow.


Playing for Paul Newton has become a treasured perk for Ian Buckingham and his Newton. teammates. I've been fortunate to captain several Gems Newton Cup teams," he said haltingly. "They've all been great weeks, but none better than this."

At least until the next one.


Team Newton wrapped up its first Gems Newton Cup in seven tries Sunday at Radium Resort Golf Club, posting a convincing 5 - 1 decision over Trevor Zeck’s talented but trumped Club Z Team. Team Newton got to wrap their arms around the silver trophy, but it almost seems like that's not the goal but rather the end product of a week rapping with Captain Paul.

Without question, Newton, 61, has been an asset to Team Newton’s fortunes in the five times he has led his team in this annual event. But he has come to represent more than a leader. Quite frankly, he's a perk. Playing for Newton has become such a treasured privilege that he has become part of the rewards package that goes with qualifying for the team.

Actually, he's more like the headliner.

"He certainly is for me," said Ian Buckingham, who has played solely for Newton in his four GNC appearances. "He was my idol growing up. I still have his autograph from when I was a kid that reads, 'To Ian,' and all that. I couldn't draw it up any better than playing for Paul Newton."

Who could? Think about it. Representing Team Newton is a special honor, to be sure. But the prospect of playing for Paul ... now there's a prize.

"To say you played for Paul Newton ... they can't take that away from you," Gerry Imbery said. "He says something to you, and you listen. It's special. And you find yourself thinking you'll do anything to win for him because of what he means."

Ray Kureluk was put on the spot, being asked if the Gems Newton Cup would lose something if Paul were not the captain. "We've had some great years together since '06," said Kureluk, who went 3-2 this year. "I've always loved playing for Paul.”

"It's always great to see him, great to have him around," Kureluk added. "To have him as your captain, it doesn't get any better than that."

Newton was almost certain that 2005 should be his last go-around, as Jamie Newton took the reigns in 2006. This year, when asked about potential future calls, he's less emphatic about closing the door.

"If they think that they need me, and I think I can help them, then, sure, I'm going to be there," Newton said. "Do I still feel like it's somebody else's turn? Sure I do. But would I say no if they came to me again? Of course not. Because that would mean that they want me around, and that turning them down would be sort of a slap in the face."

"He's loved every minute of it," said Suzanne Newton, Paul’s wife of 37 years. "He likes keeping up with the guys, socializing with them, getting to know the younger players. He's an active part of the golf world, and that is important to him. He's really thrived on it."

Yes, he has, and he won't deny it. Newton has two children and two grandchildren and he revels in his family life. But the golf community is his extended family, and he is a grandfather to a game that is better with him in it.

And he's better for it, too, which is why he gets so sentimental about it.

"I just feel that you have some special moments in your life, and this happens to be one of them," he said Sunday night with his team seated around him. "I know as you get older, your years get shorter (and) you may not have those opportunities again. It may be the last time that I do it. And if that's the case, that's fine.

The reaction that I get from these guys and the support that I've gotten from them -- not only the support that I've tried to give them, but the support they have given me -- is just something that you don't have very many times in a lifetime."