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THE AGELESS TESSIE BLAIR STILL GOT GAME

68-year-old still one of the best on island

By Patrick Lujan

For the past four decades, every golf tournament on Guam has had a familiar name near or on top of the ladies leaderboard.

Tessie Blair lines up on the green, putting for par in the first round at the Guam Amateur Golf Tournament held at CCP. (photo by Cam Santos)

It was no different this past weekend at the 2023 Guam Amateur Golf Championship where Tessie Blair finished in a tie for second place on the women’s side.

The amazing part is she’s 68 years old and still in the thick of competition against players that could be her grand children. (See TYANNA JACOT)

“Can you imagine competing with a kid that’s 14 years old? Every time I see her swing, I say ‘ouch!’,” Blair said (laughing) after her final round at CCP. “It’s just so wonderful to watch the young ones.”

Paired with Blair for the final round was former 8-time junior golf champion Nalathai Vongjalorn, who has nothing but praise for her senior partner.

“Tessie Blair is amazing,” Vongjalorn said. “She’s been consistent throughout all these years. She holds her own, she plays smart and always stays consistent, no matter what age she is. She’s been the same since I’ve known her. I still enjoy playing with her, up to now.”

Playing against young, uber-talented competition leaves Blair to use her experience, strengths and mental game to keep pace.

“I can not compete with their distance. At my age, it’s the approach, short game and putts.”

– Tessie Blair on competing with much younger golfers

Her short game was on display during the recent amateur tournament. Despite being outdriven on just about every tee box, that short game is what kept her right under Jacot on the board.

“The short game, that’s where the score counts,” Blair said. “I encourage everybody to practice your short game and the putts.”

Tessie Blair, 1999 SPG gold medalist, still in great shape as she drives one onto the fairway in the final round of the tournament. (photo by Cam Santos)

“Since Day 1, her chipping and her approach,” Vongjalorn added about Blair’s strong points. “If she’s 30 or 40 yards in, she’s always within 10-15 feet and tracking the pin. That would be one thing I would love to take away (from her game).”

Playing on Guam since 1982, Blair said the development of the Guam junior golf scene in the last decade or so has really brought up the skill level for female golf on island. Vongjalorn got things going on the junior circuit in recent years with players like Jacot, Mina Manibusan and Ava Limtiaco coming along nicely.

Blair has been there as a coach for most of them and beams with pride on their improvements and accomplishments.

So what’s the secret after all these years?

It’s pretty simple for the 1999 South Pacific Games gold medalist.

“At this kind of age, it’s just ‘do what you love’. And of course, friends. Those are the two secrets of my life.”

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COMING SOON …

  • Roque Martinez Deep fight this weekend.

 

 

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