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Junior Masters honors News' DiCesare

Rory Sabbatini was in trouble.

The 17-year-old from South Africa had hit a tree with his tee shot on the 16th hole in the championship match at the 1993 International Junior Masters, leaving him 265 yards from the pin.

Then, he did something amazing: He hammered a 3-wood up onto the green, going on to birdie the hole and eventually win the tournament.

Witnessing that shot stuck firmly in the memory of Buffalo News sports reporter Bob DiCesare.

"That's pretty good nowadays for a kid that age," DiCesare said. "But when you consider what the equipment was they were playing with at that point -- it was just an incredible shot."

It was just one of the magical moments that DiCesare has witnessed at the tournament, which has become one of his favorites over the more than two decades that he has covered it.

On Monday, DiCesare will be honored at the tournament's Ham Am dinner as the second recipient of the International Junior Masters Champion of the Game award, recognizing his years of coverage and support of the tournament.

The award was created to acknowledge those who have supported the tournament over many years through different avenues of service, according to tournament director Paul O'Brien.

"Bob was selected for his coverage of our event in The News each year," O'Brien said. "He comes out, having studied the field, and spends time telling stories of some of the kids, especially the local kids."

For DiCesare, the award is "like kinda getting an award for liking candy."

"It's something I love to do," he said. "Golf is my favorite sport to cover. I love the individuality of it, and I love that it exposes the flaws of what we are."

The award was first given last year to Pater Sabourin, the former director of the Quebec Junior Golf Association. Sabourin brought a team to compete in the Junior Masters for 13 years, O'Brien said, and the Quebec team still comes.

It's not meant to be an annual award, O'Brien said, though someone will likely be honored again next year. Then the award may not be given for a long time, he said.

O'Brien said that he nominated DiCesare in a meeting of the tournament's main committee in January. "His coverage over the years has been terrific," he said.

DiCesare enjoys following the players after they play the Junior Masters, too, though they don't always succeed.

"Guys that you thought would be good players, struggled to be great players," he said. "It just shows how hard it is to make it in that sport."

DiCesare said that "covering golf is the best of assignments, whether it's the Masters or the International Junior Masters or the Buffalo District Individual."

"Anytime the golf course is your office for the week, it's a pretty cool thing," he said. "I think a lot of people would like to trade places with you."

e-mail: skilb@buffnews.com

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