Golf loses a friend in Gary Cruz


s a sportscaster and anchor, Gary Cruz worked in three major

metropolitan markets, starting out in Denver in the 1970s and ’80s, moving to Los Angeles from 1990 to ’98 before spending his last 10 years in Phoenix, where he retired in 2009. And while Cruz enjoyed all sports, golf was his true love. “He was a superstar in

Denver,” said his son, Kevin Cruz. “People would walk up to him on the street and just start talking to him. “What was cool was, what

people saw on TV is what you got on the street. He was real, and people loved him for it. And while he played and covered all sports, golf and everything that comes with that was his favorite by far.” “Cruzzer,” as he was

known affectionately by family and friends, passed

Gary Cruz, shown here at the TPC Scottsdale’s legendary 16th hole, loved the game of golf.

away in early March following a courageous battle with cancer. He was 68. “Before Gary got here (in

1999), local television really didn’t cover golf with maybe the exception of the Phoenix Open,” said Corey LaRusso, one of Cruzzer’s partners in “Backspin The Golf Show”, a local radio show on Fox Sports 910 where Cruz and company commented on golf. “But Gary treated golf

like it was mainstream (on Channel 3 and CBS 5), he loved it so much, and that forced all of the other

local TV stations to add more golf coverage.” Cruz grew up in

Pleasanton, Calif., where he was a star high school athlete in football, basketball, baseball and tennis. When he finally found golf at San Francisco State, he never let it go. Among his many other accomplishments, he had small roles in the films “Independence Day” and “Godzilla,” and was the weekly host of “Laker Time” while in LA. He also co-founded a local marketing company called CruzWood with

Ryan Woodcock, the media coordinator for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Tom Green, who worked

with Cruz at 9News in Denver, said Cruz’s easygoing, positive personality and infectious smile made him popular with everyone. And he blamed Cruz, kiddingly, for getting him into golf. “I was so lucky early in

my career to get to work and learn from Cruzzer,” Green recalled. “Gary showed me the ropes in Denver; taught me and scolded me. “I think Gary is to blame

for my addiction to golf. I didn’t really play before I moved to Colorado, but he helped teach me the game, and it was always nice to go somewhere with him. He was extremely popular and he seemed to know everyone.” Cruz, who is survived

by his wife, Trish, and Kevin, was honored during a St. Patrick’s Day “19th Hole Celebration” on March 17 at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale. As a final gesture to the game, the Cruz family asked that donations in Gary’s name be made to The First Tee of Phoenix. n

Stroke Play returns to GCU

Grand Canyon University sophomore Jake Chanen will be the defending champ when the Arizona State Stroke Play Championship gets under way at Grand Canyon University Golf Course April 26-29. Chanen prevailed in last year’s championship,

also at GCU, with a 72-hole total of 12-under 272. That included a very impressive 6-under in the final round for GCU’s No. 1 player.

36 | AZ GOLF Insider | SPRING-SUMMER 2018 Finishing three shots off the pace in

second place was Grant Cesarek. That included a tournament-best 64 in the last round for the AGA veteran from Tucson. The golf course at GCU is John Fought’s

renovated version of the old Maryvale Golf Course. It still is a very traditional, parkland style of golf course, and along those lines,

this will be a mandatory walking event with no cart privileges granted, which includes cart privileges to caddies or spectators. The tournament format calls for 72 holes of individual stroke play with a 36-hole cut to 60 players and ties. The tournament is limited to 144 players. Included in the prizes for those who make the cut will be a $100 credit to the Titleist Merchandise tent. For further information call the AGA at 602-944-3035 or visit the tournament site at n

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